Dallas refugee: “I see people under the bridge and I think, ‘Will that be me?'”

You guessed it!   Another article about unemployed and scared refugees.  Another article where the refugee resettlement agencies whine for more money, hoping that somehow all the money flowing from the Obama administration’s printing presses will wash over them and the tens of thousands of refugees they are helping bring to the US this year.

Lal Subba is the young Bhutanese refugee who is worried about being homeless under the bridge someday.   We have commited to resettling 60,000 of Subba’s countrymen within five years. 

“I see people under the bridge and I think, ‘Will that be me?’ ” he said in the halting English he learned in the camp.

The solution is not to slow the number of refugees, but to squeeze more funding from American taxpayers so that the likes of Anne Richard and Lavinia Limon can keep their jobs that fund them well and allow them to feel so very good about their noble work.    Nevermind that there is even talk of tent cities in places like Boise.

“The way the program is set up, we are bringing people in but leaving them high and dry,” said Anne Richard, the International Rescue Committee’s vice president of government relations and advocacy, who believes the financial crisis has threatened the resettlement process.

No kidding!   Yet, slowing down the flow is not an option.

The solution is not to decrease the flow of refugees but to overhaul the entire system during the new administration, said Lavinia Limón, president of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and the former head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement under the Clinton administration. She wants more resources channeled toward housing assistance as well as programs that focus on the increasingly diverse pool of refugees entering the United States.

There are no plans to slow the flow to Texas, according to this article.   Yet, readers will remember it was only last week that we reported there were no jobs for Iraqis in Houston.

Texas has suffered less than its Midwestern counterparts and has no plans to slow its refugee influx. It took in a little more than 5,000 refugees last year, an increase of almost 800 from 2007. Texas generally places in the top four states for the number of refugees it accepts annually from the federal government.

Then there is the plane ticket issue.

Toward the end of this article another refugee discusses how hard it is for her to meet her financial obligations and one of those is the repayment of her family’s plane tickets to the US.

Her (Paw Htoo, Burmese refugee) increasingly Americanized children ask for pizza and fried chicken, indulgences she said she can’t afford. Her 17-year old brother works weekends at a florist to help with the rent and begin to pay IRC back for the plane tickets.

A well-kept secret of the refugee program is that although the refugees plane tickets are paid by you, the taxpayer, they are supposed to reimburse the federal government.  The resettlement agencies act as the collection agents. 

In September 2007 we asked State Department representatives at the Hagerstown meeting about this practice.   Not surprisingly we had heard that many of these tickets were never repaid.    What was surprising was that we learned the volags, like the ones Lavinia Limon and Anne Richard are leading, serve as the collection agents and get to pocket 25% of any airfare they collect.   State Department reps said, afterall, they would have to hire collection agents, so they might as well contract these volags and kick some more of your money back into their coffers.

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