Abramzon, the executive director of Jewish Family Services, is speaking about refugees from the Iraq War. She says twenty Iraqis and their families have already settled in the Ann Arbor area—and the number may double soon.
The newcomers are among thousands of refugees who’ve been waiting, some of them for years, for permission to settle in this country. JFS is helping out under a contract with the State Department.
Abramzon says many Iraqis want to come here because they have relatives in southeastern Michigan. “People want to be with people they know,” says Abramzon, herself a Russian immigrant who learned English in Ann Arbor.
Some of the refugees served as translators or otherwise helped the U.S. military in Iraq. Though most are middle class and well educated and speak some English, they initially receive public assistance and live in apartments partially subsidized by megalandlord McKinley. JFS is scrambling to find donated furniture for the apartments—and cars so the immigrants can get to work. So far about half a dozen have found jobs, ranging from substitute teacher to pharmacy technician.