We aren’t the kind of family that sends our daughters to work,’’ Mahmoud al-Haj Ali told me one evening this fall. He’d just returned to the family’s dingy second-floor apartment in Aurora, Ill., from the warehouse where he and his 19-year-old daughter, Sham, sorted boxes. At work, Mahmoud tried to keep her in sight. ‘‘I saw how tired she was,’’ he continued. ‘‘It’s more than she can take.’’ Sham’s English classes provided only a shaky foundation in the language, and she struggled to negotiate basic conversations. Mahmoud also spoke little English — we were sitting with an interpreter — but he could manage the essential. Mahmoud work tomorrow, Mahmoud no work tomorrow, he said in self-parody. But he, too, was tired. He rolled up his sweatpants to reveal a swollen leg. In Syria, Mahmoud, 57, who once owned a flourishing locksmith business in the Emirates, would have already retired.
‘‘We didn’t expect it to be so expensive,’’ he said of life in Aurora, an industrial river town 41 miles from Chicago, where the al-Haj Alis arrived in March. ‘‘What can we do?’’ The federal government and the nine nongovernmental agencies that help to relocate refugees in the United States select cities like Aurora because housing and jobs are readily available and the cost of living is relatively low. The al-Haj Alis also receive help with the rent from a local organization, the Syrian Community Network. Still, it isn’t enough. Mahmoud and his wife, Azizeh, had been counting on their son Waseem, who is 27 and trained as a psychologist, to help support the family. His wife, Noorhan, and their two young sons were supposed to be in Aurora, too. But, at the last minute, something went wrong with their application to resettle in America. Now they were stuck in Jordan.
Mahmoud flipped through the spiral notebook in which he calculates monthly expenses: Internet, $52; garbage collection, $40; rent, $1,125; repayments on the United States government loan for the plane tickets from Amman to America, $172. Mahmoud went into his and Azizeh’s bedroom and found the bill for the family’s airfare: $6,130. ‘‘Since I used to own a business, I like to record everything,’’ he said.
Most nights, Mahmoud works at the warehouse until 11 before returning home with Sham. The al-Haj Alis’ sons Ahmad and Mohamed arrive home around then, too, from six-hour after-school shifts at a local supermarket. Although they’re twins, the boys, 17, dress and act as if they weren’t. Mohamed, curls stiffened with gel, favors a tie. Ahmad, an artist, is often bed-headed and prefers sweatsuits. Every day he tucks a Syrian flag into his waistband before heading to West Aurora High School, despite the occasional trouble the flag invites. At the supermarket, he mans the cash register; he likes to interact with customers, in part to show off the Syrian identity to which he clings. Mohamed, who is shyer and speaks far less about Syria, prefers to herd the stray carts in the parking lot.
Pour lire l'article en entier : http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/magazine/why-is-it-so-difficult-for-syrian-refugees-to-get-into-the-us.html?WT.mc_id=2016-KWP-INTL_AUD_DEV&WT.mc_ev=click&ad-keywords=IntlAudDev&kwp_0=94271&kwp_4=475719&kwp_1=264277&_r=1