Monday, September 15, 2008

Worldview: Zimbabwe: Power-sharing Deal Reached?; Burmese Refugees Find Work in Meat-Processing Plants; Resettling Refugees in the U.S.

Worldview (WBEZ: Chicago Public Radio)

Zimbabwe looks close to a power-sharing agreement that has paralyzed the country's political process since presidential elections in June. Also, we'll check in with Chip Mitchell, who has been reporting on Burmese refugees working in Chicago. We'll talk about some of the challenges faced by refugees, their employers and the NGO’s who resettle them.

Zimbabwe: Power-sharing Deal Reached?

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and Opposition Leader Morgan Tsvangirai broke a six-month political deadlock and agreed to share power. Tsvangirai and Mugabe are due to meet to hammer out the final details.

Under the plan, Tsvangirai will become Prime Minister and chair a council of ministers. Mugabe will remain President and head the cabinet. Though Tsvangirai confirmed the deal, Mugabe has yet to comment.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, who mediated the talks, said the agreement would be signed publicly on Monday.

Tony Hawkins is Economist and Professor at the Graduate School of Management at the University of Zimbabwe. He writes for the Financial Times...

Burmese Refugees Find Work in Meat-Processing Plants

The United States lets in tens of thousands of refugees each year. Unlike many immigrants, refugees have legal status. That means they’re eligible to work in the country and, in most cases, they go on to become U.S. citizens.

Non-profits -- usually religious organizations -- work with the federal government to resettle these groups. The organizations often receive money from the federal government to find refugees housing and employment. But the job isn’t easy.

Most refugees come from war-stricken countries like Iraq and Somalia. They also tend to lack skills for the most basic jobs and can face enormous cultural and linguistic barriers.

Later, we’ll learn more about how refugees in the U.S. are resettled and – or if – they’re able to adjust to their new homes. But we begin with a story about Burmese refugees here in Chicago.

A lot of the meat and poultry on U.S. dinner tables is cut and packaged by immigrants without proper papers to be in the country. But stepped up federal enforcement is shaking things up.

Many packinghouses are turning to a different pool of cheap laborers: refugees. In Chicago, Arkansas-based Tyson Foods has been recruiting BURMESE refugees to work in plants as far away as Kansas.

The Burmese desperately need jobs. But it’s NOT clear they know what they’re getting IN to.

Chicago Public Radio’s Chip Mitchell reports and will also speak with Jerome McDonnell to follow up on the issue...

Resettling Refugees in the U.S.

According to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is "a person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of their nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country."

The U.S. is often called a nation of refugees, but our philosophy on accepting refugees is hard to pin down.

Peter Schuck is a Law Professor at Yale University. He specializes in immigration and refugee law. 2.7 million refugees have been resettled in the U.S. since 1975…that number sounds like a big number; Peter Shuck decontsructs it…

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