Immigrants who arrive in the United States on a diversity visa, randomly selected from among their county’s applicants, often come to the country the promise of a job and without being assigned a place to live, as refugees often are. With all of the U.S. to choose from, many recent immigrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo have chosen to make their home in Kirksville, Missouri.
Truman State University education students had a chance to hear the perspectives of students who are travelled a particularly long distance to Kirksville in an event at Violette Hall.
Buloze Rusesera fluffed pillows in Room 322 at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel attached to the Grappone Conference Center.
She sported a purple ski hat promoting “Colorado,” though she’s never been there. She only came to New Hampshire in November after fleeing the Democratic Republic of Congo and spending time teaching at a refugee camp in Burundi.
Rusesera, 21, is one of six Congolese refugees participating in a hospitality training program to help them learn English, American customs and job skills.
Benjamin Muriithi and Maureen Wairimu Waithaka moved from Kenya to Rwanda to Namibia and finally to Nova Scotia, where they’d like to stay. At first they thought the immigration process would mean transferring their lives. They’ve since learned it’s more than that: it’s starting from scratch.
Here’s their story and videos created for CBC, which includes spoken word from Maureen. In the videos, Benjamin and Maureen are speaking the creolized version of Swahili called Sheng’. Benjamin says “Sheng’ freely mixes Swahili, English and our native languages.”
Last year, the U.S. accepted the smallest of refugees since the modern resettlement program began in 1980.
According to the latest number from the Migration Policy Institute, 22,491 refugees settled in the U.S. in 2018, that’s just under half of the 45,000 person ceiling set by the government.
Although Texas still leads the nation in resettlements. Last year 1,692 refugees came to the Lone Star State, according to the National Immigration Forum. That’s a 77 percent drop from 2015 when 7,479 refugees were settled, according to Refugee Council USA.
The sharp drop is the result of executive actions by the Trump administration, which wants to limit the inflow of refugees to the U.S. The 45,000 admission cap was the lowest since the Refugee Act of 1980 was approved.
Immigrants are a force in Philadelphia, but their educational needs are neglected. As of 2016, Philadelphia’s immigrant population had increased by 69 percent since 2000, accounting for more than 232,000 residents.
An estimated 1 in 4 children in the city immigrated themselves or were born to immigrants, and Philadelphia’s labor force has about 1 in 5 immigrants.
Africans make up the fastest-growing segment of this immigrant population, yet belong to a marginalized group.
In the School District of Philadelphia, immigrants and native-born students of African backgrounds rarely see themselves reflected in curricula. What message does this absence of their people, their histories, their cultures send to children? “You don’t belong — Philadelphia isn’t your city, America isn’t your country.”
Students of African immigrant backgrounds endure bullying for being African, “too black,” or speaking English with an accent.
Historically in America, Africans have been viewed through a stereotypical lens of wildlife and backwardness. These perceptions persist and continue to hurt Philadelphia children.
The city of Madison, Wisconsin, is working on the idea of establishing an African Center for Community Development which will provide employment service, financial advice to make adjusting to Madison easier. The main goal of the African Center for Community Development is to build a sense of community within Madison and create a way for Africans to share and build culture. African community center is intended to increase access to language services, job training and immigration counseling.