Once again, readers, forget the humanitarian mumbo-jumbo and remember that one of the primary drivers of refugee resettlement is the ‘need’ for cheap LEGAL labor!
We told you about this back in November, here, where a Maine immigration lawyer and a nursing home company, thought it was a brilliant idea to send a large Congolese family to a small town in Maine—to supply the nursing home company with cheap labor!***
Now, it looks the scheme is doomed. Why? Mostly because the family is lonely for their own kind of people (one member has already packed up and moved to Portland), and Catholic Charities did a rotten job taking care of them and acclimating them to small town American life.
Economists, business leaders and politicians agree that immigration is key to reversing or at least stopping rural Maine’s population losses. And some rural towns and businesses have already started looking to immigration to improve their numbers. [I don’t accept the premise that small towns will be revived by bringing in the third world, or even the premise that we must ‘save’ these towns!—ed]
But the experience of the Kalutas, the first refugee family to be resettled in a small Maine town rather than a city, shows that newcomers need more than jobs and housing if they are going to stay and contribute long term.
In August, the Kaluta family — 15 people from the Democratic Republic of Congo — was resettled by Catholic Charities Maine to Thomaston, population 2,781, because a nursing home there had jobs for them and agreed to provide housing and transportation to and from work. Because of Maine’s workforce shortage [would not be a shortage if they paid well!–ed], their employer, DLTC Health Care, which operates a chain of long-term care facilities, had been unable to find enough employees to hire in the local community.
Although the Kaluta family members have jobs and housing, their lives in Thomaston are tenuous, as a recent Maine Focus article details. [Be sure to see how much DLTC charges them for housing! I have a lot of sympathy for these refugees!—ed]
The Kalutas did have a caseworker from Catholic Charities who spoke one of their languages, Swahili, but he was located over 70 miles away in Portland. And the family didn’t trust him because he rarely answered their calls and he visited them only twice in Thomaston after they moved, according to the family.
The situation the Kalutas are in is working for their employer: The nursing home now has five people in positions it was otherwise unable to fill. But whether the situation can work for the family themselves — and for other families in the future — remains to be seen.
The governor of Maine did withdraw the state from the UN/US State Department Refugee Admissions Program back in early November, but it only means that Catholic Charities (the same agency that screwed up with this family!) will run the program unless he joins Tennessee in a state’s rights lawsuit.
***Having had a mother in a nursing home not that long ago, the idea of people caring for elderly loved ones who do not understand English is an abomination. Elderly Americans have enough trouble communicating what is wrong with them in English, let alone forcing them to try to communicate with a non-English speaking refugee.