New Yorker magazine highlights career opportunities in Refugee Nation

The December 7, 2015 New Yorker has a couple of articles that could be useful to young people planning a career in the Refugee Nation that we’re building here in the middle of North America.

“Resettled” describes the screening process for Syrian refugees:

M. and his family were repeatedly fingerprinted. In interviews, they were asked the same biographical questions again and again. The boy summarized the process in two questions: “Do you want to go to America?” “Did you engage in terrorist activities?”

I.e., if you can take fingerprints or ask a potential terrorist “Did you used to be a terrorist?” you can get a government paycheck.

“The Refugee Dilemma” describes a fifteen-year-old from Sierra Leone:

The family had applied [circa 2000] for refugee status in the United States, and a year after they arrived at the camp the application was accepted. They left for Minnesota, where there are roughly a hundred thousand refugees, many attracted by the state’s social services and high rate of immigrant employment.

He was on track to enroll at Yale (one of whose employees later figures in this saga):

It was the first time that Kargbo had ever been surrounded by white people, and he thought that they had “a bad vibe about black people.” Students made fun of his accent, and he would sometimes respond by grabbing or pushing them.

He and a young friend generated some work for family court judges, child support enforcement officers, etc.:

He enrolled in Job Corps, hoping to become a nurse’s assistant, and began dating Sarah Hemmingson, a white eighteen-year-old whom he met through his friends. She liked that he was understated and funny and didn’t try to impress her. “He wore clothes that were too small and wrong for the weather and made him look homeless,” she told me. … Not long after they began dating, Hemmingson became pregnant. They named their daughter Destanee.

He generated work for Americans in the criminal justice industry:

Kargbo continued to smoke marijuana and drink heavily. He was arrested for a series of misdemeanors, serving no more than a few days in jail for each crime: disorderly conduct, being a public nuisance, fleeing a peace officer, shoplifting, and possession of burglary tools—he’d acted as a lookout, according to the police, while a friend tried to break into a store.

After eight years, he gets a W-2 job:

When Kargbo describes his life in America, it falls into two halves: before and after the Fords. At twenty-three, he fell in love with Marquette Ford, one of the few black people who lived in his neighborhood, and eventually moved into her mother’s home in Woodbury, a suburb of St. Paul. “His group of friends were horrible, and I took him right out of that house where he was living and introduced him to a different type of family,” Marquette told me. He dropped the rapping dream and took a job at a company that manufactured banners and signs.

He and his new young friend generate more work for Americans in the family court and criminal justice systems:

Marquette and Kargbo had three children in four years and moved into a house across the street from Renee. Most people from his village had large families, and it felt natural and comforting to do the same. He stopped socializing, unless his friends came to his house, where he was always watching the children. He worked night shifts, taking care of them during the day. “He chose to be Mr. Mom,” Renee said. “He did the cooking, because Marquette doesn’t cook, and he did the cleaning, because Marquette doesn’t like to clean.” Destanee visited on the weekends, and Kargbo took all four children to the library and taught the older ones to play soccer.

In August, 2013, when Kargbo was twenty-eight and his younger son was a year old, Marquette stayed out past the children’s bedtime without telling him where she was. When Kargbo called her cell phone, it was answered by a man he didn’t know. When she returned home, they got into a physical fight. Marquette’s friend, who dropped her off, called the police and Kargbo was arrested for misdemeanor domestic assault.

The rest of the article describes two additional years in which attorneys, psychologists, doctors, nurses, judges, federal immigration bureaucrats, and prison industry employees all draw paychecks from the taxpayers. Where does Yale cash in?

Ayana Jordan, a psychiatry fellow at Yale who studies mental health in Sierra Leone, told the judge that if Kargbo were deported he would likely have another psychotic episode. “He’d be highly stigmatized, seen as abnormal, feared, shunned, chased out of town,” she said. Jordan said that during her visits to Sierra Leone people told her that mental illness could be “caught” when a cool breeze entered the room while someone was sleeping, through witchcraft and bad dreams, and by bathing at the wrong hour.

Mr. Kargbo earns his freedom after a little more than two years due to the perception of one government worker (a judge) that other government workers (at DHS) were unproductive and/or lazy:

Kargbo’s lawyers filed another habeas petition, arguing that his ongoing detention had come to seem punitive, since it was improbable that he would be deported anywhere. On October 2nd, two months after the hearing, a magistrate judge recommended that the petition be granted, noting that there was no evidence that the D.H.S. had made any attempts to find a new country that would accept Kargbo.

Perhaps the typical refugee immigrant cannot generate this kind of growth in employment for various government-funded sectors of the economy, but even a handful of guys like Mr. Kargbo should result in a lot of hiring.


14 thoughts on “New Yorker magazine highlights career opportunities in Refugee Nation

  1. M. and his family were repeatedly fingerprinted. In interviews, they were asked the same biographical questions again and again. The boy summarized the process in two questions: “Do you want to go to America?” “Did you engage in terrorist activities?”

    I suppose the repeated questions were designed to catch any inconsistencies in consecutive answers, which then would be used to weed out the truly-wanting-to-settle-in-America from any fake, perhaps merely tourist or secret terrorist, ones. The second question shows that the vetting authorities’ questionnaires also evolve… at one time (before mine though) it supposedly started with whether one is now or has ever been a Communist; and later (I had to answer it at least once) whether I have now or have ever had plans to kill the President of the US – which, given the historical record might have had some justification to it ;-))

    [One has to assume that those questions were formulated by some lawyers, who felt that without a proper advance declaration, any caught “accomplished” President-killer might get off on a technicality.]

  2. Isn’t it a failure in screening that this psychotic kid was let into the country? Maybe it wasn’t his fault he was pressed into service, but they didn’t get this story from him while vetting him?

    “After a month of training, Kargbo began helping to loot villages. He and the other soldiers approached towns at night, wearing bulky coats that hid the weapons slung on their backs. The boys entered first, to draw gunfire, so that older soldiers would know where to shoot. Kargbo was often so high that he would shoot an entire magazine of bullets, oblivious of whom he might be killing. The rebels had trained him to feel that he was superior to civilians. He told me, “They were just like chickens to me.” “

  3. Is there anything that indicates that this Kargbo guy is a “typical refugee”? If not, why would you write such a thing?

  4. Vince: You may have missed the last paragraph of the original posting: “Perhaps the typical refugee immigrant cannot generate this kind of growth in employment for various government-funded sectors of the economy, but even a handful of guys like Mr. Kargbo should result in a lot of hiring.” (i.e., the original posting implies that Mr. Kargbo is not a typical refugee immigrant)

    Paddy: I don’t think that welcoming Mr. Kargbo was a bureaucratic error. Under the law as I understand it, the more lurid the story the more secure an immigrant’s entitlement to refugee status and therefore residency/citizenship. See for example: “female clients who sought asylum based on China’s one-child policy were encouraged to prepare for asylum interviews by watching Chinese soap operas so they could describe the experience of a forced abortion.” Also see

    See for a lawyer who “wrote up phony accounts of rape, murder and other religious persecution at the hands of Islamic extremists in Iraq, prosecutors said.”

    In short, if a potential immigrant describes having suffered something that would be guaranteed to result in mental illness that is a plus under U.S. immigration law.

  5. Note that from what I read, Kargbo has 4 kids – who also now have disrupted lives and are likely to ensure further employment in the future for social workers.

  6. The thing is that people should be emigrating from the U.S. to escape the bureaucratic hooey described here.

  7. Yeah, I guess that I scanned through it quickly. If he’s actually very atypical, then he’s not worth that much attention. The fact of the matter is that, if we accept children as immigrants to America, some of the boys will become troublemakers when they reach adolescence. The only way to avoid that would probably be to not take male immigrants under the age of 40.

    [Your sentiments … moderator removed assumptions about another person’s “sentiments”]

  8. Vince: I think that you misread the original posting. It was intended for young people who need to make career choices. It was not intended to attempt to persuade Americans that fewer immigrants should be accepted. As I noted in a comment on a separate posting, “There are a lot of Americans who have a financial stake in accepting immigrants who can be plausibly suspected of being involved in, or planning, violence against America. Our political system tends to resolve issues like this in favor of the smaller group that stands to benefit most significantly. Also, accepting immigrants who are perceived as dangerous creates public acceptance of more resources going to the Great Father in Washington who will protect us from the danger.”

    Given the benefits of refugee immigration to the various interest groups and politicians the relevant question is not “Should we accept immigrants claiming refugee status?” but “How does a young person plan a career in a United States whose economy will be transformed by immigrants claiming refugee status?”

  9. Dr. Greenspun, thanks for your blog post and for looking out for potential career choices for younger Americans. Don’t you think that sometime within the next 10 years, the US will not longer have any money or resources to pay for luxuries like housing refugees, etc? The renminbi has already been accepted as a reserve currency and once oil starts to get priced in other currencies, the economic situation in the US will get a lot worse in my opinion. Therefore, if my premise is correct, then shouldn’t younger Americans aim for careers that will be in demand even if the economy collapses (auto mechanics, plumbers, electricians, doctors, maybe programmers, maybe engineers) and they have to go elsewhere for jobs or function in a barter-type, 3rd world economy?

  10. Anon: Americans are biased towards drama. We imagine that dramatic growth or a dramatic collapse are the most likely outcomes. But Mancur Olson found that long-running democracies tend to stagnate due to the power of entrenched interest groups (see “How Rich Countries Die”). So China might outstrip us in the way that we have outstripped England, or in the way that Singapore has grown to a higher GDP-per-capita than the U.S., but that doesn’t mean we collapse.

    Put another way… England is not, on average, a great place to be a private-sector worker, but there are still some great jobs, especially in government. Or consider the stagnant regions of the U.S. If you chose to work in private industry and remain in those regions you are probably not doing well. If you looked at Medicare in the 1960s and said “Wow, this is going to generate crazy revenue for health care” and chose to go into health care, or a government job administering health care, you’re doing great even while your neighbors are suffering.

  11. My read on this article is that it is the protagonist, Kargbo, has had an awful life. None of us would swap our childhood for his. In fact, if you were to replay any of our lives and swap out our childhoods for his, I very much doubt any of us would be successful executives, engineers, doctors, and so forth.

    However, the fact that someone halfway around the world has an awful life doesn’t entail an obligation to permit that person to live in the US. The bottom 2% of non-American lives are no doubt awful. Admitting the 140,000,000 most wretched humans to the United States, and forcing the rest of us to support them, would in short order transform our country from a prosperous functional place to a pretty lousy one.

    So, what to do? I think the very unsatisfying conclusion we’re left with is that the world will continue to be full of wretched unhappy people. Perhaps we can in good faith allocate some resources to reducing misery abroad so as to assuage our moral guilt.

  12. A family member once worked as a narcotics officer during the ’90s. During a 5-year stint arresting hundreds of drug dealers, 100% were illegal immigrants. His government job would not exist but for immigration of criminally-minded undesirables.

  13. So what are you saying, Smartest Woman on the Internet, in the final calculus, are criminally-minded undesirables ultimately good for America (=driving economy, lowering the unemployment rate among law enforcement and incarceration personnel), or not? I’m asking you, because, were I to ask that, or something of similar hard-nut nature, of Philip, I’d probably be “moderated off,” as happened to me lately, to fellow commenter Vince twice and yourself once today.

    PS. as for Philip’s intention merely being to provide “young people” with another pointer to available “career choices” (here in future immigrant-service industries, say), his atypical refugee example could basically have been one of the failed foreign child adoptions… because quite a few such children, even among those “imported” at the early “baby stage,” and by overeager parents, find it difficult to fit in a society in which they unfavorably stand out, and so turn to suicide and crime.

  14. In conclusion to this single topic posting, Philip muses

    perhaps the typical refugee immigrant cannot generate this kind of growth in employment for various government-funded sectors of the economy, but even a handful of guys like Mr. Kargbo should result in a lot of hiring.

    … which, to my eye, implies that there might be some kind of an informal policy, or at least understanding among officials of federal and state authorities, as to not pursuing hard advance-vetting of immigrants, no less for fear of eliminating future federal/state-funded workload in cases like the aforementioned “Mr. Kargbo.”

    I am aware that though this may sound like a conspiracy (conspiroidal?) theory, perhaps none such is needed when assured continuance of, to use a colloquialism, pork-barrel trickle-down principle is concerned (in Anglo Europe known more as “jobs for the boys,” esp. if in the party in power’s marginal constituencies, but they’re basically the same—if anything made in USA can be downscaled elsewhere).

    Anyhoo, looking for analogies for such “free-immigration-friendly” approach, I found another heavy sector of the U.S. economy, the prison-industrial complex that’s governed by a mixture of both formal political decisions, and informal understandings between the public and the directly benefiting participants in the racket, an accord to underwrite with taxes the incarceration of manufactured felons. I.e. those who end up in prison as a result of police or other LEAs thought entrapment that’s practiced with the intention to “purify” the allegedly otherwise wholly law-abiding public from bad influencers. Entrap, then prosecute, sentence and incarcerate—all at the expense of [implicitly] so-desiring taxpayers. In short, from a pure economic (from my vulgarly pure economic) point of view, as counter-productive and wholly society-destructive activity as can be imagined.

    This is not the place for lengthy essays on that subject, so I’ll just point y’all to a thoughtful full length Sundance-award winning documentary “Pervert Park” (2014; available, if I’m not mistaken, also on Netflix) about a community of jail-term completed, released sex offenders living together in a trailer park in Florida. In trailers set up by a mother of one of them because, with their prison records, and continuing police surveillance tactics, they can find no other abodes for themselves anywhere else in the state; in effect never again become ordinary well-integrated members of the society.

    This is not a plea for being “soft on crime,” much less for such of “abnormal sexual nature(?).” But, watching the film, one has to wonder what went through the mind of the FBI agent posing as that “30-yo woman,” who chatted on some Internet hookup line with a 22-yo male, and insisted that their coming sex act involve her (likewise imaginary) 14-yo daughter? When he sort of agreed, the Feds came. And that’s what the 22-yo subsequently was jailed for in 18 months + supervision, a “lenient sentence” acc. to the judge. Of course, the agent who thought this all up, and formally also should have been charged with the same “thought crime,” was not prosecuted, but (presumably) promoted. I can’t help but think that the step from that to jailing anyone reading a e.g. rape-centric novel (let alone whomever wrote it in the first place) is not very far, and not in some distant USA-future either.


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