Here is an article from the Des Moines Register a couple of days ago describing how tough it is to assimilate refugees from African countries who have lived in camps most of their lives. This is worth a read to understand what is involved. In this story 200 Burundians have arrived in Des Moines, IA for work in a meatpacking plant (what else!). We are bringing 10,000 “vibrant” Burundian refugees into the US this year alone.
The article jogged my feeble memory about a report I read months ago and just found after searching through piles of documents spread around my desk and on the floor. It’s entitled, “The New Face of America’s Refugees: African Refugee Resettlement to the United States” by Heidi Boas and published in the Georgetown Immigration Journal. I’m telling you the source because I haven’t the patience to find it on line.
Here is the pertinent section that jumped into my mind when I read about the Burundians (as the din of Presidential politics plays in the background). Ms. Boas cites Congressional Black Caucus support as one of the main reasons for our refugee resettlement program extending to Africa in a big way.
* “A coalition of refugee resttlement organizations in Washington, DC, known as the InterAction Commission on Migration and Refugee Affairs (CMRA), took select Congressional staff members on three separate trips to Africa during the late 1990’s.” (this included members of the Congressional Black Caucus).
* “With Congressional Black Caucus members as leaders on both these Committees [Judiciary/John Conyers and International Relations/Mel Watt] during the mid-1990’s, the Caucus was ideally positioned to help refugee advocates push for their cause.”
* The trips lasting a week to two weeks took staffers to camps in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, the Bururndi-Tanzania border, Guinea and Liberia.
* “The trips that CMRA organized helped bring Congressional Black Caucus members on board to support increased African refugee resettlement to the United States.”
* “Indeed several individuals interviewed for this paper identified the Congressional Black Caucus as one of the most influential groups advocating over the past decade for increased African refugee resettlement to the United States.”
So, that’s why 10 years later we have resettled over 80,000 “vibrant” Somalis and will have 10,000 Burundians real soon. And, just think, we taxpayers likely paid for those CMRA trips to Africa.
See a previous post on Burundian Hutus to Tennessee here.