Update November 18th: The tangled web that will likely hinder any investigation into charges of refugee neglect in BG, here.
Recent criticism of the Bowling Green International Center doesn’t seem to have slowed the plan for the organization to open another office in neighboring Owensboro, KY.
Here is the story, which we first reported here:
Nov 16, 2009 (Messenger-Inquirer – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) — The Bowling Green International Center hopes to open its satellite office in Owensboro by Dec. 1.
Though an office hasn’t been selected, Suzanne Rose, a local volunteer, will be meeting with Father Larry Hostetter, Brescia University’s president, next week about potential office space, said James Robinson, executive director of the International Center.
He said the first group of refugees could be settled in Owensboro by Christmas. The refugees will probably come from Myanmar (formerly Burma).
The International Center works with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants to bring refugees to the country.
“They’re very excited for us to get started, and we are too,” Robinson said. “It’s going to be hectic (at) first. (We’ll) start slow and gain momentum.” Refugees are also expected to be relocated to Owensboro from Iraq. Robinson anticipates Owensboro will receive between 75 and 100 refugees in its first year as a satellite site.
The city received federal approval in late October to become a satellite office for the International Center.
What the heck does that mean, “The city received federal approval…?” Is that supposed to mean the federal government blessed the city. Who in the federal government conferred the approval? Did the city government agree? Was there any sort of public discussion?
And in light of the complaints we are hearing in Bowling Green where it appears the refugees aren’t getting enough help, how does the International Center think they can manage a whole new office? In Bowling Green we hear the office is only open two weeks out of the month, could that be?
A combination of International Center staff, interns and volunteers will operate the Owensboro office.
A full-time case manager might be added next year after more refugees have been relocated to Owensboro, Robinson said.
The International Center also plans on bringing its immigration office representatives to Owensboro once a week or once every other week.
Other programs the International Center will offer includes cross-cultural training where refugees can learn about local law enforcement and vice versa, and education on human trafficking.
They need more volunteers (no kidding!):
Volunteers will help the refugees find housing, furniture and jobs. They will also help school-age children get enrolled in schools, and they help refugees get Social Security numbers and immunizations.
“The qualities we look for more than anything (in volunteers): If you say you’re going to do it, do it,” Robinson said. “Commit only to what you can do, and always communicate with us as much as possible.” Robinson was scheduled to meet with local volunteers on Sunday. Volunteers are welcome to mentor refugees, but they also need to make sure the refugees learn to survive in the United States on their own.
The organization has been criticized because its volunteers only take refugees to the grocery a few times before having them go on their own. [That would be fine IF THEY HAD TRANSPORTATION!] The International Center doesn’t want refugees to become dependent on volunteers.
“The goal is to be self-sufficient within 90 days,” Robinson said. [Readers, how many of you would be comfortable and self-sufficient in say China or Thailand in 90 days if you didn’t speak the language?]
The refugees are given a little money to help them get started, but they have to eventually pay back their travel expenses to the government.
Is USCRI supplying labor for Perdue Chicken? USCRI is the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and is one of the top ten federal refugee contractors. The Bowling Green International Center is a subcontractor of USCRI. What sort of arrangement does USCRI have with Perdue?
I had to laugh in searching around on the topic I came across a post I wrote back in February about USCRI bringing refugees to North Carolina to work in a chicken plant there! Here it is! Judy and I have written over 2500 posts in the last few years and we are finding our posts at the top of some google searches, but I guess I better search our own site first in the future!
Brenda Walker writing at VDARE calls this Neo-slavery, here.
In March of this year, I reported on a report from the Center for Immigration Studies about how immigrant labor keeps wages low in the meatpacking industry, here.
A new study out yesterday from the Center for Immigration Studies confirms that immigrant labor keeps wages low in the meatpacking industry.
One other little bit of information I found about the Perdue chicken factory near Owensboro is that it was closed by the USDA in 2007. It doesn’t say why they had been closed, but it must have been for health or safety reasons.
A final note to the critics: Before our critics jump in here and say, well, where do we expect them to work, let me say this: You need to ask yourselves whether this life is better for the refugees than their life in Thailand (in the case of the Burmese chicken plant workers). If you believe it is, then all I want is honesty—that all of you admit the labor supply arrangements, be honest to the city where you are resettling them, to its citizens and to the volunteers and mostly be honest to the refugees and stop pretending it is all about being a humanitarian.