WBEZ | refugees http://www.wbez.org/tags/refugees Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Refugees raise vegetables, put down roots at urban garden http://www.wbez.org/news/refugees-raise-vegetables-put-down-roots-urban-garden-110149 <p><p>On a recent afternoon in Chicago&rsquo;s Albany Park neighborhood, Linda Seyler chirped at a small crew of helpers from Nepal: &ldquo;Stay there,&rdquo; she said to a group ranging from small boys to grown men. Seyler pulled out a measuring tape as she knelt in a tarp-covered ditch. &ldquo;From here to here is two feet&hellip;&rdquo;</p><p>Seyler was helping two more refugee families measure out their new vegetable plots at the Global Garden Refugee Training Farm, located on busy Lawrence Avenue. It was a cool Sunday, but several families were there, eager to start preparing their long, skinny garden beds for spring planting.</p><p>Janet Saidi, a Congolese refugee who came to Chicago more than a year ago stood next to her family&rsquo;s plot, number 95, rattling off what she&rsquo;s grown. &ldquo;Onion, okra, beans,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;The name of this one I don&rsquo;t know. It&rsquo;s like mushroom? Yes.&rdquo;</p><p>Saidi and the other refugees who garden here all farmed in their native countries. Most hail from conflict-ridden places like Bhutan and Burma, and often don&rsquo;t know any English when they arrive. With the language barriers and the sense that their farming skills have no use in a big, American city, many battle feelings of isolation as they try to settle in.</p><p>&ldquo;Being here (in the city) they feel themselves really worthless,&rdquo; said Hasta Bhattarai, a Bhutanese refugee who now volunteers as an an interpreter for some of the gardeners. &ldquo;But once they are here (in the garden) and once they are able to produce something, that really makes them happy from inside,&rdquo; he continued, &ldquo;and they feel themselves (like) they are back home, and that gives them some kind of spiritual happiness.&ldquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Refugee-Garden-2.jpg" title="Janet Saidi, a refugee from the Congo, grows okra, onions and beans on her small plot. She said she never imagined she would grow her family’s food in the U.S., as she did in her native country. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><p>The garden began with a grant from the Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program, under the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. Seyler, at the time working for the Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly in Chicago, applied for the three-year, nonrenewable grant. In its first year, the garden had 42 families with plots.</p><p>Now in its third growing season, the garden has more than 100 vegetable beds jammed haphazardly against each other, with additional areas reserved for new commercial plots and a quarter-acre reserved for use by the Peterson Garden Project. In all, the refugees use about one acre of the 1.33 acre area. They grow bittermelon, bok choy, okra, mustard greens, and roselles -- a plant related to hibiscus. It&rsquo;s a cheap and convenient way to find the vegetables that they traditionally use for cooking, which may be less common in U.S. supermarkets.</p><p>&ldquo;This garden, it&rsquo;s really changed my life,&rdquo; said Mary Thehtoe, a Burmese refugee whose family had a large farm in her native country. Thehtoe got a plot at the garden when it began, during her first year in the U.S., in 2012.&nbsp; She said at that time she knew no English, and cried every night after she came to the U.S., until she met her refugee case worker. That was the first person she met in Chicago who spoke her language.</p><p>&ldquo;If I don&rsquo;t have garden, I always go to the appointments,&rdquo; Thehtoe said through an interpreter. &ldquo;I have a lot of appointments, like medical appointments, And I stay working at home, and just do house chores, take care of my kids, those kinds of thing. When I got the garden, all the sickness and stress, depression, go away, Because I always think about the garden.&rdquo;</p><p>Thehtoe said she comes to the garden every day.</p><p>Saidi said she never imagined that in the U.S. she would be growing her own food, as she did in the Congo. &ldquo;When I came here, I said, &lsquo;Oh my God, I don&rsquo;t know (if in) America, if they have fresh food,&rsquo;&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Yes, they are also farming, and I said &lsquo;Oh my God,&rsquo; it was exciting.&rdquo;</p><p>The garden&rsquo;s success has earned attention from the Governor&rsquo;s office, which wants to replicate it in places like Rockford, Elgin and Aurora. Meanwhile, the grant that started the garden has run out. Its organizers are planning to make the garden self-sustaining with commercial production and an expansion of the farm&rsquo;s community supported agriculture program, which allows individuals to buy &ldquo;shares&rdquo; in the garden&rsquo;s seasonal produce.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Foyousef&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHKQ6bayggMubwgs9U53FsOML-b9A">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2FWBEZoutloud&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGciFiqidUKx7xm655BDbaPU9eB3g">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p><p><em>Correction: This article incorrectly referred to the Peterson Garden Project. It has been corrected.</em></p></p> Wed, 07 May 2014 15:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/refugees-raise-vegetables-put-down-roots-urban-garden-110149 Global Activism: GirlForward continues to uplift refugee girls http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-girlforward-continues-uplift-refugee-girls-110288 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ga brett.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Blair Brettschneider, founder of <a href="http://www.girlforward.org/">GirlForward</a>, has been quite busy since first being featured on our Global Activism series. She&rsquo;s expanded her work helping refugee girls find new lives in America from just one girl from Tanzania, to scores around the world. She was also featured as a &ldquo;<a href="http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/2013.heroes/blair.brettschneider.html">CNN Hero</a>.&quot;<iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/138260504&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;visual=true" width="100%"></iframe><em>Blair will update us on all of the changes in her work and life and talk about GirlForward&rsquo;s upcoming event: &ldquo;Girl Jam 2014&rdquo;, Tuesday March 11, 7pm at Revolution Brewing, 2323 N. Milwaukee, Chicago</em></p></p> Thu, 06 Mar 2014 09:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-girlforward-continues-uplift-refugee-girls-110288 India's economy and Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-09-12/indias-economy-and-syrian-refugees-jordan-and-lebanon-108664 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP313679455788.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On Thursday&#39;s edition of Worldview, we assess the state of India&#39;s economy with Sumit Ganguly. Ray Offenheiser of Oxfam America tells us about conditions of Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F110081800&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/income-inequality-india-s-economy-and-syrian-refug/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/income-inequality-india-s-economy-and-syrian-refug.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/income-inequality-india-s-economy-and-syrian-refug" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: India's economy and Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon " on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 12 Sep 2013 12:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-09-12/indias-economy-and-syrian-refugees-jordan-and-lebanon-108664 By the numbers: Refugees in Illinois http://www.wbez.org/news/numbers-refugees-illinois-105106 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS6973_AP995610264386 (3)-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A listener&rsquo;s question prompted our <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-who-settles-refugees-chicagos-north-side-104781">recent examination of refugee resettlement patterns in Chicago</a>. That inquiry looked at how, and why, refugees have come to occupy apartments mostly in far North Side neighborhoods. It also got us wondering: Who were these refugees, anyhow?</p><p>Well, we can&rsquo;t answer that exact question because nobody keeps precise records of how many refugees live within Chicago&rsquo;s city limits. But we found that there are good data at the statewide level. Once we tumbled down that rabbit hole, we learned a lot &mdash;&nbsp;not just about Illinois&rsquo;s shifting refugee population, but also about recent world history and shifts in American foreign policy.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s the data in chart form. It&rsquo;s a moving timeline that shows how many refugees arrived in Illinois each year since 1980. For each year, the refugees are sorted by country of origin:</p><p><strong>Refugee arrivals in Illinois by country of origin (FFY1980-FFY2012)</strong><br /><a href="#Notes"><em>Notes on the data</em></a></p><p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> { "dataSourceUrl": "//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0Ai7E2pZ6aCZtdGxjMGpvaVpOeVZScm9uajdTSHZVQ1E&transpose=0&headers=1&range=A1%3AD2839&gid=0&pub=1", "options": { "titleTextStyle": { "fontSize": 16 }, "showChartButtons": false, "showXMetricPicker": false, "showYMetricPicker": false, "showXScalePicker": false, "showYScalePicker": false, "showAdvancedPanel": false, "title": "Refugee arrivals in Illinois by Country of Origin (FFY1980-FFY2012)", "state": '{ "time": "1980", "yLambda": 0, "xZoomedIn": false, "nonSelectedAlpha": 0.4, "xZoomedDataMin": 0, "yZoomedIn": false, "orderedByY": false, "playDuration": 40000, "orderedByX": true, "sizeOption": "_UNISIZE", "xLambda": 1, "colorOption": "3", "duration": { "timeUnit": "Y", "multiplier": 1 }, "yZoomedDataMax": 5000, "dimensions": { "iconDimensions": [ "dim0" ] }, "iconType": "VBAR", "yAxisOption": "2", "uniColorForNonSelected": false, "yZoomedDataMin": 0, "xAxisOption": "2", "xZoomedDataMax": 86, "showTrails": false, "iconKeySettings": [] }' , "vAxes": [ { "useFormatFromData": true, "title": "Left vertical axis title", "minValue": null, "viewWindow": { "min": null, "max": null }, "maxValue": null }, { "useFormatFromData": true, "minValue": null, "viewWindow": { "min": null, "max": null }, "maxValue": null } ], "booleanRole": "certainty", "hAxis": { "useFormatFromData": true, "title": "Horizontal axis title", "minValue": null, "viewWindow": { "min": null, "max": null }, "maxValue": null }, "width": 620, "height": 343, "animation": { "duration": 0 } }, "view": { "columns": [ 0, 1, 2, { "label": "Region", "properties": { "role": "annotation" }, "sourceColumn": 3 } ] }, "chartType": "MotionChart", "chartName": "Chart 3" } </script></p><p><strong>Early resettlement history</strong></p><p>The data on the bar chart start at 1980, when Congress passed <a href="http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/the-refugee-act">The Refugee Act</a>, the legislation that formalized the US resettlement program. But that&rsquo;s not to say refugees did not arrive earlier. &ldquo;The refugee program came into public consciousness in a big way because of the drama of the fall of Saigon and the effort to rescue a lot of people who had helped us in Vietnam,&rdquo; said David Martin, a law professor at the University of Virginia. &ldquo;But it did build on much smaller programs that had been around before that.&rdquo;</p><p>In particular, the US had been admitting refugees from Eastern Europe after World War II. &ldquo;They came through Western Europe,&rdquo; explained Martin. &ldquo;They were processed by voluntary agencies in a cooperative relationship with the US government to do some screening and bring them to this country.&rdquo; Among them were Hungarians, Czechs, and Poles, and large numbers of Jews from Eastern European countries. American non-governmental organizations that claimed ties to those nations, or to the refugees&rsquo; religions, took the lead in bringing them to the US and resettling them. The federal government played a small role.</p><p>Martin said the fall of Saigon in 1975 challenged the US government to assume a larger role in the refugee resettlement process. The sheer number of refugees from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia dwarfed the inflows from earlier years, demanding a more orderly intake system. And refugees from these nations could not tap into existing communities of co-religionists or compatriots, as could their Eastern European predecessors.</p><p>Today the US State Department works with the Executive Office to determine how many refugees will be allowed in each year, and from which regions of the world. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services manage the intake and placement processes. Non-governmental agencies, known as &ldquo;voluntary agencies,&rdquo; perform the on-the-ground work of finding apartments for new arrivals and providing them other assistance needed for a fresh start.</p><p><strong>The Cold War and refugee patterns</strong></p><p>As you scroll through the chart, you&rsquo;ll notice a few striking things in the years before 2000. First, the number of refugees that Illinois resettled in the early 1980s was markedly higher than any time since, yet the they arrived from very few countries. The primary primary points of origin at that time were Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the USSR and Cuba. See a pattern there?</p><p>&ldquo;One way of viewing the refugee program, particularly since 1955, is that the program was influenced by the Cold War,&rdquo; said Dr. Edwin Silverman, Chief of the Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Services at the Illinois Department of Human Services. &ldquo;Refugee resettlement was mainly focused on those refugees fleeing communism or communist regimes.&rdquo;</p><p>Check out what happens in the chart in 1989, where you can watch the number of refugees from the former USSR suddenly jump &mdash; from 731 to nearly 3,000. The number remains high even after the 1991 dissolution of the USSR, and the trend doesn&rsquo;t stop until 1996, when the refugee count from the former USSR plummets abruptly to four. The change is largely an accounting artifact: There was a lag between when the USSR broke up, and when the refugee processing records reflected that. The lag appears to have ended in 1996, when the former USSR number drops, and a slew of new countries suddenly appear in the chart. Many of those are the post-Soviet states, registering their own numbers for the first time.</p><p>Another notable change happened in 1996, when Illinois started receiving refugees from many more African countries. The reason? The US had tapped out the pool of refugees coming from the Cold War countries. &ldquo;We had been processing those populations for 15-20 years,&rdquo; said Kelly Gauger, Deputy Director of the Refugee Admissions Office in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration at the U.S. State Department. Finally, there was room in the program for refugees from other nations. &ldquo;We started to work more closely with the UN High Commission for Refugees, and they started referring more African cases to us for our consideration,&rdquo; said Gauger.</p><p>Another significant development in the 1990s was the increased flow of refugees from the conflict that embroiled Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Between 1996 and 2001, this was the largest group to come to Illinois.</p><p><strong>The 9/11 lockout, then a new norm</strong></p><p>Perhaps you noticed the major dropoff in 2002 and 2003. Those are the only years since the Refugee Resettlement Act that Illinois admitted fewer than 1000 refugees. This is no anomaly, as the same dip occurred across the country.</p><p>&ldquo;There were significantly increased requirements for refugee security checks in the wake of September 11th,&rdquo; said Gauger. &ldquo;So those two years reflected the difficulty in pushing tens of thousands of new security checks through the system.&rdquo; The dropoff had significant financial impact on local resettlement agencies because they receive federal funding on a per-refugee basis. But those difficulties were somewhat resolved by 2004, Gauger said, when the refugee resettlement process worked through kinks in the new security procedures.</p><p><script type="text/javascript" src="//ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/static/modules/gviz/1.0/chart.js"> {"dataSourceUrl":"//docs.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/spreadsheet/tq?key=0AhjQLu6fCgMwdDVFamUxbUJGOWlQTURYeXJJU0I0dWc&transpose=0&headers=1&range=A1%3AAH2&gid=0&pub=1","options":{"vAxes":[{"useFormatFromData":true,"title":null,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null},{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindow":{"min":null,"max":null},"maxValue":null}],"titleTextStyle":{"bold":true,"color":"#000","fontSize":"12"},"booleanRole":"certainty","title":"Refugee arrivals to Illinois by Federal Fiscal Year (1980 - 2012)","animation":{"duration":500},"legend":"right","hAxis":{"useFormatFromData":true,"minValue":null,"viewWindowMode":null,"viewWindow":null,"maxValue":null},"isStacked":false,"tooltip":{},"width":620,"height":343},"state":{},"view":{},"chartType":"ColumnChart","chartName":"Chart 1"} </script></p><p>More recently, Illinois has hovered around 2,000 refugees per year, a figure lower than those of the early &lsquo;80s, but it&rsquo;s still greater than the lull of 2003. This, too, mirrors a recovery and stabilization at the national level during this decade. But the picture of the refugee program is significantly different from its early years.</p><p>&ldquo;The program has just become less political and more humanitarian in nature over the last ten to fifteen years&rdquo; said Gauger, alluding to the time when refugee status was mainly designated for those fleeing communist regimes. Today, most refugees are referred by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, which deemed them to have a legitimate fear of persecution in their home country.</p><p>This has meant that in recent years, Illinois and other states have been resettling refugees from a greater diversity of countries. Many local resettlement agencies have struggled to develop the language competency required to assist such distinct groups. This year, the largest number of refugees to Illinois will be coming from Iraq, Burma, and Bhutan.</p><p><strong><a name="Notes"></a>Notes on our data</strong></p><p>The data come from the <a href="http://www.wrapsnet.org/">Refugee Processing Center</a>, a division of the U.S. State Department. Each year represented is the federal fiscal year, meaning October 1 through September 30. This is particularly notable when you consider the aforementioned dip in refugees in 2002; That federal fiscal year began just days after the September 11 attacks.</p><p>The refugee numbers from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in 1981 and 1982 are estimates. While the original data record total refugees to Illinois from East Asia in those years, they are not broken down by country. These estimates are based on the proportion that each of those countries represented in the total East Asian intake to the U.S. during those years.</p><p>Another interesting artifact of the data: You will find, among the listed countries, &ldquo;Amerasian.&rdquo; According to Martin, &ldquo;Amerasian&rdquo; was a designation mainly applied to children of mixed heritage after the Vietnam War. &ldquo;With a large presence of US troops there, there were a number of children who were born to basically the Vietnamese women, fathered by U.S. citizens,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;Because of their parentage, they were sufficiently different in appearance that they suffered a lot of discrimination, many of them did.&rdquo;</p></p> Wed, 23 Jan 2013 14:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/numbers-refugees-illinois-105106 The process of resettling refugees in the U.S. http://www.wbez.org/worldview/2012-04-24/segment/process-resettling-refugees-us-98505 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP120222117323.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees estimates that 750,000 refugees around the world are currently in need of resettling.&nbsp; The majority will end up in the U.S., which resettles more refugees than any other country in the world. <em>Worldview </em>discusses the resettlement process with <a href="http://www.refugeeone.org/2012/01/gregory-wangerin-executive-director-and-ex-officio-board-director/" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">Greg Wangerin</a>, executive director of Chicago-based <a href="http://www.refugeeone.org/" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">RefugeeOne</a> and Ambassador David Robinson, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of <a href="http://www.state.gov/j/prm/" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">State in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration</a>. They shed light on how refugees get here and their difficult transition.</p></p> Tue, 24 Apr 2012 15:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/worldview/2012-04-24/segment/process-resettling-refugees-us-98505 Worldview 4.24.12 http://www.wbez.org/worldview/2012-04-24/worldview-42412-98499 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP120417017122.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Economic uncertainty continues to grow in Europe. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte resigned after his coalition government failed to agree on new austerity measures. France sent a message to policymakers last weekend when Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, who's promised to delay balancing the budget, received the most votes in round one of the presidential elections. <em>Worldview</em> talks about possible remedies for Europe’s ailing economy with <a href="http://www.ft.com/intl/comment/columnists/martin-wolf" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">Martin Wolf</a>, chief economics commentator of the <em>Financial Times.</em> Also, according to the <a href="http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">UN High Commissioner on Refugees</a>, of the 15 million refugees around the world, about 750,000 need resettling, with most ending up in the U.S. <em>Worldview</em> discusses the resettlement process with <a href="http://www.worldaffairs.org/speakers/profile/david-robinson.html" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">David Robinson</a>, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the <a href="http://www.state.gov/j/prm/" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration</a>, and <a href="http://www.refugeeone.org/2012/01/gregory-wangerin-executive-director-and-ex-officio-board-director/" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">Greg Wangerin</a>, executive director of Chicago’s <a href="http://www.refugeeone.org/" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">RefugeeOne.</a></p></p> Tue, 24 Apr 2012 14:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/worldview/2012-04-24/worldview-42412-98499 Rustbelt city wants immigrants, skilled or not http://www.wbez.org/content/rustbelt-city-wants-immigrants-skilled-or-not-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-30/2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/3.JPG" style="width: 605px; height: 404px;" title="Deserted houses like this one mar Dayton’s East End. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)"></p><p style="text-align: left;">Lifelong Dayton resident Monica Schultz, 36, brings me to the East End block where she grew up. “This whole street was full of families,” she says. “Kids were running around playing, all within my age range.”</p><p style="text-align: left;">Now no kids are in sight.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Schultz points to a half dozen abandoned houses, including one right next door to her family’s place. She says the city has boarded it up a few times but stray cats keep finding their way in.</p><p style="text-align: left;">“We had a flea infestation problem,” she tells me. “People walking by could see the fleas or feel the fleas or get the fleas. All of the yards in the neighborhood here were becoming infested with fleas.”</p><p style="text-align: left;">Schultz says the city can’t keep up with houses like this. “It’s one of many that need to be bulldozed,” she says. “But it’s on a list.”</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted rgb(170, 33, 29); margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; }ul { margin-left: 15px; }li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-28/great-lakes-workers-faring-better-canadian-side-border-94389">Workers faring better in Canada</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/using-sound-find-leaks-and-save-dollars-94303">Using sound to find leaks and save dollars</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/gas-drilling-could-take-air-out-offshore-wind-93875">Gas drilling could take air out of offshore wind</a></strong></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>Dayton’s population has been shrinking since the 1960s. Most of the area’s factory jobs are long gone. To save the city, Schultz has embraced a new idea: Help immigrants and refugees lay roots in Dayton.</p><p>Schultz, who owns a small marketing firm, helped lead community meetings that generated a 72-point plan called “Welcome Dayton.” City commissioners approved the plan this fall. The points range from better immigrant access to social services, to more translations of court materials, to grants for immigrants to open shops in a dilapidated commercial corridor, to a soccer event that supporters envision as a local World Cup tournament.</p><p>Schultz tells me the plan could revive a Dayton entrepreneurial spirit that sparked inventions ranging from the cash register to the airplane. “You would have small businesses,” she says. “You would have coffee shops and you would have bakeries and you would have specialty grocery stores.”</p><p>Dayton is among several rustbelt cities suffering from population loss and brain drain. To create businesses and jobs, some communities are trying to attract immigrants, especially highly educated ones. Dayton stands out for the attention its plan pays to immigrants without wealth or skills.</p><p>The plan even addresses people without permission to be in the country. One provision calls for police officers to quit asking suspects about their immigration status unless the crime was “serious.” Another point could lead to a city identification card that would help residents do everything from open a bank account to buy a cell phone.</p><p>City Manager Tim Riordan, Dayton’s chief executive, says welcoming all types of immigrants will make the area more cosmopolitan. “I think there would be a vibrancy,” he says. “We’d start to have some international investment of companies deciding they ought to locate here.”</p><p>Foreign-born residents so far amount to 3 percent of the city’s 142,000 residents. For a mid-sized U.S. city these days, that’s not many.</p><p>But Dayton’s immigrants and refugees are increasing their numbers and, Riordan says, they’re already making a difference. He points to a neighborhood north of downtown where some Ahiska Turks have settled. “They were refugees in Russia," he says. "Here they’ve bought houses. They’ve fixed them up. And, sometimes when I talk to hardware store owners, people will come in and they’ll buy a window at a time. ‘I’ve got enough money to put in another window.’ It’s slow-but-sure change.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/2.JPG" style="margin: 4px 18px 2px 1px; float: left; width: 275px; height: 280px;" title="A Dayton pizza parlor run by Ahiska Turks adds life to a decaying neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)"></p><p>Not everyone in Dayton is on board with the plan.</p><p>In a corner tavern on the East End, a 62-year-old bartender serves the only customer what she calls his last can of beer for the night. It’s a Friday, just 11 p.m., but she’s closing. “The owner can’t pay me to stay any longer,” she tells me, speaking on condition I don’t name her or the bar.</p><p>The bartender says the tavern could be on its last legs and tells me what happened to three other East End bars where she worked. They all shut down. She says that’s because many of the neighborhood’s Appalachian families, who arrived for manufacturing jobs after World War II, have moved away.</p><p>“NCR closed down, Dayton Tire and Rubber closed down, GM and Delphi and Frigidaire,” she says, pausing only when her customer slams down the beer and bellows something about a “last paycheck.”</p><p>The bartender tells me she doesn’t like how Riordan and other Dayton officials are handling the exodus of families who’ve been paying local taxes for generations. “Why won’t he try to keep those kinds of people here?” she asks. “He wants to welcome the immigrants to come in here. What can&nbsp;they&nbsp;do? Where are they going to get the money to fix up anything? What jobs are they going to get to maintain what they fix up here? There are no jobs here. None.”</p><p>It’s not just locals like the bartender who have doubts about “Welcome Dayton.”</p><p>Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington group that pushes for strict immigration controls, acknowledges that attracting immigrants would increase the size of Dayton’s economy. “But that’s different than arguing that there’s a benefit,” he says. “Growing an area’s gross domestic product, but not the <em>per capita</em> GDP, doesn’t mean anything. It wouldn’t be very helpful. In fact, there might be problems with that.”</p><p>Camarota says the low-skilled immigrants would put downward pressure on wages for workers on Dayton’s bottom rungs.</p><p>But Italian-born economist Giovanni Peri of the University of California, Davis, says low-skilled immigrants would bring what Dayton seeks—and more: “One, they will increase the variety of local restaurants, local shops. Second, they will provide a variety of local services, such as household services, care of the children, of the elderly. Third, they will also develop and bring an atmosphere of diversity and higher tolerance.” Peri says these low-skilled contributions would all help Dayton attract immigrants with more resources.</p><p>The willingness of many immigrants to perform manual labor for low pay, Peri adds, could create jobs for longtime residents. He points to landscaping companies: “They will need people who mow the lawn but also they will need accountants, salespersons, a manager and drivers.”</p><p>Dayton’s approach—welcoming immigrants with and without skills—is the “optimal strategy,” Peri says.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-01/4.JPG" style="margin: 4px 18px 2px 1px; float: left; width: 275px; height: 219px;" title="A Dayton church translates sermons to Spanish through headphones. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)">Whether a city’s immigrant-integration plan can actually attract many people is another question. About an hour east of Dayton, the city of Columbus launched an immigrant-friendly initiative in 2002 and saw its foreign-born population grow fast. But that city’s economy is much more robust than Dayton’s. It had already been attracting immigrants for years.</p><p>The results of “Welcome Dayton” could depend on how it works for city residents like a 25-year-old mother whom I’ll call Ana López. (She&nbsp;doesn’t have papers to be in the country so I agreed not to use her real name.) López says she came from the Mexican state of Puebla as a teenager at the urging of a friend who had arrived in Dayton earlier.</p><p>López says her first job was in a restaurant with a big buffet. “We didn’t come to take work away from anyone,” she tells me in Spanish. “Rather, there are jobs nobody else wants.”</p><p>Now López and her husband have three kids, all U.S. citizens. The family has managed to buy a house. And it’s found a congregation, College Hill Community Church, that provides simultaneous Spanish interpretation through headphones.</p><p>But Dayton hasn’t always been hospitable. López says police officers caught her brother-in-law driving without a license and turned him over to federal officials, who deported him.</p><p>Looking at the “Welcome Dayton” plan, López says providing the ID cards and removing the police from immigration enforcement could make a difference for families like hers. “These families would tell their friends and relatives to move to Dayton,” she says.</p><p>That’s exactly what city leaders want to hear.</p></p> Thu, 01 Dec 2011 11:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/rustbelt-city-wants-immigrants-skilled-or-not-0 Iraqi refugee flees death threats and builds life in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-26/iraqi-refugee-flees-death-threats-and-builds-life-chicago-91104 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-26/iraqi4.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483667-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/wv20110826d.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>Chicagoan Yaghdan Hameid was the original inspiration behind Kirk Johnson's <a href="http://thelistproject.org/withdrawal/" target="_blank">The List Project</a>. After working as a program officer with <a href="http://www.usaid.gov/" target="_blank">USAID</a> in Baghdad, Yaghdan realized his partnership with the U.S. government was putting his family's life in danger. After an alarming death threat, he and his wife relocated to Chicago’s Western suburbs. Now they have a young child and are starting to build a new life. Yaghdan shares his story.</p></p> Fri, 26 Aug 2011 16:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-26/iraqi-refugee-flees-death-threats-and-builds-life-chicago-91104 The List Project helps thousands in Iraq who risked their lives aiding the U.S. http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-26/list-project-helps-thousands-iraq-who-risked-their-lives-aiding-us-91102 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-26/iraq2a.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483667-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/wv20110826b.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><hr><p>Several years ago, west suburban native Kirk Johnson, a former USAID official in Baghdad and Fallujah, received a call for help from a former colleague.&nbsp;</p><p>Johnson’s colleague, Yaghdan Hameid, worked with him at USAID in 2005 and was receiving death threats in Iraq. His life in danger, Hameid tried desperately to leave the country for the U.S, but he couldn't get anywhere. &nbsp;The complicated and convoluted process of earning refugee status in the U.S. was too slow and unresponsive. &nbsp;</p><p>So Johnson stepped in.</p><p>In December 2006, Johnson penned an op-ed in the <a href="http://www.thelistproject.org/coverage-lat_oped.html" target="_blank"><em>Los Angeles Times</em></a>&nbsp;that garnered the attention of his former colleagues and other U.S. government employees in the Middle East. They recognized Hameid’s struggle through their own work with Iraqi civilians and reached out to Johnson for help. &nbsp;</p><p>“They all started sending me their info,” Johnson said.</p><p>Soon thereafter, the List Project was born.</p><p>Today, The List Project bills itself as the home of "the largest list of Iraqis who are imperiled because they helped America." &nbsp;The non-profit's purpose is to aid in the resettling of Iraqis whose lives are endangered as a result of their aid and service to the U.S. - through the military, private contractors, the State Department, NGO's or media outlets.&nbsp;</p><p>“We’re getting new applicants to the list every hour at this point - more than we can handle," Johnson told Jerome McDonnell during an interview on WBEZ's <em>Worldview</em>.</p><p>In response to the growing number of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan whose lives were in danger because of their work with Americans, the U.S. government instituted the Special Immigrant Visa program in 2008. It supposedly allows 5,000 Iraqi refugees who worked with U.S. forces and contractors to resettle in the U.S. each year.</p><p>“That program -- as excited as we were when it was established -- has been an utter failure,” Johnson said. He said that only a small percentage of Iraqis who meet the program’s requirements have been allowed to settle in the United States. If implemented to its fullest, Johnson said, the Special Immigrant Visa program could clear his list of almost 3,000 Iraqis and still have placement spots available.</p><p>For many, the process is extremely frustrating. In addition to letters of recommendation, each candidate must have a professional email for the Americans with whom they worked.</p><p>“It’s absurdity for anyone who wades into this mess,” Johnson said. If they don’t have the correct email from a job from five or six years ago, they won’t qualify, he added. “All of these people have ID badges and have undergone polygraph tests. These are the most well-documented refugees in the history of refugees.”</p><p>Much of the hold-up for these refugees is due to security concerns. Earlier this year, two Iraqi refugees were arrested in Kentucky on charges they planned to send weapons to insurgents in Iraq. The safety concern, Johnson said, could be alleviated if the government relocates refugees to somewhere like Guam before clearing them to enter the country. This idea is nothing new. After the first Gulf War, some 6,000 Iraqi Kurds were brought to Guam.</p><p>It’s a matter of the Obama administration making refugee protection a priority, said Johnson.</p><p>“Do you think people were happy about bringing over Vietnamese refugees after that war?” Johnson asked. “But we did it, because our president said we have to do this.”</p><p>As the U.S. prepares to drastically reduce its troop presence in Iraq by the end of the year, time is of the essence. As Johnson explained, you don’t need a vivid imagination to imagine what will happen to those who worked with the U.S. when the troops leave.</p><p>“We finally have a window of time to prevent a massacre from happening,” he said. But, he added, “We have zero contingency plans to protect these Iraqis.”&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 26 Aug 2011 16:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-26/list-project-helps-thousands-iraq-who-risked-their-lives-aiding-us-91102 Immigrant entrepreneurs: New Chicago office should cut red tape http://www.wbez.org/story/immigrant-entrepreneurs-new-chicago-office-should-cut-red-tape-90722 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-17/forweb.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago has a reputation of being a tough place for small business owners.&nbsp;Everything from obtaining a business license to hanging an awning requires time and a tolerance for red tape.&nbsp;Well, navigating these difficulties can be even more trying if you’re new to the country.&nbsp;Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has promised to fix that by creating an “Office of New Americans” to identify and clear barriers to immigrant entrepreneurs.</p><p>Two things. The Office of New Americans, or “ONA,” is still just a concept. There’s no director, there’s no staff, there’s no budget yet. And second, it’s not just about businesses.</p><p>It’s supposed to help immigrants adjust to all aspects of Chicago life. Whether that be using the library, or navigating the city’s school system. But the business component will be a big part of it.</p><p>Matt Fischler is a Policy Associate in the mayor’s office.</p><p>FISCHLER: Actually, immigrants are 50 percent more likely to start new business in the city of Chicago than current Chicago residents.</p><p>Fischler’s helping create the office. He says other cities have them, and he’s looked to them for guidance: Boston, Los Angeles, Houston and especially New York City.</p><p>You can tell how important immigrant businesses are in Chicago just by visiting the neighborhoods. Many are defined by their unique ethnic flavor.</p><p>Emanuel says encouraging mom and pop shops is just as important as wooing the General Electrics and Boeings.Small businesses help drive job growth in the City of Chicago.</p><p>FISCHLER: if you’re an immigrant come to our shores, you want to start new business, that you either have the educational opportunities available, the mentoring available, and the easiest process available to get the licenses you need, the permitting you need to start your business.</p><p>Here’s where those entrepreneurs go when they want those licenses. Chicago’s office of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. It’s lunchtime on Monday, and it’s busy. Three-quarters of the seats in the waiting area are taken. People are watching local news on a television screen as they wait to be called up.</p><p>Efrat Stein is the office’s spokesman.</p><p>STEIN: If there are individuals that have special needs with language, we have 6 business consultants that speak Spanish, we have one business consultant that speaks French which particularly is helpful to Haitian and African business communities, we have one employee that speaks Mandarin, we have an emploiyee that speaks Cantonese, and we also have an employee that speaks Polish.</p><p>And if someone comes in speaking Gujarat? Hindi? Vietnamese?</p><p>STEIN: Typically here we’re seeing somebody who may have a language barrier is preparing themselves by bringing an interpreter with them.</p><p>Stein says sometimes on-site translation is a challenge. But it’s not the only challenge.</p><p>NGUYEN: Most of the people, the problem is they don’t know how to do the paperwork.</p><p>This is Tam Van Nguyen. He’s helped hundreds of Vietnamese businesses get started in Chicago.&nbsp;This used to be his paid job. It isn’t anymore, but people in the community still go to him for help.</p><p>Nguyen says the license forms are pretty simple. The problem is that they’re in English. In fact, the only foreign language that the city offers the forms in, is Spanish.&nbsp;So Nguyen helps Vietnamese entrepreneurs fill the forms out in English, and then he has to coach them on what to do when they bring them to the city.</p><p>NGUYEN: “be careful when they ask you this question, this question, this question, you know. And if when they ask the question you should answer something like that.</p><p>Nguyen actually used to be able to go to the BACP office himself and file the paperwork on behalf of those businesses, but in 2008 things got complicated. The city started requiring people like Nguyen to have a something called an expediters license.</p><p>Since Nguyen does this on his own time, and doesn’t get paid, he doesn’t have the expediters license. But he’d like to see the city get rid of that requirement. Barring that, he'd like to at least get the paperwork translated into Vietnamese, and have Vietnamese-speakers in the BACP office.&nbsp;If those are things that the ONA will help to start, Nguyen thinks it’s a grand idea.</p><p>NGUYEN: If the City of Chicago to do like that, maybe it (will) make many different ethnic groups, many different immigrant groups feel comfortable and feel happy to do the business with the City of Chicago. That’s my opinion like that.</p><p>Nguyen says for immigrants, this whole process can be confusing and scary, and more than anything, it can just drag out.&nbsp;The city has promised to hire a director for the Office of New Americans at the end of this month, and have the office launch this fall.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 24 Aug 2011 10:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/immigrant-entrepreneurs-new-chicago-office-should-cut-red-tape-90722