Thursday

Secondary Resettlement Surge Centers for Bhutanese Refugees


Today, I am referring you to the following article:  Akron, OH: Secondary Resettlement Boom Town

Photo by Katrine Syypli
But before you go there, please take a moment to consider again the issue of "secondary resettlement".

“Secondary resettlement” is now in full swing among the Bhutanese-Nepali refugees that have migrated to the United States.  This is, of course, when refugees who were originally settled in one city, voluntarily uproot themselves and move to another.  Reasons for “secondary resettlement” are complicated and usually include factors such as family reunification, the promise of better jobs or cheaper living expenses, and plenty of misinformation (usually related to public aid). 

For some time, cities in Pennsylvania have been among the most talked about as being favorite secondary resettlement destinations.  Now both Buffalo, NY and Akron, OH (see linked article) are emerging as destination cities.  In the case of Buffalo, the attraction is related to the perceived ease of access to government welfare services (BTW – I made multiple attempts to contact the International Institute of Buffalo in order to get some correct information on these issues but didn’t get a reply).  In Akron, the draw is jobs and family. 

Secondary resettlement is a normal part of the evolution of refugee communities and explains why so many Somalis are in the Twin Cities and Burmese have flooded Ft. Wayne.  But it is also a concern.  The runs to other cities are often inspired by misinformation and can create overwhelming burdens on local economies.  Instead of finding jobs, some refugees find flooded unskilled labor forces, high unemployment, and many other unanticipated new challenges. 

Of course, it is crucial to affirm that God is the superintendant presiding over all human migration.  Cross-cultural workers should not fret when families move away.  Still, we should take up the challenge of speaking into the lives of those considering secondary resettlement.  Have that carefully weighed all the facts?  Do they have accurate information?  Have they taken seriously the purpose the Lord has for them in the place of their original resettlement?  This last question, it seems, must be strongly pressed upon those pursuers-of-greener-pastures who also claim to be followers of the God who left the glories of heaven for the way of the cross.  

2 comments:

  1. It is an understadnable and inevitable development for people who have migrated. But in all honesty, secondary resettlement is a weird term. In reality this is nothing more and nothing less then people moving to another place in all liberty. Most of the time because of family reunion.

    That is something that is completely normal. All migrant communities all over the world tend to stick together. The downside is getto forming and issues with that, the upside is stronger communities and ethnic empowerment.

    It's useless to battle it because people are free to lieve where they want after resettlement. It is much better to guide the process and make it a community effort to make sure people are well informed and a social economical basis is formed.

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    1. Thanks for reading and offering feedback, Alice. I'm not sure if "secondary resettlement" is actually a weird term. It is a useful one in diasporology as it does describe a phenomenon that, while being similar in some ways, is nevertheless distinct from the movement of non refugees. Otherwise, I don't think that you disagree with me when I wrote the following:

      "Secondary resettlement is a normal part of the evolution of refugee communities and explains why so many Somalis are in the Twin Cities and Burmese have flooded Ft. Wayne. But it is also a concern. The runs to other cities are often inspired by misinformation and can create overwhelming burdens on local economies. Instead of finding jobs, some refugees find flooded unskilled labor forces, high unemployment, and many other unanticipated new challenges."

      I don't suggest that friends, volunteers, cross-cultural workers and the like "battle" secondary resettlement. Often positive things can result. However, the amount of misinformation involved is truly staggering. I know of a situation currently in which families are considering moving from one city where the high school graduation rate is 90% to another where it is 47% because they believe in the latter the parents (in their 30s) will not have to work, but will get free money and social services from the magical government agencies (the same agencies that serve the city they are in now). I don't know the motivations behind the dissemination of such outright lies, but it should anger those who care about refugees. Here is a family that is soon to move itself into harms way. We don't know what the results will be. While secondary resettlement often has no major negative consequences (sometimes quite positive ones), there are plenty of homeless former refugees who would tell a different story.

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