Employment America

By Marlenna Godfrey


There are the basic needs that the refugees receive they are financial assistance for housing, healthcare, and clothing and food. There is not enough assistance to be able to afford everything they need to live with. Around the United States the situation is different for each state and there are different conditions that are taken into consideration. In San Diego housing is very expensive. Finding a job is difficult because the new Americans have to learn enough English to be able to get a job.  According to Cruz, Job Placement Coordinator, the number of refugees living in America are mostly composed of women and children, most of the husbands are killed and aren’t able to qualify to relocate.

According to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, zoning laws, create problems for the low-income families. A Somali refugee explained that he had to hide his youngest child from the authorities so he wouldn’t have to have a house with a three bedroom. Since he didn’t have enough money to pay for a three bedroom house. About sixty percent of his income was already going toward housing. Many families do not qualify for public housing assistance because they have more money coming through in their incomes, so the housing authorities claim they should be able to afford housing on their own. This can be examined through the fact at least both parents have at least one job. If they do qualify for housing assistance, they’re put on a waiting list takes up to one year before getting assistance.

Sometimes housing the New Americans can afford is in unsafe neighborhoods, where robberies and vandalism take place. There is some gang activity that can also be seen in the neighborhoods. According to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in Benson, North Carolina the town codes don’t require a mattress for sleeping, a telephone or more than one toilet for twelve people.

Furthermore, their legal status blocks immigrants and refugee families from seeking some forms of assistance. New Americans try to become “invisible”, which makes them very poverty and vulnerable to exploitation.

The unemployment, poverty and crime rates continue to be high in City Heights, San Diego. In San Diego the statistics report a poverty rate of 19.22%. Only 40% of the adult residents have graduated  from high school and nearly 60% earn less than $25,000 a year; more than 30% live below the poverty line.


Greg Anrig, senior fellow for the Century Foundation states that about 86% of the United States population is made up of the New Americans in 2002 as the years before were only about half of the labor population with the New Americans. This could be seen as the years go by more New Americans come into the United States and are able to come up with a job in the labor force.


The New Americans are able to be employed in normal average American jobs without having a degree, but however they have to be able to speak English and know it well. There has been an increase in jobs between the years of 2000 to 2010. In addition, there are not much training that is done for these jobs to exists, which makes it easier for the New Americans that don’t have a degree to be able to come up with a job to pay for their daily needs. According to Greg Anrig, senior fellow for the Century Foundation,  33 million new job openings that require moderate training. In about 58% of the projected new jobs in the time frame consists of mostly work in restaurants, construction, retail, trucking, and hospital care. In manual jobs about 1.1 million new lower-skilled immigrants have become employed since 1994 as the native-born population attracted to such jobs has declined from 9 million to 7.6 million.


Social Security, food stamps, and Medicaid are just a few of the needs that the New Americans are offered living in the United States. This can be viewed as how much the New Americans are struggling living in the United States with just a basic job, most of the New Americans need support, however most of it comes with the healthcare. Three million legal immigrants who have come into the country since then are not eligible for social security, food stamps, or Medicaid unless and until they become naturalized citizens.

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                 Greg Anrig, senior fellow from the Century Foundation in the article titled Workers and Economic Inequality: Immigration, jobs and the American economy, there wasn’t much of an increase in the jobs other than the operators, fabricators and laborers who are the people working in the factories. Most of the people working the factories have become the majority of the work force. About a third of the immigrants have not finished high school, as compared with thirteen percent of native workers, fill the low-skilled jobs.

The New American is the titled to a you tube video that explains what living in another country is like during the 1990’s with the explanation of living in tents and sleeping on the ground the people interviewed go into explain what type of food they eat. Frogs and other creatures are what the New Americans eat in the other countries that they are from, but are not usually consumed in United States. The New Americans think that living in America is a lot better, because you’re not living in a tent, your living in a normal average American home. The video explains one man’s lifestyle living in Africa. The man explains how they have to get water in Africa as they go out and get buckets of water and bring it back to their tents, since they don’t have the luxury that the American people have with running water coming out of the faucet. The New Americans explain their views on what they think United States is about and how much of an impact they will have from moving to America. They believe that if they move to America that they will have everything that they need.

New Americans can get help with education and learning the new language where ever they are in the United States there is an educational site, The World Networks for Integrating New Americans, this site helps New Americans learn skills they need to receive an entry-level job. This site also helps New Americans improve their skills to be able to receive higher paying jobs. There are several projects that are listed on the site that have incorporated the learning education for the New American adults and have serve a purpose in helping them learn to get a better paying job through learning the skills of language, literacy, and several other skills as well. This site might be a beneficial site to help the New Americans learn the skills they need to in order to get a better paying job. There are several hotlines like Massachusetts Adult Literacy hotline or the System for Adult Basic Education Support Center for Education and Career Planning. There are several colleges and universities that are behind the idea such as Lesley University, Massachusetts, Mississippi Community College, and Kent State University, Ohio. For more information on the educational site visit their website.

The theme for this assignment would be Reaching out to those who are working through Immigration and Refugee stories.

There are many jobs that New Americans work in such as; manufacturing, food services, trucking, and construction work these jobs are some of the jobs that the organizations in the  Erie Community can help place the immigrants and the New Americans into, however as the ladder is built and the New Americans can climb that ladder by learning more skills and gaining more education they can receive a job with a degree that they can have a good paying job for the rest of their lives. Many New Americans and immigrants come into the United States not having much of anything and through the organizations in the Erie Community they strive to become more educated and advance in employment. The organizations in the Erie community help those who are in poverty become self-sufficiency. These organizations all have different pathways of helping out those New Americans and immigrants, but they all have the same mission to help those in poverty move towards self-sufficiency.

There is a youtube video that explains the life of what it’s like to live as an illegal immigrant in the United States and paints a vivid picture of life as an immigrant in the United States as they don’t have pretty things or live in healthy conditions. The immigrants live out in the woods or in abandoned homes where no officials will come to visit them. The immigrants try to live a life of being homeless and not having food or good shelter. In the video called the documentary tells a story of desert deaths Arizona public media. The people who are making the video try to do their best and make the video have a big impact on the audience that will be seeing the video and make them understand how much of a problem illegal immigrants living in the United States really is.

There are many immigrants and refugees that contribute to the United States economic growth. This means that there is more money paid in payroll taxes to social security and medicare. According to Audrey Singer, senior fellow for the Metropolitan Policy Program and author of Communities with New Immigrant workers Deserve Federal Aid, says about one-third of immigrant worker’s don’t have a high school education and it puts a hard amount of pressure on the community and the workforce along with the wellfare  of those around them. She also says about 37 million immigrants  living here in the United States or 12.5 percent of the population, about 11 million to 12 million are not with legal status. Those who don’t have the legal status can not make a living or gain any educational skills and may also be forced out of the United States.

My source that I will contact is the Multicultural Resource Center located at 554 E 10th street Erie, Pa 16508. Their phone number (814) 455-0212. They help with employment for those who are New Americans and refugees and they also help with naturalization and citizenship rights here in the United States. They also help with representation before the Immigration Court and they also represent before the board of Immigration Appeals. They have been helping the immigrants since 1975 and their hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Their mission is to promote and educate the Refugees and immigrants to learn the English language and help those advance in employment so that they can afford everything on their own. I think this would be a good source to be able to get in contact with the New Americans that I could get in contact with. They probably have some ideas of the types of jobs that they help the New Americans get into without a degree since they do help those with employment. I think they should also have some information on the type of poverty the New Americans are facing. The center employs more than 50 individuals located in the old Penn Schoolhouse at 554 East 10th street in Erie. According to President Richard Perhaes, the annual budget is 2,100,000.00. There are many programs that are apart of the organization such as a notary service run by Deb Pazmino, Educational programs and also assists with employment and can also help get students their GED. The Multicultural Resource Center helps refugees with employment through job options of assembly/packing, construction/carpentry, food services/ restaurants, general labor/ light labor, technical/ mechanical, housekeeping/care giving, and plastic shops/ machine shops. There are also refugee support services allowing refugees to talk about their social and behavioral situations, language services allowing for people to learn the English language to help them in the American jobs.

My reporting plan is to collect information through going to organizations and having them give me some people who I could talk to and hopefully, make a good interview with the New Americans and talk to them about their daily lifestyles and see how much support they really get from organizations. I also plan to ask them many questions about their daily living style and how they spend their time, how they make a living and what type of jobs they really have. I intend to have myself doing an interview that is recorded and be able to collect as much information as possible and listening intently and fully to understand their understandings on how they feel and make a few points here and there to hopefully have them answer some questions that will be relevant questions and have more than a one word response. These sources that I have listed I think are good sources, because they have some names of people who are New Americans that they have helped and probably have some statics of about how many people they do help out along with the amount of poverty that they are facing and the type of social and behavioral issues that they deal with when placing the New Americans in their jobs. I think that I might also add some interviews if I can find some on you tube about the lives of New Americans through employment and their daily life’s of making that money work for the normal average American jobs and explain how the New Americans are affected through poverty and not being able to pay for everything. I think by adding more videos, that aren’t from the Erie County that more people around the world can understand how to move from poverty to being self-sufficient, because the organizations that are in the Erie County are not everywhere in the United States, so I think by adding more videos, could help those understand that there are programs and organizations that are not just in the Erie County, but in other places around the United States as well.

Undocumented immigrants are people who don’t have the official paperwork to allow them to live in a new country. People who decide to come over to a new country without legal documentation come, because it is too expensive, complicated, or slow even if they are in a desperate situation. From the Washington Post, “Only 0.5 percent of U.S. born workers are employed in farming, fishing, or forestry, while 4 percent of unauthorized aliens work in those fields, Pamela Constable. These illegal immigrants only come to the United States and find the jobs that most Americans don’t want to do such as; farming, or hard labor jobs that Americans find disgusting and would rather not do. Illegal immigrants only come over to find work and live with families that are already here in America as U.S. citizens.

In the article Busted for hiring illegal immigrants, about 7 million of the nearly 12 million illegal immigrants living in the country are employed, making up 5 percent of the American workforce, says Brittany Parisin. Most Americans find that illegal immigrants living in America come to the United States to take over their jobs, in reality the illegal immigrants come over and work on jobs that U.S. citizens would rather chose not to do such as farming. Illegal immigrants are people who find work in jobs that need someone to work for them. They also, find jobs that don’t make them visible to authorities, they won’t work in grocery stores, or businesses that bring in a lot of the public.

Undocumented immigrants work hard to stay “invisible” they avoid events that will call attention to themselves, or make people ask questions, says PBS kids. Illegal immigrants are employed by employers who feel that they can pay low wages and ignore dangerous conditions of the work place. Although undocumented immigrants have the complete access to the court system to recover damages in a personal injury claim, however many don’t, because they are worried about being deported. Jose, an illegal day laborer in Indianapolis who regularly works for construction contractors, recently fell off a roof at a job site and hurt his back. He had the right to sue the company he was working for after they denied him compensation for the injury,” Parisin said. When Jose confronted the contractor, he says the man threatened to call the authorities, so he never pursued the issue, Parisin said. When Jose confronted the contractor, he says the man threatened to call the authorities, so he never pursued the issue, Parisin said. Jorge, says that he went to his contractor to tell him that he worked 27 hours on a residential roofing job and was never paid. “I went to where they were putting on the roof and asked to be paid, Jorge says. “He said “Leave of I’ll call and have you deported,” said Parisin. The undocumented immigrants who come to another country try to help the family with money, by sending back to their home lands.

In reality undocumented immigrants living in the United States could be seen as a problem in which most Americans think that they come over to take jobs away from them, but they are just taking the jobs that nobody really wants to do like cleaning up cow mower. Illegal immigrants work hard to stay invisible away from authorities, most of the authorities come to search different job sites to find the undocumented immigrants and have them deported. In reality illegal immigrants should stay in the United States if they are working on the jobs that nobody really wants to work for, but are also behaving and staying out of trouble.

An example of what life living in United States as an undocumented immigrant this is a youtube video clip.

Immigrants and refugees find it hard to work in the United States because if they go out to use their money to buy groceries they get stop by the authorities and if they are caught without legal documentation living in the United States they are placed into detention centers. Once they pay off their fines they are deported. They are deported back to their countries where they decided to come back to United States again, because of reasons of having family who are United States citizens and are willing to take the chance of being caught living in America again just so they are not away from their families. Illegal immigrants usually try to find someone to go buy their groceries for them, so that they don’t have to worry about being caught by authorities. Illegal immigrants will try to not go, so much as a group to avoid the authorities in a group of illegal immigrants there is a higher chance of being caught and deported. This way they stay invisible to the authorities and that way they can’t get caught.


The Multicultural Resource Center is a place where the center brings in resettled refugees and help them better themselves. The center clients that come through are through the resettlement program and they are the people who have faced persecution in their country or beaten through persecution and are afraid to be suffering with horror, because of the many reasons of political, religious, and racial reasons. They don’t feel free in their country maybe even the authorities are the ones who are beating or having the refugees go through undesirable conditions, without helping them or they don’t want to do anything about the people or unable to protect themselves or their families, so what happens is that the flee or they go through the resettlement program and they bring them over to another country that is safer and where they can live their lives most of them come to the United States for that.

This is Paul JcRich at the Multicultural Resource Center and his interview that I had with him.


At the Multicultural Resource Center, I was able to interview Mutaar Ahamed. He has worked for the center for two years and he started off as a driving instructor, teaching people how to use the driving simulator, so it can be easy for them to learn how to drive. It is much quicker, because it can cost a lot of money to get through the driving school and there is a waiting list for the driving instructor. If they do this, they have less time to acquire the skills that is necessary to pass their test. For months, Ahamed was just substituting working for the driving instructor, until the person who had the job that he has now returned back home. In January he started working at the Multicultural Resource Center, since then he had been working as a case worker, job developer, interpreter. While he was working there for about a 1 1/2 year, was also working at a manufacturing company. Personality he doesn’t have a preference when it comes to what kind of job that he does as long as he sees a challenge to it, because if it repeats itself and there is no challenge to it, he has no enjoyment in it. He enjoys thinking and solving problems, the job that he does is different everyday. Ahamed helps clients with issues ranging from simple to complex. He tries to see the difference he can make in somebody’s life. And what has to be done to help them at the end you get the result they want. They are very grateful and just to see them smile on their faces  makes doing  what you’re doing worth it, he says. The job that he does is very challenging, so he didn’t like it when he worked in the factory. They people that he worked with didn’t have any idea on how they wanted to farther themselves. So they were just drifting along and didn’t plan to do anything, so it was not very enriching, when he started working at the Multicultural Resource Center, he encountered a lot of challenges and learned a lot. When he started there it was very different and the skills that he learned there is very excellent. The Multicultural Resource Center is a local agency so they work with just the community and work with different clients. Originally the agency used to work with Hispanics and used to be called the Hispanic Federation Center and later, started working with other groups of people.

The Multicultural Resource Center does is related to refugees being resettled here from many parts of the world and do work with them for the first 5 years of them being here, and does everything almost except give them money. They don’t take money from their clients so it’s a free service and they do have a fee for service programs, because to do what gap the funding issues they have at times, but about 90% of the services are free. Without the fees for the services it would be a lot harder to do without right now. The Multicultural Resource Center clients have been in the country and  have never been in the city, to start them not all of them are here have the privilege and 90% of them don’t speak any English in this country it doesn’t matter if you speak the language or not you are still expected to do certain things. For instance, letters come in the mail  everyday and that’s a big thing here we do. Quite a few of them need them to be able to respond to them and are not responding to them, because of them not knowing English. Usually there are consequences, without our help they absolutely be able to learn the language. The Multicultural Resource Center helps them to fulfill their duties so that they can keep up to date for at least the first 5 years. They still do have clients that have still come to them after the first 5 years and they don’t need as much help and they play a very fulfilling job and they do a lot of things, if you seen the things that the Multicultural Resource Center do such as; learners permit and driving class. Parents when they come to the center they learn everything at first to get their learners permit. When your born in the United States and turn 16, your parents will help you out, showing you how to drive, so they don’t have that support system here as a refugee. What happens is they have to start from scratch, it could be very challenging, especially if you’re an older person it’s even more challenging, so they also have a language barrier. The Multicultural Resource Center has to get them ready to take their permit test and they also provide an interpretation service to actually go out with them and interpret the test in their language so they will be able to get it faster in having to become proficient in their language to take the test.  When the refugees get their permit they start their driving simulator and they do this for about 10 hours. After they finish, the Multicultural Resource Center has to find funding to pay for driving school lessons for 10 hours, but most of them, when they get their permit, they are have very little emphasize, so they go out and find someone to teach them and it takes time, because there is a waiting list, the program the Multicultural Resource Center has is a driving school so within months they might get in.

The driving simulators, permit class and English class help them to gain employment here in the Erie community. These classes help them find a job so that they can earn money to pay their bills after they start working at the Multicultural Resource Center keeps in touch with them on a regular basis, for when they need help. After the refugees have been here for a year, they are able to adjust to their status from being a refugee to a permanent resident, so the center has that program as well. That’s where the fee for service comes in. The application fee is waived by the government, but to prepare the application charge $50, so they have to do that. It is a very critical process, because if they don’t do that and two years goes by then the refugees, no longer are considered a refugee, basically they are considered unable to obtain employment, because they don’t have a valid status. After 12 months, the Multicultural Resource Center helps them to apply for their green card (permanent) they get it within four to five months, after they get their green card, they receive 10 years of permanent residence in the United States. After 5 years they also have the refugees apply for citizenship if they continuously stay in the country and the center also helps with that. After 5 years, if they pass the citizenship test they become U.S. citizens and a lot of them buy houses, they become members of the community where they evolve and making sure they meet all the deadlines to making themselves self sufficient.


“It’s a pleasure to see someone that just arrived, don’t know what’s going on around them and after 5 years down the road they are like everybody else”,says Ahamed.

Learning the English language time slot comes in many different variety, younger the refugee is the quicker they learn. Mostly the parents struggle, but the good thing is that the children get the language much faster and help their parents, it is very hard, especially if you have children and you need to work, some parents work and have two jobs at once, so the center advises them to set a part a time to learn the new language, because that allows them to advance in their employment and get better paying jobs and so there’s no estimate of how long it takes for them to become fluent in the language, but most of them after a couple years they manage to basically learn to communicate and follow instructions and after they reach that point, if they are over compliance they are happy with that, they are usually able to pass on the sit situation test. Younger clients become fluent in the language. Older clients takes a lot of time, and most of them evolve in the basic communication style. The refugees who are older use the English language to follow instructions in involving work and passes the citizenship test. After that they consider themselves to be okay and they don’t pursue and try to become fluent. Partly, because they work and live with people that speak their monotone. Their incentive is not to continue the English language. English is not an easy language to learn, very complicated if you look over and see all this complex. They say they don’t want to bother and the good thing is a lot of programs especially health care and schools, provide interpretation services. That is a big thing, because if you go to the doctor or school it is very hard to keep up on top of things. So the interpretation services (the center provides the interpretation services) so, the schools, the health care offices all these places, most of them are required to provide interpretation services, so that helps a lot.

It is very hard for him to say that having long lasting future for his job, but he is sure that he doesn’t have any plans, but for work he does. Yes, he certainly enjoys the certain people and certainly continues to be friends with the people he works with,but he will stay at the center for the next 5 years, maybe, but anything beyond that he doubts that. As far as the organization for a long lasting future for the next 10 to 20 years, he says nothing to do with the agency here it’s what they have done and that’s how amazing the agency is. They have adapted over the years, started working with Hispanics and started providing services to the community, so it would have to revolve and to stay open. He thinks there’s a lot of good people here and that’s a very good thing, so for him, he might not be here at the Multicultural Resource Center in 4 to 5 years, but he thinks  the agency will remain open and in placement of the community. As far as technology goes right now, they will try to develop, the agency use technology, but they don’t use anything complex everything is very basic. The Multicultural Resource Center is people oriented agency and the services they provide don’t have anything bi-tech. They have services, but he doesn’t think that there’s a need to keep up to date with technology, otherwise it would be a great compass. There’s not that kind of pressure at the agency.




















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