How do refugees get businesses?

 Your tax dollars:

One hears over and over from the proponents of more refugee resettlement how refugees are industrious and start businesses that help revitalize cities.  Surely some do—-with a little help from the Feds.   A few days ago we addressed the issue of how refugees get cars.  In that post we mentioned Individual Development Accounts as a way of saving to get a car, or start a business.  But, there is yet another way you subsidize refugee businesses with your tax dollars.  It’s called the Microenterprise Development Program.

The federal government (Office of Refugee Resettlement) gives grants to volags who in turn use the money to give refugees a leg-up in business.  I’m just wondering if the average poor American schmo in Hagerstown could get in on this, or do you have to have been persecuted somewhere else in the world  for this sweet deal?   The answer:    No schmos accepted; persecution is a prerequisite. 

The microenterprise development projects are intended for recently arrived refugees on public assistance, refugees who possess few personal assets, and refugees who lack a credit history that meets commercial lending standards. The projects are also intended for refugees who have been in the U.S. for several years and wish to supplement salaried income.

The grants are administered by the volags which of course must endear them to their refugee clients.  I’m not a business person but these numbers don’t sound so great to me.

Excluding loan funds, the total amount of ORR operational funding expended for these microenterprise projects was $26,846,726 over the fourteen-year period. For 5,275 businesses assisted, this represents an average cost-per-business start or expansion of $5,089.


The total number of jobs created by new and expanding/strengthening businesses (including the business owner) was 5,218 which translates to $5,145 per job created.

So, let me get this straight?   Almost $27,000,000 was expended just to administer the program, and that doesn’t include the loan itself?  And, these grants given out by the likes of Jewish Family Services, Church World Service and Catholic Charities to name a few cost us over $5000 per job created.    Hey, ACLU where’s the separation of church and state?  Nevermind that, where is Grover Norquist and the Americans for Tax Reform?   Oh, yeh, I forgot Mr. Norquist is lobbying for more refugees.  

Australia to halt African Refugee Resettlement

There is a brouhaha down under as the Australian government announces a temporary halt to African refugee resettlement.   The Howard government says the reason is twofold:  the Africans are not assimilating and they say they want to focus their attention on helping Iraqi and Burmese refugees.    Critics say this is an election year ploy.

Mr Andrews [Immigration Minister] said Africans, particularly Sudanese, had experienced serious problems settling in Australia.


“They tend to have more problems and challenges associated with them. Their level of education, for example, is a lot lower than for any other group of refugees,” he said.

The Adelaide News went on to report that refugees would soon be sitting a test to help determine their capacity to assimilate. 

In August the Federal Government announced that all new refugees will have to sit an “integration test”.


The new gateway test – which was developed with African refugees in mind – will assess their ability to adapt to the Australian way of life.

Last weekend, at the Immigration meetings I attended in Washington, I met an Australian immigration activist who confirmed over dinner that indeed this is a hot topic in Australia, but he didn’t have any confidence that the Howard government was actually going to accomplish very much.

Go here, here and here for more discussion of this latest initiative in Australia.  I got a kick out of the BBC coverage.  They managed to work into a very short report “xenophobic voters” and “nativist streak”, I wondered why they didn’t add “unwelcoming” when describing the rural citizens’ objections:

Only last year the town of Tamworth in New South Wales voted against hosting a trial refugee resettlement programme after the Sudanese were branded as criminals by the local mayor.

Note that the total number of refugees going to Australia is in the 12,000-15,000 range.  By contrast the US is seeking to resettle 70,000-80,000 this fiscal year.