The thing that amazes me most about articles like this one, about how there aren’t enough ‘resources’ for the large numbers of refugees arriving in ‘welcoming’ cities and states, is that NO ONE ever says, maybe we should slow the flow into the US until such time that we can afford them!
There is so much in this report from the Des Moines Register by
On the Monday after standard time went into effect, Lee Mo’s children missed school. The Burmese refugee family knew the American ritual of moving clocks forward and back, but they didn’t know on which dates that happened, so the school bus left without them.
Even if she had known the date, Mo couldn’t read a calendar. For much of her five years here, she has had to estimate time based on the position of the sun. She doesn’t know her age. She can’t make a phone call. Like about half of the people in Iowa who speak her native Karenni, she can’t read in any language. Neither she nor her husband went to school. [We have admitted tens of thousands of Burmese like this family!---ed]
An estimated 6,000 Burmese are in Iowa and some say life was easier in the camp!
Since 2006, refugees from Burma have been turning up in Iowa, becoming its largest incoming refugee group.
There are an estimated 6,000 refugees from Burma who are here, divided about evenly between three main language groups (though there are dozens of less-spoken languages), according to Henny Ohr, executive director of EMBARC, a new Des Moines nonprofit to help them. The Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services counts 1,667 refugees from Burma in Iowa, but that doesn’t include secondary migration from other cities. Yet Ohr says no Karenni speaker in Iowa is fluent in English.
For all of the deprivations in the refugee camps — houses of bamboo and leaves, lit only by candlelight; dug pits for toilets; no electricity or running water; no health care or police to fight crime — Mo says that life was easier. At least she knew how to navigate it.
In the “old days” resettlement contractors used private money and volunteer help to go beyond what their government dole paid for, today they don’t!
Refugee resettlement core services from the U.S. State Department were always limited to 90 days, and there is a one-time per capita grant of $1,800, of which $700 can go to agency staff for management, says John Wilken, chief of the Bureau of Refugee Services in the Iowa Department of Human Services. But in the past, income-eligible single people or couples without young children could also get cash assistance and medical care for five years. That was cut back to eight months.
“In the old days, agencies doing resettlement often went beyond 90 days, I presume because they had private dollars or volunteers,” said Wilken. “As the landscape has changed and resettlement has become more costly, resettlement agencies have had to limit their services to exactly what they’re getting paid for.”
Take note Wyoming, state taxpayers help foot the bill.
Low-income refugees with children get welfare benefits under Iowa’s Family Investment Program, with a lifetime cap of five years. The Bureau of Refugee Services uses federal funds for refugees here less than two years to pay for employment-related services primarily. The bulk of that $550,000 last year paid for bureau staff, job transportation and telephone interpretation services. Language instruction was limited to “self-learning” on computers using Rosetta Stone programs. The bureau has no Karenni-speaking employees.
There are other federal grants, including some to prepare elderly refugees for citizenship, or targeted to Des Moines Public School children, and partnerships with Lutheran Services of Iowa, Catholic Charities and the Des Moines chapter of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. But as Wilken says, “All of us would say there’s a pretty substantial gap in comprehensive case management.”
Secondary migrants arriving for meatpacking jobs! (Immigrant cheap labor!) Meatpackers make money, while taxpayers subsidize the lives of these legal laborers.
And when families are resettled in Iowa from other states — for meatpacking jobs or because relatives are here — the 90 days of assistance won’t follow them, and the Bureau of Refugee Services won’t help. Wilken said it didn’t compete for such funds; the Committee for Refugees and Immigrants administers them. Yet secondary migrants are the biggest group of refugees from Burma.
Just a reminder, Bill Clinton began the flow of refugees to Iowa for his meatpacking buddies, here.
Ohr calls it a crisis.
It is a crisis alright, but one not to be solved by throwing more taxpayer dollars to contractors! Let’s bring fewer refugees!