East Bay, CA–not quite a haven

Could the East Bay area of California be our Iraqi receiving area number  six?  See our post yesterday listing other areas of the US expected to receive what promises to be a flood of Iraqi refugees in the coming year.  I thought for a minute that this was Nancy Pelosi’s district, but silly me, that would be as shocking as bringing Iraqi refugees to Hyannisport.

This article isn’t quite so cheery as the usual “haven” story and launches into the stresses and strains of living in America.   Among the culture shockers—our schools:

“That doesn’t look like a school, that looks like a disco,” said Hazim as the family passed by a high school and saw girls in low-rise pants and tank tops.

But on a more serious note, this article highlights again the mixed messages we are getting about the Iraqi refugee situation.  What is the real story?  Are we concerned that terrorists will get in, or are we worried about the signal it sends to the world—that Iraq will not be safe for a long time.  Or, both?

…. the slowdown is a clause in the Patriot Act that bars immigration to anyone who has offered “material support” to the enemy.

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But a spokesman for the State Department said the only bureaucratic bottleneck was the lack of “infrastructure” in Jordan and Syria. With two refugee processing centers now in place, 1,000 refugees should now enter the United States each month, Kurtis Cooper said in a telephone interview earlier this month.

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“We consider those issues to have been addressed,” he said.

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“It’s mystifying,” said Newland [Migration Policy Institute]. The long processing times occur “partly because they are Iraqis and the U.S. is conducting a war in Iraq,” she said. “But it’s also because the government doesn’t want to concede the vast majority will not be able to go back.”

For some other interesting views on this topic see Mother Jones here.

By the way,  it is probably no surprise that California tops the nation in the number of refugees resettled from 1983-2005.   More than 20 countries are represented in the 434,348 resettled.

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