I’ve been away. Yesterday I attended a conference at Georgetown Law in Washington, DC. It was a 30th anniversary celebration of the Refugee Resettlement Act of 1980 put on jointly by Georgetown Law and Human Rights First. The title of the “celebration” was “Renewing U.S. Commitment to Refugee Protection.” I’ll tell you about it in smaller bites as the week goes on, but the issue raised in this comment we received while I was away was never addressed at the conference except obliquely—overloaded cities, angry Americans. The underlying premise of the entire day was how do we get MORE refugees and asylees into the US and find them “resources” (read money!).
The comment from a reader who wishes to be anonymous is from Winooski, VT. I told you about Winooski in a post in October 2009. It’s a good thing I captured so much of the original news story because it seems to be unavailable now. Please read it here and be sure to follow the link near the end to another “comment worth noting” from another Vermont reader critical of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.
So here is “name withheld” yesterday:
I live in Winooski, which is technically the Burlington Area. I have lived here off and on for 20 years. When I attended high school at Winooski High, back before there was a cafeteria and you ate in the classroom, there were 2 refugees in the entire high school, perhaps 15 in the entire school system.
Today our refugee saturation is at 40%. Because of this our schools have fallen behind academically in the efforts of leaving no child behind to the point that the High School must now either close or fire the principal and half the teaching staff because for the last few years we have failed national levels of comprehension. This isn’t news. Kids who want to go to college have been forced to bus out to neighboring high schools instead of attending our local high school, because the education level has been so poor for the last few years.
My 8 year old son is in 3rd grade and has attended school at JFK Elemntary in Winooski since 1st grade. About a 1/3 of the kids in his class don’t speak or understand english. Because of that he learned addition by counting in dots, lines and squares to represent numbers, which was done because one is not the word for one in other languages.
In 3rd grade he is still being taught single digit addition and subtraction. They haven’t even started cursive handwriting.
I’m 34 years old, but I still remember that in 3rd grade I had all ready learned triple/quadruple addition and subtraction as well as multiplication and division at the same school and with the same teacher my son has now.
What I’m saying is my child is being penalized because the town in which we live has too many refugees settling here. The penalty is his education. Neighboring towns don’t have nearly this much refugee saturation and although I’m all for tolerance and helping our fellow man, it shouldn’t be at this cost.
Here’s what I don’t understand: Why aren’t some of the refugees being settled in Burlington or Colchester or Essex, S. Burlington or Williston? All are on the same busline, all have the same access to programs… I just don’t get it. There is public housing in all of these towns as well.
I’m sure this will be taken the wrong way and that I’ll be construed as some close-minded idiot, but I’m not just saying this about my child. Winooski schools just don’t have the resources to help the incoming refugees learn english at this point either, which hurts them as well.
To “name withheld” thanks for speaking up. You are not alone! This same problem is happening across the US where volags have picked certain “welcoming” cities based it seems on what I have previously called the “squawk factor.” If no one squawks the city is deemed “welcoming” and the refugees continue to be resettled there. Americans and local governments need to understand that they can say NO! NO MORE! You just have to be brave enough to withstand the personal name-calling attacks you and your town will receive from the Open Borders refugee agencies that receive their funding from you, the taxpayer, and want to stay open for business.
Note to Georgetown Law: The refugee program as presently designed is imploding. You know it too! You wrote about it in your Iraqi report. You would do well to heed the refugee voices you heard yesterday and stop talking about issues like detention for asylees and figure out how to head off the implosion of the primary reason for the Refugee Act in the first place—resettlement.