Erie, PA: Bosnian boy dies as unlicensed sister takes joy ride in family SUV

Erie has received 4,989 refugees since 2001, Springfield, MA ‘only’ 1,712.  Why aren’t the citizens of Erie squawking?

Since we are on the subject of Bosnians (see previous post on the Des Moines sex abuse case) and since a reader (pungentpeppers) alerted us to the news last week from the “preferred” resettlement city Erie, PA, I’m posting this tragic story as a lead-in to a discussion of the Limon family business of resettling refugees in Erie.   Why Erie?

Here is the sad story from last week (via the UK Daily Mail).  Why is it that some of the most interesting stories don’t make much news in the US, but instead one can pick them up in the UK press?  Let me be clear, this sort of thing can happen to any family, the ethnicity of the family has nothing to do with a kid gone wrong, but it does give us an opportunity to discuss Erie!

Bosnian refugee family’s SUV was driven by unlicensed 15-year-old. AP Photo

Little Emir Zilkic died in a car crash on Tuesday after his 15-year-old sister lost control of the family SUV after taking it without permission.

Eight-year-old Emir was riding with his two older siblings, the unlicensed driver and a 14-year-old girl, near their home in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday night.

The teenage driver had sneaked away with the large 4-by-4 and was taking her younger siblings and two friends to McDonald’s when the car came off the road just four blocks from the family home.

Witnesses said the vehicle was speeding when it started rolling, and then flipped through the air.

At least three of the children were thrown out of the car as it flew through the air, but two were pinned underneath as it landed, Erie County Police said

Emir Zilkic was pronounced dead at the scene just after 9.30pm. The 15-year-old driver, their 14-year-old sister and two other children, a boy aged ten and a girl, 14, were taken to hospital.

The girl behind the wheel suffered a back injury and her sister a broken arm and internal bleeding, their mother Alma Zilkic told GoErie.

‘They say she was speeding, like 80 miles per hour, and lost control. And (Emir’s) gone,’ she told the paper.

The family, who hail from Bosnia, has lived in Erie for 14 years and Mrs Zilkic said the accident has hit them hard.

She added that she does not blame her daughter for the accident, as the Erie police continue the investigation of the scene of the crash.

So, why was Erie targeted as a preferred community for Refugee Resettlement?

Readers may recall Erie made the pages of RRW just ten days ago when neighbors cleaned up the yard of a Somali refugee woman who apparently has no husband (or no husband willing to do yard work), here.

All in the family!

We mentioned in that recent post that a few years back, the International Institute of Erie had some funny money problems and the resettlement agency director was unceremoniously led from the office by Peter Limon (apparently Lavinia’s brother!).  An audit at the time indicated the organization was in deep financial do-do and unlikely to survive.  But, they have survived and are pouring the refugees into Erie to this day.

Go to the staff page, here, and scroll down from Lavinia to Peter.  If you are just arriving here at RRW for the first time, Lavinia is President of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), one of the nine major federal contractors.  The Erie office is a subcontractor.  Lavinia has actively used the revolving door as she moved from contractor to ORR Director for Clinton (handing out your money) and then back to contractor (receiving your money).  USCRI receives 94% of its funding from you, the taxpayer.  You pay her over $200,000 annual salary and benefits too!

According to a comment at Friends of Refugees, here, a former employee of USCRI said they had a saying:

Peter Limon is Lavinia Limon’s brother. It’s a family operation all right. I’m a former employee. As we used to say, “When life gives you Limones, …keep your head down and don’t ask questions…or else…”

By even large city standards, Erie is being swamped with refugees from approximately 33 countries (see below), and what I want to know is where the heck do they work, or do they work at all in a mid-sized US city with no major meat packing company (that I know of!)?   In fiscal year 2013 (to the end of July), Erie had received 471 refugees, in 2012 it was 773, 2011 (783) and in 2010 it was 654.

Note that the population of Erie is a little over 100,000, but the demonstrably overloaded Springfield, MA has a population of 153,000 and it is swamped with around 200 refugees a year.   Indeed Springfield got 1,712 refugees since 2001 while Erie has gotten a whopping 4,989 in the same time period.   If you haven’t done so, go to WRAPS and spend some time going through the data tables on refugees entering the US, here.  This is a particularly good one:  Arrivals by Destination City by Nationality by FY as of July 31, 2013.

Now, I’ve brought you all this way to tell you I have no answers.  I don’t know why Erie was targeted for resettlement (still is) and I don’t know why complaints haven’t reached our desk.  Maybe a reader can give us the answers, until then we must assume that everything is copacetic in “welcoming” Erie!  Or, no one is brave enough to speak up!

For some comparison the top five resettlement cities (since 2001) for Pennsylvania are:

Philadelphia:  6,782

Pittsburgh:  3,283

Erie:  4,989

Lancaster:  2,495

Harrisburg:  1,310

Here is the diversity USCRI has brought to Erie over the years.  Refugees from the following countries:

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Central African Republic
Dem. Rep. Congo
Sierra Leone

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