Immigrants threaten society: Quebecers openly debate preserving their culture

I’ve seen mention a couple of times in the last few days that polls in Quebec, Canada are showing an increase in the number of Quebecers who believe that non-Christian immigrants are a threat to their culture.  I don’t know much about what is happening in Canada, so I can’t make a judgement about recommendations made here,  but thought I should make readers aware that there is an on-going open debate about preserving the province’s culture.

On the one-year anniversary of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission report — it was released on May 22, 2008 — which recommended more openness and tolerance on the part of heritage Quebecers for the cultural habits and religious expression of newcomers to Quebec, it appears the report has had no effect whatsoever. Or at least not the effect the commission wanted.

Quebecers are not only resisting the commission’s recommendations, their attitudes have hardened. A Leger Marketing poll commissioned by the Association for Canadian Studies, conducted May 13-16, found that 40% of Quebec francophones view non-Christian immigrants as a threat to Quebec society, as compared to 32% in 2007.

No doubt galvanized by the Bouchard-Taylor experience, which many Quebecers felt was over-solicitous of immigrants’ feelings and under-appreciative of heritage values and customs, the Movement Laique Québeçois (Quebec Secular Movement) (MLQ) has called upon the provincial government to draw up a social contract that would affirm Quebec’s secular character.

The MLQ proposes the implementation of a secular charter of fundamental rights, which would include neutrality around religion in publicly funded fields. It is asking specifically for a ban on religious symbolism in the outerwear — including kippas, hijabs and crosses — of all employees in the public sector, such as medicine, education and law courts.

Read on.

I always did think it was a good idea to get out of the public school system anyway, however one needed to make that happen, so maybe as schools get necessarily more cumbersome people will bail out.

Using the “R” word snapped me to attention

For days we’ve been getting alerts about the terrible refugee situation in Sri Lanka, but I have been too lazy to post.  Maybe after awhile one gets dulled to one more “refugee crisis.”    It was the word “resettlement” in this article that brought me around today and I figured I better at least mention this latest crisis.

(RTTNews) – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday requested the Sri Lankan government to provide international relief agencies with “unhindered access” to the refugee camps housing hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced in the recent military offensive against the Tamil Tiger rebels in the country’s northeastern regions.

After talks with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse at his residence in Kandy, Ban acknowledged that the Sri Lankan government was trying its level best to provide assistance to those displaced in the recent military offensive, but warned that it was not enough.

“The government is doing its utmost best”, but added that there was a “wide gap between what is needed and what can be done”.

His request for greater international access to the refugee camps follows earlier complaints by several international aid agencies that the Sri Lankan government has restricted their access to the camps for the displaced.

Let’s just hope Ban Ki-moon is referring to resettlement within Sri Lanka.

His remarks on Saturday came just days after President Rajapaksa assured visiting Indian National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon that his government has charted out plans for the resettlement of the 280,000 war-displaced Tamils within the next six months.

“We will try to work hard to keep that promise realized,” Ban said Friday. “They need to be resettled as soon as possible.”

Ban’s Sri Lankan visit comes four days after President Rajapaksa declared victory in the country’s 25-year civil war against the Tamil Tiger rebels.

I think ol’ President Rajapaksa is being too optimistic.   I don’t think the Tigers are finished.   Ethnic nationalism is on the rise in the world.   Read about the Tamil Tiger rebels here.   Among other great achievements they are credited with developing the suicide bomber vest.

Endnote:  We have resettled 15 refugees from Sri Lanka this fiscal year and only 1 in the whole of 2008, 2 in 2007, and 6 in 2006.  I didn’t look back further than that but, it looks like we have an up-tick this year.

North Carolina: Refugee magnet in sour economy

The headline for this story from the News & Observer from Raleigh, NC, “Despite economy, refugees still flock here” implies that refugees look at a map of the US from some dismal camp half a world away and pick North Carolina.  They don’t, in fact until they get on a plane most have no clue where they will be deposited.   North Carolina is one of the states suffering the most from unemployment, yet volags (supposedly voluntary agencies) such as Church World Service just keep bringing them in.  The volags choose!

One of the main points that attracted my attention in this story is that the volag public relations machine tells reporters that all the refugees come from god-forsaken camps and so any living conditions in America are better than what they had.  Well, it isn’t true.  Yes, the Burmese and Bhutanese were in camps, but the Iraqis (the largest group arriving in the US) were not in camps, nor were the Meshketian Turks (Russian Muslims) that Church World Service ‘s subcontractor Virginia Council of Churches was bringing to the county where I live.   We were told some of them had homes to sell before coming to the US.

Refugee agencies say that most refugees find ways to manage, no matter how tight their finances. After months or years of living in refugee camps, sometimes without such basics as running water, they don’t expect luxuries.

Actually that last part is not true.  We have reported about 20 times that Iraqis do “expect luxuries” and maybe that is why they aren’t very popular with the resettlement agencies—-they aren’t grateful enough!

In the opening lines of this News & Observer article, longtime critic of the Refugee Resettlement Program, Don Barnett, had this to say.

Refugees get cash assistance from the government for up to eight months. After that, they are eligible for the same government welfare programs that other U.S. residents may receive. Many also get support from churches and community organizations.

Don Barnett, a former State Department employee, has become a well-known critic of the U.S. refugee program. He says the government has started bringing in refugees who struggle to assimilate. He cites a 2005 report from the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, which surveyed refugees who arrived in the previous five years. It showed that more than half were receiving food stamps and 39 percent were using Medicaid.

Those who find jobs hurt the labor market for native workers, especially now, said Barnett, a software developer who lives in Nashville, Tenn.

“They are taking some pretty lousy jobs,” he said. “It’s allowed corporate America to keep some abusive models, and it’s had a significant impact on keeping wages down.” [See Center for Immigration Studies report here on immigrant labor depressing wages.]

The state report says refugees who found employment recently earn an average of $8.50 an hour.

These North Carolina refugees are now so fortunate, thanks to the employment services of the humanitarians at Church World Service and any other volags operating in North Carolina,  that they get to work in a chicken processing plant.   So what else is new!

Several dozen refugees from Myanmar recently started commuting two hours each way to a Perdue chicken processing plant in Rockingham. Some are paying a transportation service to take them to and from work each day.

I would like to know, but no one ever asks, does Perdue (or Swift & Co. or Tysons Food) give charitable contributions to Church World Service for the employment services it provides?

Endnote:  We have written about North Carolina many times, use our search function at the left to find more posts.  However, please be sure to return to this one in February where I discussed the inter-volag competition for territory in NC.

Iraqi refugees returning to Iraq, maybe, maybe not

We hear so much conflicting news, who is to say what is correct and what isn’t anymore as it relates to Iraqi refugees.   Here is a story that says Iraqis (Muslim Iraqis) are returning to Iraq in a big way.  Tomorrow there will be a story that says they aren’t.

More than a million Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people have returned to their homes in Iraq over the past six years, despite the violence that prevails in the country. 

As of April this year, 609,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and approximately 409,000 refugees had returned to their homes in Iraq, according to the latest figures published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

UN Return Assistance Centers

The Iraqi immigration authorities are encouraging refugees to return, explaining that the security situation in the country has improved.

The UNHCR has opened return assistance centers in Baghdad, with the aim of supporting returnees and assisting them to integrate back into communities.

Most of the people returning to Iraq are middle class, Sidky said. Christians and other minorities in Iraq have faced persecution since Saddam Hussein was ousted and many of them have fled the violence to seek better lives elsewhere.

However, she said most of those returning were Muslim, since they are a majority in the country and most of those who fled were Muslim.

I will say that if Obama pulls us out precipitously and a bloodbath follows, it will be Obama’s bloodbath.

By the way, I haven’t seen any news stories about unhappy Iraqis leaving the US recently, I wonder if there hasn’t been a big effort made by the volags to keep them happy and out of the newspapers.