By Sasha Chanoff (Opinion contributor ) | USA Today
With unemployment hovering at record lows, there are hundreds of thousands of jobs available in health care, service, manufacturing, construction and other industries that Americans alone can’t fill. “Never before have we had an economy where the number of open jobs exceeds the number of job seekers,” Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said.
The 3.2 million refugees who have come to our shores since the refugee resettlement program started in 1980 make up an important part of the American workforce. And more could do so if we let them in.
But the Trump administration is decimating U.S. resettlement — by reducing slots to historic lows and chopping the legs out from under the program. This year we will see the lowest resettlement numbers in our history, perhaps 20,000 compared to an average of 95,000 annually. And the administration may shrink the official cap even more for 2019.
U.S. businesses want to hire refugees
With an unprecedented 25 million refugees living in exile for an average of 20 years before going home, the decimation of U.S. resettlement is a tragic abdication of global leadership. It also leaves many jobs unfilled and many industries hurting.
I used to help refugees find work in the U.S. They often took jobs that Americans didn’t want. What I heard from employers then — that refugees were dependable, dedicated, fast learners and long-stayers — has now been captured in a new nonpartisan report, Refugees as Employees: Good Retention, Strong Recruitment. It found that turnover rates were up to two thirds lower for refugees than for employees overall, and that when a few refugees succeed, it's easy to recruit many more.
That's not surprising. The experience of losing your home and having your life shattered lights a fierce and unique kind of fire to regain control and reestablish yourself.