Troubles pile up for the “rainbow nation”

I would like to say more about this story but am running out of time tonight, so I’m just going to post it.  The story is from the Associated Press and is just more in the sad saga of a nation sinking under the weight of uncontrolled immigration.  South Africa, the country that was dubbed the “rainbow nation” for its welcoming stance on immigrants (come one and all they said) has seen 60 people killed in “xenophobic” riots in the last few weeks alone. 

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — City authorities vowed Tuesday to challenge a court order to move some 3,500 immigrants living in a camp near a popular tourist destination after they were forced from their homes in a wave of xenophobic violence.

The sprawling camp on a wind-swept beach near the Cape of Good Hope has come to symbolize South Africa’s dilemma about what to do with the tens of thousands displaced by the attacks that erupted a month ago.

Cape Town’s High Court ruled late Monday that the city must open community centers to house the displaced.

But authorities said moving the immigrants would risk exacerbating tensions with native South Africans, many of whom accuse the foreigners of “stealing” scarce jobs and services. The xenophobic attacks left at least 60 people dead.

“We want to reduce tensions, not increase them,” said Robert Macdonald, spokesman for Cape Town.

Civil rights groups have charged that the “safe sites,” such as the camp at a former picnic area at Soetwater, are like internment camps.

“The conditions there are so bad,” said Patrick Chauke, the powerful head of a parliamentary Home Affairs committee. “The tents have been blown by the wind. There are women and children who are dumped there.”

The camp includes nearly 2,000 Somali refugees. They say they are too afraid to return to the communities that chased them out and looted their stores, can’t return to Somalia, and want the U.N. refugee agency to move them to another country such as Australia or the United States.

U.N. representatives over the weekend said they couldn’t be relocated, prompting the Somalis to threaten charity volunteers, trash food and begin a hunger strike. They also threatened to jump into the rough, icy waters and claimed that several had already committed suicide by drowning.

Iraqi professionals find jobs in America scarce

A blogger at something called “Principle Pictures” gives a first hand account of a group of Iraqi professionals arriving in the US and finding their former professions in Iraq mean very little here. 

On Saturday afternoon forty-eight Iraqi refugees who have resettled in the U.S. arrived at Reagan International Airport. The men wore pressed suits and ties and the women had freshly polished fingernails and high heels. They were clearly dressed to impress. In their luggage they carried a most prized possession – resumes detailing their work with American companies, the American military and the American government in Iraq. While they are a unique refugee group — all are college-educated professionals — they face the most common refugee problem: continuing their careers in America

I confess I don’t understand why the outfit that brought them, Upwardly Global, brings immigrants to America with the expectation that they will walk into good jobs.  It seems cruel.  We have seen one story after another from around the country where educated refugees are cleaning motels or cutting meat. 

We even had one sad sounding Iraqi college professor whose husband was a doctor write to our blog literally begging us to tell her what sort of jobs they might have in America.    How do you tell older people, formerly successful people, that they will likely have no satisfying work. 

Iraqis learned the hard truths about hunting for a job here: human resources managers spend an average of 20 seconds on every resume, personal stories (even the heart-wrenching ones they all have to tell) have no place in a job interview, the economy is terrible, resumes should be limited to a page or two (most of theirs are 3, 4 and 5 pages), and, most difficult for them to hear, don’t expect their employers in Iraq to hire them in America. 

“Iraqis are having a hard time coming to terms with the reality that while their education and skills were valued in Baghdad, Fallujah, and Basra, they are not valued here,” says Jane Leu, Upwardly Global’s founder and president. “These people were leaders in Iraq, and they will be leaders here if given the chance. The idea that all immigrants have to pull themselves up by their boot straps is outdated.”

I wrote about Upwardly Global kicking off a lobbying campaign in April to bring more Iraqis to the US here.  They are a non-profit group,  but apparently act as a head hunters for American companies.   Sounds like they fell down on the job with this group.

Read Judy’s earlier post here about how Iraqi officials do not want to lose Iraq’s professionals—they need them to rebuild Iraq.