State Department pulling out of Michigan

John McCain isn’t the only one pulling out of Michigan. Gregg Krupa of the Detroit Times reports:

Michigan’s economy is so bad that the State Department is sending fewer Iraqi refugees to the area because of concerns that their future would not be bright.

After a request by relief workers, the policy of bringing Iraqis to metro Detroit if relatives or friends live in the area was changed to allow only those with immediate family to settle here, according to the State Department.

“The State Department has taken the measure of things and decided it would be better to send them somewhere else, where they might be self-sufficient, instead of coming to Michigan, because the economy is very bad here, and we have the highest unemployment in the country,” Belmin Pinjic of Lutheran Social Services of Michigan said.

But the Detroit area is the United States’s Little Iraq.

Michigan is home to 35 percent of all Iraqi-born residents of the United States, according to the Census Bureau.

The vast majority of them live in metro Detroit, where the Iraqi Muslim community numbers perhaps 12,000 and there are about 90,000 to 105,000 Chaldeans — Iraqi Catholics — according to sources in those communities.

 That is the largest population of Chaldeans outside of Iraq.

But the government can’t keep Iraqis from moving to the Detroit metro area, any more than the McCain campaign’s official decision can stop the unofficial campaign in Michigan.

Joseph Kassab, executive director of the Chaldean Federation of American, said he raised the issue with officials from the State Department.

“I explained to them that no matter what you do, if those people are sent somewhere else, they will end up here, no matter what you do,” Kassab said. “If they don’t have kin or relatives, they are still coming to metro Detroit because our people like to live together, and we support each other.

“We have people who own businesses who are willing to come forward, and they are doing that now to help them, to provide jobs until they are settled.”

The Chaldeans already had a settled community before the Iraq war, so they act like normal immigrants to America, welcoming their own and taking care of them.

…the Chaldean Federation is organizing a job fair and will begin providing some automobiles to the refugees with low-cost loans and easy payment terms.

Relief workers say the lack of public transportation in metro Detroit is often the most difficult barrier to resettlement, because it affects the housing, employment and education of the refugees.

Pay attention to this next paragraph.

“The refugees are doing well and prospering,” Kassab said. “We are extending our arms to them. The only problem is the transportation issue, and we are preparing a program so they will have cars.”

“We” are preparing a program. Not the government. Not the refugee agencies. The refugees’ countrymen. That’s not to say the refugees don’t take government aid. But real people who care about them make sure they are housed and fed and given the means to work. Many Chaldeans are small-businessmen, as in store owners. That’s also similar to previous immigrant groups, and that provides a path for newcomers as they can work in businesses owned by their countrymen.

I repeat from the article: The Chaldeans are Christians. They’re here to live their lives and prosper, not to change America.

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