Is coming to America a “tragedy” for refugees?

Yes, for some it is.   And, that is something you rarely hear.  The media spin on the Refugee Resettlement Program of the US State Department is a gushy paternalistic one—oh, how wonderful!  We Americans have opened our hearts to a poor person from another culture who is just dying to be here.  Aren’t we wonderful!  Aren’t they all so grateful.

Not always!

Here is a statement you won’t often hear (posted at the Episcopal Leadership Institute):

“I think that, in general, it is better for a refugee to stay in a camp than to resettle. If you stay in the camp, you have the opportunity to return home. Some people hope that their life will be better if they resettle, and other people hope that the problems in their home country will end.” This is one of the complex and seemingly paradoxical statements I heard today. When we were discussing our tour of RRISA [Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta], my new friend Marco said, “I think that part of growing up is realizing that sometimes you have to choose between one kind of tragedy and another kind of tragedy.

It was a “complex and seemingly paradoxical statement” to this writer because he/she had likely only ever heard the media spin on refugee resettlement.   He/she probably never heard that some refugees on arriving here—want to go home!

I have proposed the following reform for this program—if within say 6 months a refugee wants to return to wherever they were living, the resettlement contractors should be required to pay their airfare HOME! (but not on the taxpayers dime).