Burmese resettled in crime-ridden neighborhoods in Oakland, CA
Posted by Ann Corcoran on February 18, 2010
Same old story! Naive refugees who have lived sheltered lives in refugee camps are dropped off by federal contractors (kind of like Haliburton!) and expected to survive in mostly black (and probably Hispanic) neighborhoods in places like Oakland, CA. Hat tip: Federale (see his website here)
From the East Bay Express:
Ale Sho had been in the United States just three weeks when he and his neighbor were accosted while returning to their apartments from an Asian grocery. Ale Sho was carrying two bags filled with fruit juice and wearing a produce-stuffed backpack that also contained a benefits card loaded with enough credits to sustain him and his family for a month. As the two friends neared to their Eastlake district apartment, three young men who had been eyeing them crossed the street and began to follow. Walking the last two blocks more briskly with their heavy groceries, Ale Sho told his neighbor, “They do not look nice.”
Just as they reached the gate of their complex, one of the young men grabbed Ale Sho’s backpack. Although his neighbor had already run upstairs into the complex, Ale Sho refused to surrender the pack. After a short tug-of-war with the robber, he saw one of the young men pointing a gun at him. Miraculously, Ale Sho was able to get inside the gate and shut it with himself and his groceries intact.
“We had many, many hard times in Burma,” said Ale Sho, a lanky man in his thirties who spent the prior fourteen years in a Thai refugee camp. “When we came to the US we thought it will be free, so we feel more upset about [the robbery]. We thought we would be released from the hard times, but we are still unsafe.”
Nothing was stolen from Ale Sho, who like many other Burmese immigrants uses no surname. But the attempted armed robbery left him with a mental scar. Through a translator, he said he’s afraid he will run into those young black men again. [Gee, IRC, do we have another failure of the magical melting pot!]
As usual the federal contractor, in this case the International Rescue Committee, makes excuses. It is the usual litany: times are tough and this particular group is harder than most to resettle (I heard that same story with the Iraqis!). However, even if times are tough, the IRC continues to call for MORE REFUGEES TO COME TO AMERICA! I suppose that is because now the contractors (volags) are going to receive double the amount (per head) they were getting to resettle refugees, here.
Resettlement workers find the task of assisting these refugees, particularly the Karenni, one of the most challenging they have ever undertaken.
“When I compare them in how prepared they are for American culture, I’d say they are the least prepared,” said Don Climent, the regional resettlement director for the International Rescue Committee, who during the past thirty years has helped to resettle refugees from as far afield as Bosnia, Iraq, and Bhutan. “They have more things to learn and more things to accomplish before they can fully participate in American society.”
For the East Bay’s growing Burmese refugee population, it is a particularly bad time to be embarking on a new life.
But, nevertheless, inspite of previous stories about crime against refugees in Oakland I don’t see the US State Department cutting off the IRC’s flow of refugees to that crime-ridden city (and no jobs to boot!).
For more on Burmese refugees struggling in the US or cities struggling with an overload of refugees and ethnic tensions, use our search function for Bowling Green, KY, Ft. Wayne, IN, Greensboro, NC, Houston, TX, Pittsburgh, PA and the list goes on (I can’t remember all the cities anymore!).
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