Iraqis jobless in Roanoke, VA
Posted by Ann Corcoran on November 26, 2008
Yet another unhappy Iraqi refugee story, this one from Roanoke, VA. By the way, we have written about Roanoke before because it was the location of an American blacks conflict with Somali refugees.
Anyway, the primary subject of this article in the Roanoke Times, Haidar Khairallah, is not unhappy. He is an injured interpreter who was resettled here after a long wait and appears to be on his way to fitting in to America. Obviously, from the story he is a secular Muslim who spent some years as a child in England and speaks English well, and that helps.
Now he uses his English by helping Roanoke’s Refugee and Immigrant Services (a Catholic resettlement agency) to calm down some unhappy Iraqis—professionals who want jobs other than cleaning. Same old story just another state.
In the crowded conference room of Roanoke’s Refugee and Immigration Services, Haidar has been asked to broker a sit-down with his fellow refugees. Resettlement coordinator Jasminka Traylor has heard complaints about some of them turning down manual-labor jobs. She’s asked for help from Haidar, now working as a part-time translator for the office while he looks for full-time work.
Unlike most refugees who come to America from harsh refugee-camp conditions, these immigrants were professionals in Iraq — engineers, teachers and the like. They lived in metropolitan cities in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria while awaiting security clearance and refugee status.
The Iraqis will even take a job at non-Union-still-profiting Walmart if they can get out of cleaning!
Unlike Haidar, most of the new Iraqis in Roanoke aren’t yet fluent in English and don’t qualify for white-collar work here — which Traylor explains repeatedly in the meeting.
“We don’t want cleaning job,” one man gripes. “You can’t find job in Wal-Mart instead? How about another mart?”
Growing frustrated, Traylor asks: “Who cleans in Iraq?”
“People from Sudan.”
“No,” Haidar interjects. “Iraqi people clean in Iraq.”
Traylor asks the question again. The men and women whisper among themselves but say nothing.
She throws up her hands. “You have to find something to do here to pay your bills until you’re ready to find something you want to do!”
And, Refugees International is telling do-gooders to write to Obama and push for over 100,000 more Iraqis in this fiscal year? It’s nuts!
Start at this post to find more unhappy Iraqi refugee stories, or just go to our Iraqi Refugee category.
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