Add Texas (Texas!) to the list of states where Iraqis are not finding work

I just last night told you again that Refugees International is still pushing for us to resettle 105,500 Iraqi refugees in the US this fiscal year!  Now, here comes news that Texas has become state number 16 in our list of states* with unhappy Iraqi refugees (that we know of!).  We thought Texas was one of the few US states not in dire economic circumstances yet.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Rand Hikmat-Mahmood, an Iraqi refugee who arrived in Houston with her husband and 13-year-old son five months ago, is weighing one of the most difficult decisions of her life.

She is considering packing up her family and returning to Iraq.

“The economic situation is very difficult here,” she said. “We cannot find jobs.”

It’s getting worse.   And, the State Department and Office of Refugee Resettlement consider Houston a “preferred community.”

Refugees from across the globe are discovering a difficult economic reality in much of America, including Houston, according to multiple resettlement organizations. Caseworkers in Houston are dealing with a major influx of refugees while faced with a smaller pool of available jobs for them.

“We are feeling the consequences of the downturn in the economy, like everyone else is,” said Oleg Jolick, refugee resettlement director for the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston. “The trend is worsening.”

Refugees keep coming.

While the economy is declining, the number of refugees is increasing. The Houston area is considered a major destination for refugees in large part because of the availability of jobs, affordable housing and the warm climate.

Catholic Charities expects to resettle 700 refugees and Cuban parolees this year, up from 600 last year. YMCA International Services has already resettled about 200 refugees since the start of the fiscal year in October, compared with 187 in all of last year. The organization estimates it may settle 600 this year.

This (below) is such a crock.  It is not always a choice between living on welfare in the US or dying!  Obviously this Iraqi woman, the subject of this article, is not fearful of dying if she returns to Iraq.  She and her also well-educated husband should be cared for in the region, if not in Iraq, by the Iraqi government so that they will be able to help Iraq re-build when the time comes.

This is how these government contractors, like Catholic Charities, sell refugee resettlement to the public by offering up this false choice.

While some critics have questioned why the State Department continues to settle refugees in tough economic times, refugee organizations said the U.S. government cannot turn away people fleeing persecution.

“Refugee resettlement is a humanitarian effort of the government, and the role is first-and-foremost to protect people’s lives and take them from the situation where their life is in danger to where their life is not in danger anymore,” Jolick said. “Even with all of these problems, even with all of this economy and all of this uncertainty, they’re still better off here than they were where they were.”

The reality is that Jolick would be on the unemployment rolls himself if the State Department spigot was turned off for awhile due to our economic woes.   Don’t let them fool you, the flow could be slowed.  The numbers were dramatically cut immediately following 9/11, they could be cut again.

Indeed the refugee program will be seriously damaged in the eyes of the public if tent cities begin to spring up around US cities as was mentioned in Boise, ID recently.

Reforms needed:

One final thought, I bet this family doesn’t have its own sponsor, a church or other such group that is looking out for them.  Some of these families’ transitions might not be so challenging if we went back to that system of resettlement.

* Texas becomes state number 16 in our parade of states with no jobs and unhappy Iraqi refugees. The 15 others are: Arizona, Maryland, New Hampshire,Virginia, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Idaho, Connecticut, New Mexico, California, Utah, North Carolina and Washington. See our Iraqi refugee category for all these stories and more.

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