concerned with youth sports activities, some with their chil-
dren’s academics, and some want to have their community
members become homeowners. Doing this work has affirmed
to me that, at our core, we’re all the same.
SS: When it comes to welcoming, accepting, and embracing refugees and immigrants, the city is doing what it can;
it sets a good example of how other cities should welcome.
The rally in February, where thousands of people turned out
to fight for immigration reform, shows how we view some of
these issues, how we embrace and support each other.
JS: Two major reasons we have an immigrant and refu-
gee pipeline in the first place is our world-class refugee place-
ment agencies, in an affordable city. The missing piece was
world-class education, and we’re addressing that.
How are immigrants and refugees doing?
DPB: Language has been and always will be a barrier; it’s
the number one struggle. Learning a new language takes a
long time. And you need it for navigating everything. The
uncertainty in the political climate creates challenges for our
clients; it’s like a gray cloud. They worry. But they are also
JL: The groups that are organizing are doing well. They
are looking for ways to access information and services.
While our office can’t do everything, we’re working to be a
real referral resource. Some leaders recently requested assistance with establishing their own cemetery; we found another group that’s already done it, and put them together.
SS: New Americans, especially refugees, generally tend to
do well and make progress. After fleeing dangerous and desperate places, they help reshape neighborhoods when they
purchase and renovate houses, and add to economy growth
and employment by opening businesses. They are able to
send their children to be educated; adults also have educational opportunities.
JS: It is challenging when students—especially older
ones—aren’t literate in their native language. The stronger
you are in your first language, the more likely that you can
acquire English, which increases probability for success in
school, college, and career.
What can be done better?
DPB: Because of political correctness, and fear of people looking or speaking differently, some are afraid to ask
“TWO MAJOR REASONS WE HAVE AN
IMMIGRANT AND REFUGEE PIPELINE
IN THE FIRST PLACE IS OUR WORLD-
CLASS REFUGEE PLACEMENT AGENCIES,
AND WE’RE ADDRESSING THAT.”