This is one more in a long series of articles we’ve posted about unhappy and unemployed Iraqi refugees in the United States, but what makes this one different is that one woman ventures a hypothesis for why they are here inspite of the lousy conditions and uncertainty in which they are living.
The lead-in to the article from The National, a publication of the UAE, is as follows:
In the last two years, America has belatedly opened its doors to Iraqis seeking refuge and made efforts to resettle them across the country. But the lucky few who make it to the United States find economic catastrophe, few job opportunities and little to no help from the nation that brought them there. Neela Banerjee reports from Phoenix, Arizona.
Umm Ahmed, an Iraqi mother with a ten year old son had it rough in Iraq, but now spends her days chain-smoking, applying for jobs and worried about the end of her welfare assistance looming on the horizon.
But it is life in America, not the past in Iraq, that troubles Umm Ahmed’s sleep now. She gets government assistance for food and rent. But in a few weeks, her food and rent subsidies as a refugee will end – less than six months after they started. She has not found any work, despite filling out applications all over the city. At one restaurant, she said, the manager joked that she looked like Osama bin Laden’s mother.
Umm Ahmed goes to English classes and writes down new words in a small notebook she always carries, but her English is still rudimentary. None of the Iraqis she knows have found work, she said, and she worries that she and her son will be homeless.
Umm Ahmed talked and smoked for three hours, and by the end, only panic tumbled out. “The reason they are bringing a lot of refugees from Iraq to the US is that they are asking our forgiveness,” she said. “But they make it worse by having us here. There is no support, and people here think everyone from the Middle East is Osama bin Laden. If they can’t offer us help, why did they bring us here?”
Good question! And, here is an even better question, why are they (resettlement agencies) continuing to press for more and more Iraqis to be resettled in the US? Note Lavinia Limon of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (one of the top ten government contractors) just yesterday is asking her supporters to lobby Obama for more Iraqis when we are not taking care of what we have. Look at this letter she wants you to send the President.
Honestly, there is no logic to this business of bringing more and more refugees into our poor economy, and we have been told time and again that these agencies aren’t doing it for the money. So, I wondered about this once before —is there some sort of psychological malady at play here? Is it guilt, as this Iraqi woman suggests, or something else? In the animal rescue world there is a real psychological disorder called Animal Collector Syndrome, I wonder if there is a comparable syndrome for human beings. I don’t know why there wouldn’t be.
See also yesterday’s post about Lutheran Immigration Services, another federal contractor, and their worries about the number of refugees they are taking.