First I came across this article from the Quad-City Times about a Sudanese refugee family who came to America in 2004. The next day Chris sent me an article that actually preceded it which I’ll post on in Part II.
Both articles are so instructive on an important theme we’ve been writing about in recent days: anger against immigrants and welfare. But, this one also demonstrates once again how those resettling refugees are largely responsible for some of the troubles refugees are having.
The article starts out describing how on their first 4th of July, the father came home to find his wife and children huddled in the basement thinking war had broken out due to the loud fireworks going on outside. My first thought was, once again the volags, who are paid to resettle refugees, are falling down on the job. Does no one teach new Americans about our traditions?
The article discusses the good things in the Agok family’s life. People are helping them and the kids are getting an education. Then, when reporters are truthful as this one is, comes a section about the things that have gone badly. And, in this case it is not unlike what is happening in S. Africa except that American blacks aren’t killing black immigrants. Well, maybe nearly killing them, see this earlier post by Friends of Refugees Chris Coen.
But their resettlement has not been seamless. Not everyone welcomed them, and they learned that the U.S. is not always a place of peace. The family’s small apartment in Rock Island’s Lincoln Homes housing project is not the safe haven they sought.
“Hearing the shooting and violence, it really scares us,” Michael said. “I ask myself, ‘Am I in the wrong place again?’ I don’t want more conflict. What I have been through is enough.”
Some of the conflict is directed squarely at his family, which frustrates, scares and saddens him.
“People can be aggressive and cruel,” he said. “They become angry when I mispronounce a word. Our neighborhood in the complex here can be frightening.”
A commenter named Boomette hits the nail on the head. The volags who resettle refugees must be looking at the color of skin and just making assumptions that a black American community will welcome their black African brothers (see my post on the same problems in Roanoke, VA). Or, they are just looking for cheap housing.
This family has sponsors in New Windsor, Moline and Orion, and they end up in a Rock Island housing project? If you’re going to sponsor a family, you should not be dumping them somewhere where they will be surrounded by hostility.
And local black people make fun of this family’s mispronunciation of words? The irony. I hope the immigrants don’t end up speaking the way many of the locals do.
I wish the Ayuen family much success in their new country.
Mr. Agok wonders if he is experiencing threats because he is too black!
Rock Island Police have investigated several conflicts, including violent ones, between refugees and immigrants from Africa and American-born blacks.
“I don’t understand their thinking,” Michael said of some American blacks who he said have been “aggressive” toward the Africans. “Is it because we are more black?
“My family does nothing wrong. Why can’t they be welcoming to us? We are your visitors. We don’t come illegally.
No, Mr. Agok, it’s the same around the world. It is not the color of your skin. It is partially cultural, you aren’t like them. And, it has to do with welfare and work and a fear that you will take their jobs and that you are getting something they aren’t—special help as a refugee.
See Judy’s post yesterday on Mark Krikorian’s new book. I haven’t read the book but the discussion of his main point, that immigration is differant today not because of the immigrants themselves, but because we now have an extensive welfare system. Local people see refugees getting all sorts of special things and resentment builds, unlike the old days when immigrants were just like the citizens—scratching out a living and trying to give their children a better life. Everyone was in the same boat then. Today we have special boats for immigrants.