Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bhutanese refugees worried that they will be slaves in America


We have written on several previous occasions * at RRW about the Bhutanese refugees in United Nations camps in Nepal , some have been there for as long as 17 years. The United States has agreed to take 60,000 of these displaced people. The problem in a nutshell right now is that many camp leaders do not want their people scattered across the face of the globe because they think that if they stay together they will continue to be a political force and then might have some hope of returning to Bhutan.

The BBC reported this week (again) that violence and intimidation are being used against those who do wish to leave for America and points west. This has been going on for months now. What interested me most was this line:

……. a number of rumours are spread - that the flights out are to various extents a trick, with some people believing they will be used as slave labour on arrival in the US.

Of course ’slavery’ in its most commonly understood ugly form is illegal in the United States. We do occasionally hear reports that refugees are used by local volags (voluntary agencies) to do jobs for the volag without pay. Although we suspect that is rare.

More commonly however we hear and read reports of refugees who are shocked at the menial work for long hours that they must do, preferably as soon as 30 days after arrival. Some of you reading this are probably saying, so what, that is what we desire and admire in America—good old fashioned hard work, pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and all of that. I agree.

However, I think the problem comes when displaced people spend a generation in a camp being taken care of by the United Nations and they haven’t a clue what it’s like in America. Like our fellow in Hagerstown from the Congo who just couldn’t grasp that he had to work to keep from being evicted, somehow a number of refugees are arriving here, expecting Shangri-La, without proper preparation overseas for what to expect in the hardworking West.

Reform needed

We need some reform. We need to take less refugees and make sure those we bring are better prepared for life in America before they even get on the plane. They must be thoroughly briefed on our culture. And, then we need for the volags to set aside some of their government funding to pay for refugees airfare back to their home countries and, yes, maybe even back to camps for those unhappy souls who decide they preferred their country or continent to American culture afterall.

* We have a very good search function, so check out our previous posts on this issue by typing in Bhutanese refugees into the search box.

I also previously suggested that refugee resettlement is being used by big companies to find cheap labor. Here is one of the posts I did on that. We’ve heard the same information from Emporia, KS, Shelbyville, TN and now Muscatine, Iowa

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