Burmese conflicted about coming to the US

Here is an article from the San Francisco Chronicle about the large number of Burmese refugees entering the US.  You may have noticed them in your city or town already.  Since 2006, according to this article, we have resettled 32,000 Burmese refugees (mostly Christian with some Muslims slipped in) and expect another 18,000 this year.

We’ve written many times about the Burmese but since we have so many new readers I thought this article had some useful information about the Patriot Act and the what is known as the ‘material support for terrorism provision’ and how it can be waived. 

Thanks to a new U.S. policy, Nid Paw hopes to become one of 18,000 Burmese refugees allowed to settle in the United States in 2008. Before the change in law, the Patriot Act had barred refugee status for those who had provided “material support” to organizations on the State Department terrorist list. Because many Burmese refugees had lived in regions where ethnic armies have fought for independence against government troops for decades, they were typically denied entry simply for giving food, water or housing to guerrilla fighters – even if under duress.

In 2006, the Department of Homeland Security recognized that Burmese refugees were unlikely to be terrorists and waived the material support clause, opening the door to an estimated 140,000 Burmese refugees living in nine camps along the Thailand-Burma border.

But the change also makes Nid Paw and other refugees uncertain about the lives they will leave behind and the problems they will face with a different culture, language and educational system, and an economy that is likely to offer no better than a minimum-wage job.

Besides the information on terrorism and the situation in Burma, it was interesting to see that the Burmese really hope to return to a democratic Burma someday.   Chances are slim because most refugees in America won’t make much more than minimum wage, so the cost alone would be prohibitive.

Nid Paw is unsure how she will arrange travel documents to return to Thailand. Refugees must wait five years before applying for green cards, and even then many lack the funds to return.

Using our search function for ‘Burmese refugees’ here is the archive for previous posts on this group.

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