Yes, it is. We all know that the quest for cheap labor is fueling the push for stepped up immigration to America. Even President Bush freely admits that. It is in the news daily. But, is it also driving Refugee Resettlement?
One of the things I’ve been pondering, and this will sound pretty inflamatory is: Is Refugee Resettlement a modern form of slavery? Are “human resource” managers and volag workers scouring camps around the world looking for bright laborers? When companies hire refugees for $8 an hour, who for all intents and purposes can’t really go home (well they can, they just have to pay their own way), does that help keep wages low in America? We then further subsidize big business by supporting the refugee family with welfare.
In addition, businesses which hire refugees who are on welfare can receive a federal tax credit through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. The refugee need only stay on the job for 400 hours (a couple of months!) for the business to reap our federal tax dollars.
Yesterday someone sent me this article from the Wall Street Journal, that although meant to tell us how wonderful the immigrant situation is in Louisville, KY, made me wonder further if Refugee Resettlement is really a big business venture covered by do-gooder ‘white hats.’
You really need to read the article, there is so much in it. Here are some excerpts:
“It’s an economic imperative to attract immigrants at all levels, from factory workers to software engineers,” says Omar Ayyash, a Palestinian from Jordan who runs the city’s Office of International Affairs.
Louisville’s approach has changed the composition of a 700,000-person city, which was once mainly white and African American. From 1990 to 2004, the city’s foreign-born population jumped 388% — far above the 73% increase in the national average — as it absorbed thousands of Asians, Eastern Europeans, Africans fleeing persecution and Latin Americans in search of opportunity. Some 80 languages are spoken in its schools, and one apartment complex — “Americana” — houses families from 42 countries.
All of the immigrant groups pose challenges, and perhaps none more than the Somali Bantu. While the overwhelming majority of Bantu men have jobs, their large families, illiteracy and limited skills can make self-sufficiency an elusive goal.
The first couple hundred Bantu arrived in Louisville in 2003 and 2004. But since then, the city has attracted hundreds more of the preliterate Muslim minority who were originally assigned to other U.S. cities. “People are nice, the rent is cheap and you don’t need English to get a job,” says Nahiyo Osman, a Bantu woman whose family moved to Louisville from Chicago six months ago.
Charnley Conway, a vice president of human resources at UPS, which plans to add 5,000 jobs at its Louisville hub over the next three years, says investing in immigrants like the Bantu is vital.
Despite everyone’s efforts, the immigrant population is sometimes a financial burden on the city. A year ago, Mr. Issack moved into public housing because he couldn’t afford a bigger apartment after his fourth child was born.
But Tim Barry, the director of the Louisville Metro Housing Authority, says he isn’t concerned. “This is the sacrificial generation,” says Mr. Barry, who is convinced the next Bantu generation will be better off.
I wonder if Mr. Barry who speculates that the next generation will be better off, knows about the Kurdish gangs in Nashville (here also) and the disenfranchised youth in Utica, NY. Will the cheap labor really be worth it in the end?
P.S. To Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, I’m taking bets that Louisville is one of the 30 cities Imam Hendi has in mind when he speaks of 30 Mulsim mayors by 2015.