Update: Just heard from a reader who informed me that the International Rescue Committee has an office in Decatur, so now I’m not sure which volag to blame!
Here is a blog posting by a young woman working at the Salvation Army in Athens, Georgia. She describes the plight of a Liberian refugee, Sam, who ended up in their shelter.
What are these refugee resettlement federal contractors doing? Why are we hearing stories like this over and over and over again?
From Elisha at the Salvation Army:
I had my first heart-breaking experience this morning at work. “Sam” checked into our men’s shelter on April 9th, the Friday before I began working at The Salvation Army. Sam is one of those people that you just want to go above and beyond to help with anything they need. He was one of the first residents I met and is one of the sweetest, gentlest person I have ever know. Sam is a 21 year old refugee from Liberia that came to America on September 14, 2009. The first couple of weeks of his stay he came to my office almost everyday. For the first few days, he would stand right outside the office and call to see if I was available and if I was then he would walk in to see me. He is a precious human being.
About mid-morning today, Sam showed up at the office to see me. I’ve started only seeing each resident once per week at an appointment time that they sign up for but he said it was an emergency so I told him to come on back to my office. He came in and said he needed to talk to me about going up the Decatur. I began to ask why and his whole story tumbled out. When he first came into the US he was connected to a Refugee Resettlement Program that helped him find a place to stay and a job. The job was at the Pilgrims Pride in Athens. He said that to begin with someone was giving him rides to work everyday but one day the rides stopped. He missed a week of work and when he showed back up he was told he had lost his job. This happened on March 28, 2010. At this point I’m not sure what happened, but somehow he winded up in Athens and stayed. I’m not sure what he did between this day and the day he checked into our shelter.
Anyway, yesterday morning he said he needed to go to Decatur and try to get more help from the Refugee Resettlement .
Read the whole post (although Elisha needs to change the background color on her blog, it’s hard to read). Note too that Sam said he was worried about moving from city to city and suggested he might like to return to Liberia.
Sam is now riding his bike (a child’s bike) from Athens to Decatur, Georgia—65 miles— because he is especially worried about losing the job and thus not being able to pay his airfare loan. Why did the resettlement agency stop finding a ride for him? Indeed, why didn’t the local resettlement office answer the phone? Why was he homeless? He is especially worried about how to make the payments on his airfare loan which is why he thinks he has to get to Decatur immediately. Who put him under pressure to pay the loan when he is jobless and homeless?
There may be other resettlement agencies in Decatur, but here is the only one I found—Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta. It’s an affiliate (that means a subcontractor ) that gets your tax dollars through the contractors Church World Service and Episcopal Migration Ministries.
So, while Church World Service is sanctimoniously blasting the state of Arizona over its new law to control illegal immigrants, they have poor young black legal immigrant they are responsible for peddling a kids bike on the highway alone from Athens to Decatur, Georgia because he is afraid of repercussions involving his airfare loan.
Readers should know that although the airfare is paid by you, the taxpayer, when the loan is repaid, the collection agency, Church World Service(!), gets to keep a quarter of the money they extract from the refugee.
And, they want to lecture people like us about how we need to be more “welcoming” and humane….it makes me sick!
I sure hope Sam made it to Decatur safely.