Struggling Youngstown Targeted as Refugee Resettlement Center

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

November 3, 2016

During my recent week-long trip to Canada, one of my biggest takeaways was local citizens’ resistance to the Trudeau government’s commitment to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees. Although the press has published stories that are mostly supportive of Trudeau and his mission, many Canadians are skeptical.

And as details are revealed of what it’s actually like to adopt a Syrian family, as some Canadians have done, doubts about the wisdom of the policy grow deeper. An unusually candid New York Times story told about the challenges that face families who have agreed to adopt, on a short-term basis, Syrian refugees.

In the example cited, a Syrian family of six headed by a shepherd and his illiterate wife exhibited extreme difficulty in adjusting, and were bombarded by requests from their relatives abroad to bring them to Canada. The mother has shown no interest in learning English, even though that skill would help her and her children assimilate, and enjoy a more complete, satisfying life in Canada.

Despite Youngstown’s 50 percent poverty concentration rate,
the city is receiving waves of refugees.




 

Meanwhile, back in the United States, impoverished, beleaguered Youngstown, Ohio, is the latest city targeted as a new home for refugees. Given that in Youngstown 31 percent of households earn less than $15,000 annually, no one can argue that Americans don’t need the same generosity that Cleveland Migration and Refugee Services offers refugees. Remember too that President Obama continues to place refugees far away from the White House and miles from where D.C. elite live.

Obama has accelerated refugee resettlement nationwide. In each of the first five days of fiscal year 2017 which began on October 1, 2016, 411 refugees were resettled in the U.S. If that pace is sustained, the U.S would accept more than 150,000 refugees in FY 2017, almost double the FY 2016 total of 84,995 and more than 40,000 greater than the 110,000 limit Obama promised.

Refugee resettlement will be hotly contested during 2017. Through the CAPS Action Alert page, urge your representative to support HR 4731. This legislation would limit refugees to 60,000, and require congressional action to increase the cap. While a House floor vote is unlikely with only days until the presidential election, HR 4731 should be a template for the next Congress.

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