Skilled immigrants who arrive in the United States as legal refugees often find that the U.S. is a welcoming place where they can find good jobs and start a new life, and Eli’s Cheesecake company in Chicago has many success stories to tell. But immigrants with a history of skilled labor and those unskilled are quite different.
Marc Schulman, the president of Eli’s Cheesecake, recently told National Public Radio that many of the refugees he has employed had very useful skills learned in their native country, skills that Eli’s has been able to put to good use. He also praises them as fine, longterm employees whom he has been able to count on.
According to the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, one-third of adult refugees arriving in the U.S. already have college degrees, and others come from highly skilled trades or manufacturing jobs and companies like Eli’s look for these skilled or educated workers among the influx of refugees from troubled countries around the world.
One organization that helps these skilled potential workers in the Chicago area is RefugeeOne. Founded in 1982, the group has helped settle people in Illinois who have come from such diverse countries as Bhutan, Cambodia, Rwanda, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Syria, and many more.
Unsurprisingly, RefugeeOne has come out in opposition to Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s decision to put a halt to any further immigrants from Syria entering his state. The group says it is a mistake to put a halt to immigration. “We strongly believe the U.S. can continue to welcome refugees while also ensuring our safety and national security,” they wrote last year.
Still, skilled refugees and other immigrants are not the problem America faces. It is the many millions of unskilled, uneducated immigrants whom many fear will become not only a drag on our welfare systems, but may become a permanent underclass that is never able to improve lives in the traditional American process of upward mobility.
As Steven Malanga warned in City Journal, unskilled immigrants “crowd into our hospital emergency rooms, schools, and government-subsidized aid programs, sparking a fierce debate about their contributions to our society and the costs they impose on it.”
Many fear what has happened to Europe already could happen or even is already happening in America. Reports note that 81 percent of immigrants who recently flooded into Germany are completely unskilled and unable to get jobs to become useful members of German society.
Despite the sunny optimism of American companies like Eli’s, German companies have nearly given up trying to hire the unskilled immigrants who have crashed like a wave across their border.
As President Obama wildly boosts the number of immigrants, especially from war-torn Syria, many fear that the U.S. will find the same results as Germany with tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of immigrants who can do nothing but apply for welfare and government assistance, thereby dragging down our system along with them.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.