Iraqis to New Jersey and Massachusetts
Posted by Ann Corcoran on August 23, 2008
Over the next month there will be one article after another about Iraqi refugees headed to a city near you because the State Department is desperate to show critics they can reach the magic figure of 12,000 Iraqis resettled in the US by the end of FY08 and thus get the NGO’s (volags, non-government organizations) off their backs—but I bet you the NGO’s will still complain.
Here are a pair of articles from NJ and MA. Please check them out here and here. I’m focusing on the statements in these articles about the sort of places Iraqis will be resettled. In the Massachusetts article the statement is made that the government is looking for new places, smaller cities, to place Iraqis. It isn’t the government choosing, it’s the volags acting like they are the government (see my discussion with reader Jim at the Ft. Wayne post yesterday).
The government is seeking new communities to place the Iraqis, like Springfield, to avoid oversaturating cities such as San Diego and Detroit, where they have immigrated in large numbers, he said.
Then in NJ, some Iraqis are going to metropolitan New Jersey:
New Jersey – and the New York metropolitan area – are not usually major destinations for refugee resettlement.
Officials say the high cost of living and social service systems that are already overburdened in large urban areas are among the reasons why most refugees are often sent to smaller towns and cities across the U.S.
An official from the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration says New Jersey has received 65 Iraqi refugees since Oct. 1, 2007. He did not know how many Iraqis would be sent here in the coming weeks. [State Department doesn’t know because they have no control over where these refugees are placed, unless some city puts up a stink.]
Because we have the Arabic-speaking community, and New Jersey has a lot of diversity, we do get them here,” she said.
However, Catholic Charities has chosen less diverse Atlantic County to place refugees.
Catholic Charities is just one of the agencies in New Jersey that handles refugee resettlement. Other religious-based groups of various denominations have refugee programs, as do some private social service agencies and non-governmental organizations.
Hickey said the Camden Diocese runs the largest Catholic Charities refugee resettlement program in the state. He said the program has been helping the recent Iraqi arrivals settle throughout Atlantic County.
This all reminds me of when I was a kid and my father would let me blame him for something I didn’t want to do. If I didn’t want to go somewhere with someone, my father said, just tell them your father says you can’t go. These volags—non-profit groups with no power of their own—are choosing your city or town for refugees and pretending that big Daddy (the US State Department) is making them place refugees there.
If citizens don’t speak up then your city will join the “welcoming” and end up like Ft. Wayne, IN.
Reforms needed: I’ve suggested many times that there needs to be a comprehensive social and economic impact study done on a city or county in advance of refugee resettlement. Such a study would identify problems before refugees arrived. If it was determined that a locale could handle refugees the area would be reassessed periodically over the years to help determine if the city needed to take a breather as jobs became scarce or housing declined and so on. An open public process could also smooth the way for acceptance of the refugees—the present sneaky process dooms some refugees from the outset.
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