Baltimore, MD: another bunch of unhappy Iraqi refugees

Update Nov. 8th:  Oops!   I can’t believe I forgot to give you the link to this story.  Check out the story and comments here.

Here we go again.  Where is Matthew Lee?   Lee is the Associated Press reporter who has been an advocate for groups like the International Rescue Committee pushing for more Iraqi refugees that they can’t afford to take care of.  

I know there will be howls at what I’m going to say, but what the heck, here goes.  I know a little about animal rescue and there is a psyciatric condition known as ‘Animal Collection Syndrome.’   I’m wondering if there have been any studies on refugee collecting?  

The only other explanation for what I’m reporting here is that these volags like the money too much that they get from the federal tax payer, while the State Department is bringing in too many refugees.

The latest group of unhappy Iraqi refugees are in our home state, Maryland.  The International Rescue Committee dismisses them as having “unrealistic expections.”   Gee where have I heard that before (here, here, here, and here)?

This month 15 refugee families from Iraq, most with children, face the loss of their rental assistance. Without jobs, transportation or English-language skills, some fear they will be evicted and left homeless.

The families, which have been in Baltimore since August and September, say they were promised eight months of assistance, including food stamps, rent, and utilities, along with language and job-training and placement assistance. But in October they learned that their rental assistance would end after only two months, and some have outstanding utility bills of hundreds of dollars, according to Dr. Nasir Al Khalidi, an Iraqi-American who has been helping the refugees. “Some of them say return us to die in Iraq–it would be better to die in Iraq than die of starvation in America,” Al Khalidi says. “Can you believe that?”

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), a nonprofit U.S. State Department contractor that resettles refugees from around the world, says Iraqi refugees often have unrealistic expectations, but that things work out.

A VP for the IRC basically calls them ingrates:

The family says it has no money even for bus fare to reach English-language classes at Baltimore City Community College downtown. The man says he has been asked by the aid agency to repay airfare totaling $2,400 for the family [ The IRC gets a cut of the airfare they collect that you the taxpayer paid for]. He retrieves a bill from Baltimore Gas and Electric totaling $370.90, which arrived on Oct. 18, the same day the family received a $138 phone bill.

A woman who answered the telephone at the International Rescue Committee’s Baltimore office referred a reporter to Bellor, IRC’s resettlement vice president, who is based in New York City. While unfamiliar with the specifics of the Baltimore families, Bellor acknowledges that many Iraqi refugees feel swindled by the resettlement process.

“The story is the same as you’ll find in other places,” Bellor says. “What they expected and what they encountered were different.”

Bellor says Iraqis tend to be harder to please than, say, Burmese refugees, in part because many Iraqis had professional careers and middle-class lives before the war. “What often happens,” she says, is “a job is found for them. They’re like, ‘What? I have to go make beds in a hotel?’ Some of them refuse these jobs.”

Just send us more federal tax money and we can make it right!

Bellor says that IRC is doing what it can with the resources it has. “I think the U.S. refugee program could use a serious review,” she says. “The amount of money that’s available for refugees hasn’t kept pace with income and cost of living.”

Vice Presidents at the IRC make between $100,000 and $200,000 a year.  Maybe they could just cut a VP slot and help the refugees with the money they saved.

Remember that wise Iraqi boy in Tucson?

It is better to have 10 Iraqi refugees who are satisfied with their lives than having 100 angry ones with no life at all.

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