Lancaster, Mustafa, United States discussed on The Indicator from Planet Money


This message comes from? NPR sponsor state farm. Why do you need state farm renter's insurance because it helps protect stuff landlords? Don't like your furniture that gets drenched by a broken pipe. State Farm Renter's insurance find an agents or get a quote at State Farm Dot Com about two years into their stay at a Kenyan refugee camp after fleeing Somalia Mustafa Nor and his family found that they had been selected to be resettled in the US and initially they had mixed feelings so in the country select you. You're notified two years in that. Hey you know. United States has selected you and that has in the refugee camp that always comes as a great news center. Santa about bad news because Because the United States takes the longest to process innovating they have a hard process. They have hottest scrutiny. Hot above ranch aches six. And he's right. The vetting process for refugees coming to the. US is intense. There's multiple interviews and background checks and security checks by different branches of the US government. It's fingerprints tests for contagious diseases. It can take years from office family. It took a decade but eventually as with other refugees who make it through the whole process assess. The family was paired with a resettlement agency. Mustafa and his family were paired with Church World Service which has a branch in Lancaster. It's nonprofit that receives funding funding from the federal government and from private donors and it sets up refugee families with a few months of housing some counseling services food and clothing and then they tried to US find your job right away because once you around here you have to start paying your bill for the government for bringing you a lot of people. I don't know this but yes refugees payback the US government for the cost of flying here from the southwest big family. Those were not cheap flights around eleven twelve hundred per person so a family of ten ten people. You get a bill of almost ten thousand dollars. Mustafa says he found Lancaster City. Lancaster County unexpectedly welcoming to his refugee family and to other refugee families and that in fact is the city's reputation in two thousand sixteen before the trump administration started limiting. How many refugees could come to the US? The number of refugees were resettled. In Lancaster. City hit a peak of four hundred and seven as a share of the city's population. That's almost twenty three times more more refugees resettled than in the US as a whole which is why. The city was labeled the refugee capital of America by the BBC. So why is Lancaster able to resettle so many refugees. One reason is resources. For example Church World Service. The Resettlement Agency is able to partner with local organizations to provide services is beyond just the basics beyond the initial housing and food and clothes for example. There's a nonprofit that provides health care to refugees. English language tutors the school district and in universities to help with education employment programs and companies that will actively try to hire refugees and train them. She masto Prieto runs. The Lancaster Office of Church World World Service and she says that all these resources make it possible for Lancaster to accept even the hardest cases. Like when there's a huge refugee family of ten or fifteen people or when a refugee has a medical issue and can't work or if a refugee only speaks a really obscure foreign language there are no cases in this area that we that we would refuse so we do have the option when cases sent to us by our national office to say they basically. They're saying will you accept this case so we always do and it's not just tangible resources. There's something else that has given Lancaster the ability to absorb refugees. Its history starting. In the early eighteenth century entry members of the Mennonite and Amish churches were fleeing persecution in Europe and started moving to Lancaster. The county still has a huge amish mennonite population and and the value of welcoming people in need of a new home has remained Steve Noel. A professor at Elizabethtown College spoke with us at the Mennonite historical society which features exhibits exhibits about the Amish and Mennonite history of Lancaster. Well in the in the late nineteen seventies and early nineteen eighties. For example Mennonites in this area were were deeply involved in resettlement of refugees from Southeast Asia. from from Vietnam Cambodia Laos and that's that was motivated both by Christian humanitarian concerns and also concerns that as Mennonites as conscientious objectors pacifists. I am in fact Mustafa's own experience right after arriving in Lancaster reflects this my first ever job. was I worked with Amish. I used to work for a company that build moved garages and sheds so used to install windows. He did well enough at this job installing windows for these sheds that he was hired by a company called E. Impact Marketing working which provides marketing for amish companies in the area in which trained Mustafa in Web design. Mustafa would end up becoming their head web developer and then he started thinking thinking more broadly he started a company called bridge which is a website where people can sign up to have dinner in the home of a refugee family in the area. The refugee family will cook the meal and share their story and the family will also said a fever. The dinner which it gets to keep bridge charges service fee which is how it makes money. Mustafa's office original pitch for bridge. One A business plan competition which provided the funding to get started. My feature was done I was gonNA instead of instead of free training or giving refugees a new skill. Why not give them a plot from where they can on an income with what they already know and we'll have their culture under food and part one we? We explained how refugees and immigrants contribute to an economy by helping its population grow and giving new businesses more people to sell two into higher Adamo MIC. The Lancaster based economist. I says it stories. Like Mustafa's also demonstrate the more subtle ways to immigrants and refugees contribute a move into neighborhoods that others might find less desirable herbal and they start interesting businesses and they really contribute to the diversity of consumer experiences downtown and you can in downtown like stir. You can eat into Vietnamese place. You can meet on Nepalese place. There's just a huge amount of writing. Her Moustapha says his company is making money and he even has plans to expand into neighboring in York County and he adds. His story shows the symbiotic relationship between the Lancaster economy and it's refugees and it goes something like this. The success of the Economy Konami makes it possible for the city to offer resources to these refugees so that they can prosper and they're prospering feeds right back into the success of the Lancaster economy. So what happens happens is warning refugee person comes here the community. This community has done a very good job of harnessing that refugee person as a whole from employment to training to the job opportunities to internship training. So I I went through those different circles of of coming here sieving. Welcome Hi finding a stable able job and then how developing a skill. Which is the development web development using that skill to create a company? Now so it's a great circle on. It's it's a something which is very I don't WanNa say unique. What's special about Lancaster? Lancaster is now a pretty good place to get it by. This episode of the indicator was produced by Lena Sons Gary fact check by Nadia Lewis. Our Editors Paddy Hirsch in indicator is a production of NPR.

Coming up next