California: New Refugees Struggling in COVID-Closed America

I’m sure this is happening everywhere, so it is all the more reason to continue the suspension of new refugee arrivals that was supposed to have been lifted this week by the US State Department.

No jobs for newly arrived refugees and no one to give them instructions in person as to where to get signed up for their taxpayer-funded ‘services.’

Protesters against the President in Oakland in 2017. They want more refugees! I sure hope that right now these folks are out helping the existing refugees survive the virus crisis.


From San Francisco Public Press:

Nonprofits Retool to Serve Refugees Struggling During COVID-19 Shutdown

Refugees who arrived in the Bay Area around the time shelter-in-place orders were issued, as well as those who have been her for an extended period, are struggling to stay afloat, organizations who serve them said.

The most recent arrivals are simply trying to establish themselves, whereas others are unaware of services available to them, are being led astray by misinformation on social media or are faced with a rekindling of the trauma they thought they had left behind.

Blythe Raphael of Jewish Family and Community Services.

Given the shutdown of many businesses, new arrivals are less likely to find jobs.***

Without employment, refugees have less access to health insurance and more need for income assistance. Lacking income to buy cars, newly arrived refugees must rely on drastically curtailed bus and rail service to do essential tasks like shop for groceries or get to the hospital. New arrivals without existing community connections can then end up extremely isolated.


….the system of refugee resettlement in the United States is based on rapidly finding employment. “You are looking at a substantial pool of individuals who may not be able to pay for rent and their needs even if they were working,” said Blythe Raphael, who heads the refugee services program at Jewish Family and Community Services East Bay. “Those families we’re watching carefully and trying to find assistance.”  [This organization is a subcontractor of HIAS.—ed]

Multiple organizations that serve refugees have shifted gears, reorganized and launched new services to ensure they can meet this population’s needs during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The stay-at-home order was issued just after several families arrived in the area from Aghanistan, forcing Raphael’s East Bay organization to retool for remote work at the same time it was delivering assistance. “As all services were closing to in-person interviews, we had to really review our model in order for us to make the service connections for all of our new arrivals and for our case managers to be able to serve people with essential course services,” Raphael said.

In other words, it is hard to get new refugees signed up for their various welfare programs and other services when so much is closed.

These groups have had to quickly adjust to the shelter-in-place order, and are themselves vulnerable to the economic fallout, so they need as much public support as they can get, said advocates. “Small organizations are going to suffer a lot from this economic crash that’s going to happen,” said Zand (Leva Zand, development director of the Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants in Oakland).

More here.

***One of those jobs that refugees are hired to do is slaughterhouse work.  And, now comes news that meat plants are having to close due to the number of workers getting sick with COVID-19.  See here.

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