Jobs in Florida scarce for refugees, so what else is new

This is another of those older stories I’ve had kicking around in my queue hoping to find time to post on it.  It is an article lamenting the lack of jobs for refugees in South Florida.  I bet there are a lot of other South Floridians not working either with a state unemployment rate of 11.2%.

From the Sun Sentinel:

It’s never been easy for South Florida’s new immigrants to get their first job. Last year about 1,200 new refugees entered Broward County, many from Cuba, Haiti and Colombia. Many start off staying with relatives until they have the resources to get their own place.

A year ago, Youth Co-Op, which serves the tri-county area and has about 2,000 clients in Broward and Palm Beach counties, was able to easily place about 85 percent of them in jobs. Many found work in hotels, restaurants and the landscaping industry, among others.

Within the last six months, only about 65 percent of the agency’s clients have landed jobs.

In light of the economy, the state Department of Children & Families, which contracts out social services for refugees, lowered the placement standard agencies must meet from 65 to 60 percent. [Heck that sounds good compared to some places where we hear the employment rate is closer to 20%!]


Most refugees who are single qualify for a monthly cash stipend between $180 and $220 for their first eight months in the country, along with food stamps and other social services. There are no plans to extend the terms of that stipend, a spokeswoman with the office of refugee resettlement in Washington, D.C., has said.

I went to the stats because I wanted to know how many “refugees” were being resettled in Florida for the last few years.   In 2006 Florida took 2582 (1961 were Cuban), in 2007,  2691 (1818 Cuban), and 2008, 3723 (2698 Cuban).   These numbers do not put Florida at the top of the list for states receiving refugees, but I had read somewhere that Florida did get the most “refugees”.  I discovered that the refugee numbers on the normal charts do not tell the whole story.  

One needs to visit for example the 2007 Office of Refugee Resettlement Report to Congress to learn that in addition to the normal refugee numbers we take up to 20,000 Cuban and Haitian “parolees”  (called Havana Parolees) and in 2007 we took 17,294 Cubans.  Now that is for the whole country, but you can bet a large number of those ended up in Florida!

Bottomline, there are all sorts of programs bringing in “refugees” that put the number way above the supposed 80,000 cap for the year!   There are Havana Parlees, asylees from all over the world, and the Temporary Protective Status program, and others too probably!

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