If you have about an hour and enough interest listen to this radio program (Your Call) broadcast from San Francisco for World Refugee Day last week. I found it very informative to hear three refugees, a representative of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Livonia (whoop-de-do) Limon of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, discuss refugee resettlement in America.
Here are a few nuggets from the program and my observations and interpretations of what was said:
* The hostess (with what I call the NPR woman voice) of the program asked the Iraqis if they were surprised by the invasion and they said ‘no’ and one mumbled something about how bad Iraq had become. They said they were however surprised by the aftermath of the invasion (presumably the chaos with insurgents and Al-Qaeda).
* The hostess asked these men, who were billed as fluent in English, how hard the “sanctions” were. When the men didn’t understand what she was asking, she said something to the effect of ‘you know the “economic” sanctions that the US put on Iraq’ and still neither man could answer her. It struck me as obvious that the “sanctions” had not affected them!
* When the Bhutanese refugee spoke he talked about his first miserable day in America and how he and another man arrived in the city and no one met them. They got on the wrong bus, got off in a bad neighborhood, walked around for hours, lost and thirsty, until some kind merchant gave them water. I’m wondering where were the volag employees who are supposed to meet them. This refugee praised America and was hardly heard from again during the program.
It gets better:
* One of the Iraqi single young men told the audience that he was a college-educated civil engineer who had worked for Bechtel in Iraq but decided he needed a change (no mention of threats) and that he went to Dubai and got a job (they need engineers). He said something that wasn’t completely audible but something like ‘Iraqis aren’t liked in some of those countries’. What? Other Middle Eastern Muslim countries are not kind to their fellow Muslims? So he just was “looking for an opportunity” and applied as a refugee to the US and here he is.
* Asked by the moderator of the show when did he decide he wanted to come to the US, he said, ‘I always wanted to come to the US, ever since I was 13 years old—I wanted to see the movies and TV.’
I’m listening to this Iraqi engineer and thinking, what is going on? He didn’t sound like he was having a horrible time living in squalor and fear—he was living in Dubai with an engineer job! Where are the destitute widows with children we hear about? The ones supposedly selling their bodies to feed their kids!
* The second Iraqi ‘refugee’ relates his rotten trip to the US, not to be outdone by the Bhutanese fellow. It was long: Jordan to Paris, Paris to NYC, NYC to San Franciso and can you believe it a kid cried in the seat behind him from Paris to NYC. Imagine how miserable that was—flying to freedom (airfare paid by the US taxpayer) and he is annoyed by a crying child! Life is tough!
* This second guy had been in Jordan for surgery because he had been caught somehow in a bomb blast. In Jordan he was helping journalists do something illegal, but it wasn’t clear what he was saying. A Doctors without Borders employee told him he should apply to go to America as a refugee and so he did, and here he is rooming with the Iraqi engineer.
BTW, the IRC representative said at one point that they were resettling mostly single men in the Bay Area.
* The host then asks about culture shock, but she asks how they plan to ‘maintain their Iraqi culture’ (this question is not about how they will assimilate to our culture, but how they can resist our rotten culture).
You would never guess in a million years what one of the Iraqis answered about what was so hard for him here. The dogs! The many dogs! He can’t stand the dogs! The dogs are everywhere you go! [Editor: In Islam dogs are as dirty as feces, urine and dead bodies.] After the dogs, it’s the sex. The moderator, wondering what about sex has shocked him and looking for clarification asks in approving tones, does he mean the same-sex marriage recently legalized in California? No! It was the sex change operations. What?! I’m thinking, how many sex change operations could he have been exposed to in three months? Then I remembered this was San Francisco. Need I say more.
Here then are two fine examples of so-called Iraqi “refugees” we have been hearing about for years.