The airplane ticket to the US is just a loan

Foto: Pontus Höök
REFUGEES IN THE BRONX The Bosnian family - Saha, Midhat and 5-year-old Azemina - has been in the US for less than 24 hours when we meet them: 7.30pm yesterday their plane landed on JFK International Airport in New York. It's windy and it rains, the tempe

Yesterday we reported about Sweden's unsuccessful integration of the many thousands refugees who come to the country each year.

Today we travel to the United States.

Both lands receive every year ten thousands of refugees, but have chosen different systems about how these world’s outcasts shall be received:

In Sweden most of the asylum seekers arrive by themselves to the borders.

The United States want to control its stream of refugees and have tightened the rules concerning the asylum seekers at the border. Each year the president decides how many should be received from the world’s refugee camps (about 75 000 quota refugees during the last years).

In Sweden, for the refugee begins a long awaiting for the Immigration Board’s and the Alien Commision’s order - to be expulsed or admitted. This can last for years.

The United States let them wait outside the country. Once they are admitted, than all the documents are in order.

In Sweden the closest relative becomes often the only link with the country’s authorities, arranging for the housing and providing means for their subsistence.

In the United States, there are ten voluntary organisations that secure the accommodation and pay the first rents and the food. Volunteers drive, help in practising the English language, invite for dinner and show how the subway functions.

In Sweden the language is considered to be the key to the integration and work.

In the United States, one is convinced that the job is the road leading to the society and that the workmates are the best English teachers.

Yesterday we met Ismet in Växjö who has been waiting 14 months for a residence permit. He was lucky. It went fast. He is now practising at the municipality as a carpenter and is studying Swedish for immigrants.

Today we meet his sister Saha and the brother in-law in the poor New Yorks’ district of Bronx.

The seventeenth of May, they arrived to the new country as refugees. Midhat has now four months at his disposal to find a job. If he does not succeed the family will have to live on food stamps.

We meet as well...

... Mujo and his family in Queens. After two months in the United States, he managed to find a job as a car mechanic. But he does not speak any English after the first year.

...Zaw and his brother’s family who live in a little two rooms’ apartment in

Bronx. After one year in the new country, this highly educated 30 years old from Burma has had many low-paid jobs.

...Dragana and Mitch and the son Alex in Manhattan who after six years in the United States have just become citizens and bought themselves an own summer house with a big lawn and a digged pond.

Five important facts:

Maria Trägårdh, Bo Lidén