Because I am procrastinating on an assignment for class tonight anyway, I thought I’d respond to a response by one of the anti-refugee resettlement bloggers to my previous post on Iraqi refugees.
Here we go:
Here is what Transitionland said about us today.
A certain anti- refugee resettlement blogger recently wondered if the “refugee lobbyists” had “overplayed their hand” by advocating for more Iraqis to be resettled in the US, given how disappointed some Iraqi refugees are here.
1) Yes, resettlement needs to be overhauled. Everyone who works in resettlement KNOWS THIS.
We agree! If everyone KNOWS THIS, lets get to work. I have all sorts of ideas!
She sure does! They seem to be; no more Muslim refugees, cut resettlement numbers back dramatically, de-fund resettlement agencies, and run resettlement on a “one refugee family, one church/other institution” basis.
2) AGAIN, the disappointment of Iraqi refugees and other refugees from more developed countries is also a problem of unfortunate, Hollywood-fuelled expectations about life in the United States. Refugees from all over are absolutely shocked to find out that not only does poverty exist in America, but they themselves will be living in American poverty, at least for a little while.
I disagree, I don’t believe Hollywood has anything to do with the Iraqi refugees misconception about what their lives would be in the US. Someone in the UN, an overseas processing entity, or representatives of groups who want to bring lots of refugees to the US mislead them. Their stories are uniformly the same and we have written about 17 locations in the US where the story is the same. But, why would anyone be deceptive about something so important?
Their stories are the same because IOM employees don’t or can’t explain how the reality of life for refugees recently resettled in the US differs from the portrayals of American life in our exported popular culture. If any IOM people are reading this, can you give me some insight here?
3) Being poor in Sweden or Germany or the Netherlands is not the same as being poor in America. Being poor in America sucks –but being poor in Syria or Jordan, Pakistan, Nepal, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Turkey, or Thailand is scary-awful. And not all refugees can be resettled in Sweden.
Again, I disagree. I love America and think it’s the greatest place in the world.
Hooray! Here, have a cookie.
I’ve traveled extensively and in no other country can you pull yourself out of poverty easier than in the US.
That’s not true. And poverty here IS measurably worse than in many other developed countries, because our social safety net is so threadbare.
With our freedom and opportunity you can be anything you want to be. Heck, welfare states like Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany are far from having a black man as President.
And Obama’s election has TOTALLY propelled us into a post-racial, post-class, zero-poverty era of gumdrop rainshowers and equality.
And, have you checked out the social unrest in Sweden these days, they are deporting Iraqis (and other immigrants) as we speak.
I agree Transitionland that I wouldn’t want to be poor or anything for that matter in those “scary-awful” countries.
I wrote that BEING POOR in those countries was scary-awful –which it is– not that the countries were scary-awful.
So let’s cut it with the “they’d be better off if they went baaaaack!” crap.
Well, some are going back. Believe it or not, some Iraqi refugees may prefer their culture and their not-always-safe homeland to being on welfare and cared for like children by paternalistic do-gooder refugee agencies.
A handful of Iraqis have gone back, but how they do on their return remains to be seen. My guess is that many will end up refugees in Jordan and Syria again, joining the ranks of the urban poor in those countries, without legal status and harassed by the authorities.
That said, we absolutely should have done a better job here in the US, and need to now. We’ve been especially negligent when it comes to providing for the mental health of Iraqi (and other) refugees. But post-resettlement depression is not caused only by resettlement-related frustration –refugees arrive here after witnessing and being subjected to unimaginably horrible and traumatizing things.
And what is up with “cared for like children by paternalistic do-gooder refugee agencies”? I thought resettlement agencies were full of lazy, greedy fiends, not “paternalistic do-gooders.”
Does. Not. Follow.
And, please answer me this. If America is such a mean, hard-hearted country then why is it so important that you bring refugees here; you can’t have it both ways. In other words, if refugee resettlement advocates said, “We love America and we think its the greatest country on earth and we want to share our freedoms and great bounty with others” I would have more respect for their position. Instead, and this is especially so with the Iraqis, we hear from the refugee lobbyists that America is a bad country, we should feel guilty about Iraq and so therefore we owe Iraqi refugees a life in this rotten, greedy, racist country. That is crap.
We do owe them. Our government launched an invasion of their country, and triggered violence that tore their society apart and ended hundreds of thousands of lives. Iraq is not as bad now as it was two years ago in terms of violence levels, but it is still a very dangerous place (there was another large suicide bombing just today), and will remain very dangerous for some time to come. Sadly, going home again is not a safe option for millions of Iraqi refugees. Thus, it is incumbent on us to offer them refuge and help them become full and happy members of our communities.