Over at his blog, Marc Randazza has a pretty good post on the refugee issue. Readers here may disagree with parts of the post, I know I do. Frankly I think framing opposition as fear is a bit much. I’m more in Eugene Volokh’s camp that there is a rational weighing of pro’s and cons to be done.
Having said that, I said something on twitter pointing out that my major concern is actually less fear of the refugees and more fear of reactionary policy and the “Do Something” (TM) Brigade I discussed before.
Reading the post more fully though, something else jumped to mind to me. I’m not sure all of us in our big houses in the suburbs or nice parts of the city are the right people to be saying “no, nothing negative is going to happen.”
I live in the town that took the bulk of the Bosnian refugees, such that we have the largest population of Bosnians outside of Bosnia. Despite the recent arrests for connections to terror, (arms deals gonna arms deal I guess*) I’d still rate the resettlement as a fairly huge success and a net good to the city. But then, I wasn’t going to see any negative effects anyway. I lived in the burbs and my family had nice, educated, skilled (and licensed) work that wasn’t going to be replaced by new arrivals for at least a generation or more. My housing area wasn’t about to undergo rapid gentrification forcing rising costs. (South St. Louis is a hot area to live again for young urbanites.) And if there was a failure of assimilation (unlikely though given Bosnian culture, I’m less certain about Syrians) I wouldn’t be the one living near the analog of Dearborn, MI. But I have relatives in construction as well, and there was a hit there with new lower priced labor. The service industry market changed to the point that unions engaged in what amounted to forcible unionization to artificially raise wage prices again. (The TL;DR here is that a local university cleaning staff was a huge majority Bosnian for several reasons including the lower cost of labor. This stuck in the unions craw so they astroturfed a student protest including sit in and hunger strike until the university agreed to unionize the staff, who previously were perfectly happy and now, thanks to dues actually made less money! Yay Unions!)
Sure, settle 10,000 refugees and it’s probably not going to affect me, but it is going to affect someone. The way this always works is that large groups are settled together to help in transition. It’s how I ended up living in a town that has a small chunk of Bosnia in it. They’re not going to be evenly spread out a few in each city. It’ll be noticeable for some place and it’ll have lasting effects.
Yes, I’d bet that those long term effects are going to be neutral to good, but there will just as likely be short and medium term downsides for at least some people as well. Lower wages, higher housing costs, etc. It’s condescending of us to sit in our nice houses with well manicured lawns and pretend any different.
*There’s always been some suggestion that a chunk of organized crime from Bosnia moved here with the Bosnians, just like with the Russian and Italian Mafia’s elsewhere (oddly, not in our version of little Italy, for a variety of reasons we only got the food aspect.) But honestly until someone is arrested for organized crime style stuff it’s never noticeable compared to say…the nearly 200 murders this year largely clustered in North St. Louis. I guess if you’re going to have crime, you might as well have civilized “don’t harm bystanders” mafia style crime.