This story comes today from Long Island (East Hampton, NY) and is another in a long line of stories about Iraqi refugees arriving in America and finding it disappointing—not all they thought it would be. They are lonely and unable to find work for which they can use their education and training. I recently told you about a high school student in Tucson who said the same thing of newly arrived Iraqis in Arizona.
He doesn’t exactly have a choice [about a job teaching Arabic]. Mr. Taresh is a 32-year-old Iraqi refugee who resettled in the United States on Aug. 21 with his mother, Malkia, and younger brother, Ali. He trusts that he’s in the land of opportunity, but so far, his experience has been one of immobility and discouragement.
“When I first got here, it was disappointing,” he said. “It wasn’t like how I had dreamed it. I was thinking I’m going to find a job easily, especially with my qualifications in my field. I thought I was going to get a scholarship to complete my studies.”
He was a civil and environmental engineer working for Bechtel in Iraq. Here he is living on welfare at the moment.
In America, he expected to find the opportunity to continue his studies, if not work as a civil engineer.
“But all my dreams turned to nightmares,” he said. “There is no public transportation, there are no people to mingle with — no Arab community at all, and we are feeling very isolated.” In Baghdad and Damascus, Syria, “we were surrounded by our people. It didn’t pass your mind that you’re going to miss something like this.”
Above he makes a point we have stressed before. People want to live with people like themselves. It is understandable that Iraqis want fellow Iraqis nearby, or that Somalis stay segregated in their own neighborhood or apartment complexes, but somehow only Americans of European background are called racist xenophobes for expressing that same desire.
Back to Mr. Taresh… In a couple of months his taxpayer funded welfare will begin to run out (some welfare lasts longer than 3 months though) so the volag workers, caseworkers (also paid by you) are coming calling to get him off the dime and get to work.
Last week, Mr. Taresh met with a representative from Catholic Charities, a local partner of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is contracted by the government to help handle refugee aid. They discussed concerns such as health insurance, food stamps, employment authorization documents, and finding a job.
Even Mom will have to work.
The transition has been hardest for Mr. Taresh’s mother. “She wants to go back,” he said. Mrs. Taresh found a job baby-sitting an 8-month-old on Shelter Island. “It’s kind of a shame for me to allow my mom to have a job. We are from a different culture. Back home, our mothers don’t have to work. They depend on us 100 percent.”
We have said this before. Wouldn’t it have made more sense (and cost us far less) for the US and the Iraqi government to take care of valuable workers like Mr. Taresh somewhere in the region until it is safe to go home and rebuild Iraq. It might even be safe enough now. But, then these volags wouldn’t have warm bodies to resettle and collect their government contracts and the leftist NGO’s wouldn’t be able to continue to bash the War in Iraq for their own political ends.
So what did that teenager in Tucson say:
It is better to have 10 Iraqi refugees who are satisfied with their lives than having 100 angry ones with no life at all.