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Re: “Still Seeking Refuge

To Sparkle--I wonder if you've read the article in its entirety; if you had, you might hesitate to refer to the U.S. government as "bending over backwards" for these desperate people. In the case of the Karenni, the U.S. government has let a few hundred people into the country legally. Why? Because they lived in perpetual fear of being killed by the army in their country of origin. When they get here, Karenni refugees are eligible for financial support in the form of ~$345 per person per month for a total of eight months. Together with food stamps (a benefit mostly utilized by non-immigrants, to discourage poor people from starving, as you might already know), that's the only handout they're getting, period. Even the money for their plane tickets from Thailand was paid--by private charitable organizations, incidentally, not with your tax dollars--in the form of loans they need to pay back. In exchange for this very modest assistance, they're given an opportunity to attempt to integrate into U.S. society and get jobs to support themselves, something all the Karenni people I know are working very hard to try to do. April Ni and Bo Reh, both profiled in the article (and friends of mine), are now legally employed. So they're not sponging off of American taxpayers, they ARE American taxpayers (I helped April file his first 1040 last weekend). They work very hard and make less money than you do, assuming you've got a job. Their neighbors are very eager to become American taxpayers too, and I feel confident that they will do so in the coming months.

As for 'what these people expect' when they come to the country, that's a tougher question--they come from a place that is as different from Oakland, or anywhere in a city of any kind, as you can imagine, from an atmosphere where they lived in constant fear and were denied the most basic human rights. In short, I'd say they wanted freedom from that, and they're now struggling to get it.

Posted by Daniel415 on 02/18/2010 at 11:13 AM

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