Refugee Resettlement Watch

No jobs, mental illness plague Iraqi refugees in Dearborn, MI

Posted by Ann Corcoran on December 19, 2012

Since we are on the subject of immigrants with untreated mental illness (see yesterday’s horrifying story from the Boston Globe), this story from Newsweek about Iraqi refugees struggling in Michigan fits right in.

Although Iraq is now governed by a democratically elected government that we gave them at a very high cost to America in blood and treasure, we are still pouring Iraqi refugees into the US for myriad reasons, but like the first sad tale this article tells, some are hankering for the good old days when Saddam Hussein ran the place.

Here is Mohasen wishing she could return to the days of being a ballet instructor in Iraq.  She says she can’t find a ballet job here in the US and must work menial jobs to make ends meet.  But, the reality is that there isn’t ballet in Iraq now either since the Islamists are running the show (no little girls in skimpy costumes).  Mohasen lamenting the loss of her good life in Iraq:

Mohasen flips through an album full of photographs and looks at pictures of young children in delicate yellow ballerina costumes, leaping around a stage. She recites all 20 of their names—students from years ago—calling them her “butterflies,” which was also the name of their ballet troupe. The pictures are reminders of Mohasen’s former life in Baghdad—a life that she knows she will never have again, so long as she is a refugee in the United States.

Newsweek then tells us that 59,000 Iraqis have arrived in the US since 2007. Actually that is wrong, if you go to WRAPS they have a special category just for Iraqis and Iraqi SIVsThe numbers are 77,534 refugees plus an additional 8,119 SIVs.

Michigan got 12,000 plus Iraqis since 2007, second only to California with over 19,000 between Iraqi refugees and SIVs in the same time period.  How many of those do you think are on some type of welfare?  I bet it’s nearly 100%.

No jobs, mental problems and prejudice.  Prejudice from fellow Arabs (Newsweek doesn’t say it, but it’s Muslim v. Chaldean Christian prejudice most likely)!    How can that be, only white Americans are supposed to be prejudiced?  Right?

When the last envoy of U.S. troops crossed the border into Kuwait, it marked the end of America’s war in Iraq. Billions of dollars had been spent and thousands of lives lost. But while the U.S. celebrated and welcomed its troops home, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were left with a far different reality—redefining their lives as refugees in unfamiliar countries. Now they’re facing a battle of a different sort: assimilating into mainstream America. The challenges range from job woes and the prejudice of earlier immigrants to serious psychological wounds sustained in war.

“Unwelcoming ” Dearborn makes finding a job harder.  Really?  I thought it was the US job market and Michigan’s job market, mental health problems, and lack of English, etc.   Readers we haven’t had so many stories lately, but for awhile we had almost weekly reports of Iraqi refugees somewhere in the US being unhappy with their new lives in America, some even returned to the Middle East in disgust.  LOL! Type ‘Iraqi refugees unhappy‘ into our search function and see what I mean.   Also, click on our Iraqi Refugee category for literally hundreds of posts (551 to be exact!) on problems with Iraqi refugees.  Somebody should write a book!

Many of the refugees headed to Dearborn, Michigan, home to the largest concentration of Arabs, as well as Iraqi expats, in the U.S. According to Hassam Abdulkhaleq, program manager of the psychosocial rehabilitation center at the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS)—one of the largest Arab activist organizations in the country—the first wave of Iraqis arrived in Michigan during the first Gulf War, with a second influx coming at the start of the occupation of Iraq in 2003. Many of the second-wave refugees are Chaldean Christians, who were persecuted along with other religious minorities after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

With the beginning of the war in 2003, resources for the Detroit-area refugee population focused on Iraqis who were particularly vulnerable because of their religious beliefs. Refugees who had settled in the area in years past were not always so welcoming. “There is a blending-in problem,” says Manuel Tancer, a professor of psychiatry at Wayne State University. “And I think it’s a problem with any immigrant.” Tancer counsels victims of torture in the Detroit metropolitan area. “This is an issue when you have people coming to a particular area because they have relatives there. [They are] not always accepted happily and gladly by the people that have been there for a while.”

The unwelcoming environment only made it more difficult for Iraqis to integrate into their new homes. They were seeking acceptance not only from Americans but from the established refugee community as well. The lack of support they received made it that much more difficult for them to find quality work—even if they’d had prosperous careers back in Iraq.

Untreated mental illness is prevalent:

 Like many other Iraqi refugees in the U.S., Mohasen and Fatima’s struggles are exacerbated by past traumas. For most, the war they fled is an ever-present reality. Muntaha Fleful left Iraq after being attacked by a Baghdad militia in 2004. She was resettled in the U.S. in 2008, after being treated for her injuries in Jordan. Now, she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and receives treatment from ACCESS’s psychosocial rehab center.

According to Abdulkhaleq, the center’s program manager, PTSD tends to cause nightmares, poor concentration, and extreme anger. He thinks that thousands of refugees are suffering from mental illnesses associated with war, but that only a small percentage receive treatment due to limited resources in the area.

Oh, geez, will Syrians be coming next?   Dearborn residents worry that the diversity-is-beautiful gang in the State Department will soon throw Syrians into the Michigan melting pot!  (that is not how Newsweek says it!):

The Iraqi population in Dearborn has been the focal point for refugee aid over the past 10 years. But now that the Iraq War has ended, that focus seems to be dropping off in favor of newer conflicts, such as the one in Syria. Although the civil war there continues to spiral, the U.S. has yet to aid Syrian refugees. But officials in Dearborn think it is only a matter of time before they see an influx of Syrians in the area, and worry that the spike may overwhelm already strained resources.

Read it all.

Note:  We have already taken the first step in that direction and Obama has granted Temporary Protected Status to Syrians, here.  That means any Syrians who are in the US already for whatever reason (even illegally) are temporary refugees and are given permission to stay and work indefinitely.  (It is supposed to be temporary, but never is!)

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2 Responses to “No jobs, mental illness plague Iraqi refugees in Dearborn, MI”

  1. [...] No jobs, mental illness plague Iraqi refugees in Dearborn, MI [...]

  2. [...] I’m laughing because I see Matthew Lee is the reporter.  I wrote about Lee for years at my other blog because he was the chief media mouthpiece for the NGOs pushing for higher numbers of Iraqi refugees [...]

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