Update January 17th: For unhappy Iraqi refugees, here are links for where you can send complaints and appeals for help.
Two days ago I posted a ‘comment worth noting’ from Houston about how Iraqi refugees are having a tough time in that city with a resettlement agency that had been assigned to help them get settled. I recommend readers visit that post which has generated an informative discussion about how the refugee program works (or doesn’t work) and that it must be reformed.
For first time readers, the gist of the problem we are writing about here and discussing at the Houston post is that the US Refugee Resettlement program is obviously bringing in more refugees than some agencies and cities can manage and refugees are being left high and dry with no jobs and a fear of being evicted, some even without enough food. A few of those refugees have expressed a wish to go back to their home country.
Today we received two comments, obviously from Iraqis who know each other in Sacramento. They are very long comments, but I’m posting them in their entirety below. I have also forwarded them to The List Project, an organization (with lawyers) that advocates for the resettlement to the US of Iraqis who have helped our efforts in Iraq. Maybe they can help these men.
A long time ago I suggested that the State Department establish a “complaints” hotline of some sort, so that refugees having difficulties could bypass their resettlement agency(and its parent volag) and voice their concerns directly to the State Department.
Until there is such a mechanism in place, we will just post refugees’ complaints right here for the world to see. Maybe someone can help them. If they are Iraqis (especially those with Special Immigrant Visas) we will forward to The List Project. We will also find a newspaper in the refugee’s city and send the information to a reporter.
Here is the first one:
To Whom It May Concern;
Happy New Year
I’m Furat AL-Daagh, I came to United States on May 19, 2009 as a Special Immigrant (SIV Visa)
A part of my application to acquire the SIV Visa, I filled the resettlement benefits election form to get the Department of State placement and resettlement program. The Church World Services (CWS) was picked by the Refugee Processing Center (RPC) to be my resettling agency. The CWS and its affiliate agency the Opening Doors Inc. accepted to resettling me in Sacramento, CA
I didn’t have friend or family member (sponsor), so the Opening Doors Inc. supposed to guide me after my arrival to my final destination in Sacramento, CA which is I don’t know how they picked it for me.
My new residency in America wasn’t like what I expected, my expectation for the new home of a refugee came from a war zone to be healthy and safe no more no less.
The affiliate agency (Opening Doors Inc.) enrolled me in ESL school (English as a Second Language) and vocation in same time by the name The Bach Viet Association, and this is non profit and non human organization, the duties for this school is to learn English language and law and rules and the main goal is to Learn about and be referred to employment services and help to increase our opportunity to find a job.
After eight months of my benefits, they didn’t increase my opportunity to find a job, they keep telling me this is a bad time for us, according to the global economy crisis, the job markets is not good as to it is used to be. But why this school keeps finding jobs for the other nationalities other than my nationality? Since the date I first attended that school until lately, no body was getting hired unless he or she has relationships as to be a friend or a relative or boy or girlfriend or even you came from the same country that job placement employee originally came from.
Lately when I started to complain to everybody here and there and specially for the organization that brought me here, the head of the school started to play a tricks with us to keep our mouths shut, such us taking us to a false job interviews and after that letting us sign some papers stated that they spent time with me, training me and getting me over to that interview location. I have a lot of examples:
On December 16, 2009, they took me to an interview after almost SEVEN AND HALF MONTHS of my arrival to Sacramento, CA. A small grocery store needed two new employees (A & K Fresh Produce Inc. – fresh fruits and vegetables store) located in 5800 Madison Ave. Sacramento, CA 95841, which is lies far from my apartment location. During this play in that grocery store, the boss asked me and my colleague some questions concerning job history for each one of us, after that he asked us about how long distance from our accommodation to the store, and about if you have car or not, and which type of driving license do you have, and when he knew, we have no car, we are a hundred percent dependable of the public transportation. He said to us, ok come tomorrow at 6:00 am, and he knew better the first bus will be there at 7:14 am near this store.
In someday of October 2009, one of school staff was called me earlier in the morning, and he asked me about one of the Iranian guy that he speak Russian as another language to his native one Persian, and he is new in our complex, about job interview in one of gas stations in Stockton Blvd, Sacramento, CA, in that time the Iranian guy didn’t receive any of his official documents (Employment Authorization Card, ID etc….), and I told the school employee, I don’t know anything about this guy, maybe he have something to do and he left early, after that he said to me, are you interested to work in gas station? I said yes, he said ok, I will pick you up now to this interview, I went with him and the manager of school Olga to this interview with one of Bhutanese colleague, when we reached to gas station, we found Asian female waiting Olga outside the gas station and she is a non refugee and never attended our school before, we entered to the gas station, and we shake the manager hands, the manager said for us, I will start with interview with Asian female, and for others please wait me outside, and we did, during female interview, the other female school staff came and enter to the gas station, after that the school manager Olga went out and she said for us, I’m so sorry the gas station manager have no time to make interview, and we will do the interview next week on Monday, but this is not real, because the manager of the gas station and according to my information, hire the Asian girl, after that I discovered the Asian girl is relative to female school employee that entered during interview.
The question is why the school manager asked us to come to the interview?
The reply is to make an action that the school looking to find jobs for us and we are not eligible.
Also on November 2009, we went through school to one of employment agency, and we did the test, typing, Word, Excel, and the required scores for typing is 30 wpm, and I got a 31 wpm without mistakes, 80% scores for Word and 83% for Excel, and from this time there are no one called me from this employment agency, although I got a best scores in this test, I know what’s the reason, this is similar to what I claimed above.
After that, I went to Opening Doors Inc., and I met Mr. David Blicker (The Director of Opening Doors Inc.), to discuss with him about my purpose and existence in this city. A city with no future for refugee came overseas and already run out of his cash and food stamps fruitless and what should I do from now on? And why they enrolled me in that school? And why they helping others finding jobs but me?
Mr. Davis Blicker told me and told the other refugees who the Opening Doors Inc. their affiliate agency to play the GAMES the one who want to increase his opportunity to find job should play it.
Is this the words came from an agency director who is its job is to get a refugee resettling in your country and to get him feeling to be safe and none threatened anymore??????????????????????????
For two months the study in this school for advanced class was stopped because the teacher was inherited money, and she took a long-term leave of absence to complete the documents concerning her inheritance.
I applied for more jobs by me even housekeeping, but I failed to find a job, most jobs required a job history and referrals, and I have no history here or referrals.
I know my welfare is discontinued and I have no right to talk with school about find job, but why the International Rescue Committee (IRC) agency help the refugees to find jobs without any kind of cheat and relationships and friendships.
For future, I hope to watch the performance of refugee agencies
In the end, I live now with frustration and I asked my God to pick me up from this impasse.
I know that the economy crisis is effecting everybody lives in the United States and I really appreciate the Department of state cash and food stamps for the past eight months.
And here is the second one:
To Whom It May Concern
My name is Yasir A.T. and I’m Iraqi immigrant came to United States in July 7th, 2009 with the
SIV program as an Iraqi translator who worked for the U.S. Army in Iraq.It is not my choice to come to the states ,it was an urgent matter to leave that place after several threatenning upon my life and my family and after my brother killed by a silent pisstols 4 kilometers from the U.S. Army base he was working for and everything was indicating that I’m going to be the next.
I beleived that I’m going to have the assistant I’ve been promissed by who ever greated this program ,to start a new life in your countrey .That beleife came to me from all the forms and instructions that I downloaded from the U.S.Embassy (Baghdad-Iraq) regarding this program.Truelly this what makes me made my decision to leave my countrey after I spent five years in the U.S. millitary bases and camps , after I lost two members of my family due to the last war and after my life ruined over there .
I did’t have any sponsor,family member or a friend in the United States , the RPC choosed Sacramento -California as my resettling place.
As a part of my application to accuire the SIV Visa ,I submited a form called – refugee resetlement ellection form- to make use of the department of satates resettleing and placement program.The CWS organiztion or the other one here in Sacramento ,CA (The Openning Doors INC) is the one who suppose to help me or guide me after my arrival to this city as coperative agreement of the U.S. Dept of State and the Affiliate agency (The Opening Doors INC) in Sacramento.
I had found this after six months from the date I arrived to my final destination which I don’t know
how or who was decided by :
1.The cash assistant is $320 ,my rent is $575 , the electricity bill is about ($20 to $35)and the landline
phone bill was 47$ a month for the first 3 months.To make the life easier for the Openning Doors INC
,we were lucky to have roomates from the same countrey and we speeking the same language and
of course to make the rent and the bills payable.But even so with a simple math you can see the money
is not enogh and if there is a cash left,it is not enough to buy a toothpast or aliquid cleaner to clean with it or anything the human beings daily needed and canot buy it by the the food stamps.
2.My first and new residency in the States after I arrived is as follows:It is unhealthly as you can see
in the attached picture ,It is not safe so that everyday the police arresting someone in our apartments comlex and with more than one having a house arrest bracelet arround his ankle,all the refugee families
leaving theses apartments after a maximum period of a month.To moving we all needed the apartment
diposite to pay it to who ever lease me an apartment here ,but I can’t have it.It’s the Opening Doors INC decision to give the diposite to some people and not to other ones .How they choose? I don’t know.
3.This program says I’m going to receive a teaching and useful information about America which is cool because when I came here I didn’t know how to mail a letter to someone here or there
.Where I came from we don’t have that kind of services.
Instead the Opennig Doors INC enrolled me in some Engish school for bigginners and most
of it are lessons of haw can you play a stupid game called HangMan,but gues what I’m an English-
Arabic translator and originaly I have a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering science ,ok it’s from Iraq ,but still I can read and write enogh to get hired or apply for a job required the English language
4.Everybody said the maine goal for you to do in the USA is to find a job ….but how ? As the first moment my feet touched the ground in Sacramento Airport till now everybody keep telling me this : there are no jobs , nobody hiring anyone , starts with the one who was waiting for me in the airport and everybody I had met in sacramento especially those who called themselves a job developers.
5.They enrolled me , well it’s the same English school but with other thing too called Job Fair,
or something else,the only thing these guys know is there are no jobs and especially for you cause
we get tired from finding jobs for a specific Iraqis starts attending this school lately ,Iraqis I don’t know them but I don’t know how it comes to be my problem.The only thing in the past five months they taught people was how to buttone their shirts and how to wear a neck tie.They are funny guys cause for the past five months I never noticed a single employee among the school staff wearing a nick tie.
6.There are some issue with the Sacramento ,CA computer systems that stops giving an answer why a refugee like me elligible for health care don’t have a health plan and can’t get to visit a doctor after six months of re submitting the paper work ,the same paperwork the one choosing a health plan and a primary doctor with it for FIVE times in SIX months. I have a health issue that discovered by the refugee health clinic here in Sac ,after a full body examination and vaccination required from everybody new in this city.It starts with a small symptom finally developed to an emergency forced
me to admit an emergency department in the closest hospital to my location and for two times.Till now don’t know how to deal with it or who can help me and this is what makes me write you this letter.
7.I had met the Openning Doors INC director Mr.David Blicker after I couldn’t have the answers to my
questions from his employees or the the Sacramento County DHA ,to complaining to him about what
do I do here and whay his organization accepted to resetle me in this city? Is it true that I have to
buy a car to increase my chance finding a job ? Why they enrolled me in that school(The Bach Viet Association) which is getting paid helping me but they are not unless I’m a Russian or an Asian or a spanish ? Everybody getting hired by that school and they are not even a refugees and not a single Iraqi got hired unless he or she is involving with an intimate relationship with one of that school staff?
Mr. David Blicker told me and advised me to do the following
A.I have to play games with the job placement school (Bach Viet) to increase my chance finding a job.
B.Finding a job in America is all about a relationships and referals .
C.Nobody staying in Sacramento , everybody comes here soon will leave after maybe four months later.
indicating that this city is not the one for me and maybe should I go somewhere else.
D.I can contact the RPC,CWS,IOM,NVC and the Department of Satates to find out what I’m doing here.
Who sent me to such a city with obviously no futre for an Iraqi refugee.
I had tried to find a job and going to an interviews here and there in this city ,and I failed .I don’t know why .I don’t have any job history in the United States .I don’t have any referals .I don’t have a car and I don’t know how drive one.I don’t have money .I’m ignorant in your country.
I know there is the global economy crisis and it is effecting upon everybody here and I really apreciate
the efforts of the State Department and the cash and food stamps beeing giving to us by your government
I know the resetling and placement program says if your friend or family member receiving some benefit
in another state ,that doesn’t mean you’ll get the same where you are .But in Sacramento ,CA we don’t get the necesary help.
I’ll go back to Iraq and takeing my chances there.But please before that I wish if somebody can respond and answer these questions and if you can’t ,please tell me who does ?
Why I didn’t know the full information from your immigration and embassy websites ?
Why there are incompitant employees getting paid from your government or chairty organizations without
Why do someone like me has to play games to get a job ? Are we in a good mode to play games?
Why do the governement of CA gives cash and food stamps for several months to refugees like me with
What the mystery behind my health plan application?
Note to resettlement agency workers: I don’t want to hear any comments about how Iraqis are difficult to work with, you chose the job of resettling refugees! If the program has problems, it’s time for you to stand up to the head honchos at the volags (and the State Department) and say so!
If you think you can help these men, contact me at Ann@vigilantfreedom.com and I will give you their contact information.
One more thing! Anyone with complaints should send them to Eric Schwartz, Asst. Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration at the US State Department. Contact info. is here.