General Scenario of the resettled Bhutanese in California.

Tek Mishra
The Golden State of California was once a good place for immigrants and aliens,particularly for those who enter US to take refuge due to the fear of being persecuted in his/her native land. Earlier records reveal that this state has alone resettled about and 14.0%,12.5% and 13.9% of the total refugees admitted to the United States in 2005, 2006 and 2007 respectively. If we look back, we see that even our Bhutanese Refugee intellectuals who came to USA have sought asylum in California, the act of which speaks for itself that this far western state of the US was relatively a better place for the refugees and asylees.The Bhutanese who settled here some years ago say that it was easier to get asylum in California. Plus, the job and security situation were favorable for the newcomers in California.

But, sadly, the current situation is far different. Despite the fact that California successfully harbored the largest number of asylees and refugees even in 2008, yet, it is found that this state has not been a suitable nest for them at present. With State unemployment rate soaring up, hundreds of these newly arrived refugees have not been able to find jobs here. They reach the doors of each and every factory with a prospect of getting a job thinking to ease their living.
Every individual comes to US with great dream of living a better life with dignity. Among the refugees resettled last year in California, a big chunk comprises of those from Bhutan who came here from the Refugee camps in Eastern Nepal. Comparing and contrasting the lives in refugee camp, no one can deny the fact that these refugees have found a lot of improvements in their living style following their resettlement here,but at the same time, they are facing a lots of problems as a consequence of being unemployed. An insignificant number of them have been able to get job. The minimum hourly wage is more or less similar to that of other states. But, the cost of living is comparatively high here. Bhutanese Refugees in San Jose, a south bay city have a very different story. The cost of living in this city is among the highest in California and perhaps in US too. They apartment rent is very high around 2000 to 2500 dollars a month whereas their income is nearly 1400 to 1500 dollars a month. Its very tough to maintain living for them there depending solely on entry level jobs. That’s the exact reason, a few Bhutanese refugee families have already moved to other states and some more are planning to shift in near future.

Bhutanese friends in other states say that some of the refugees are forced to leave their rented apartment for not being able to pay the rent and are living temporarily with their relatives.A majority of the refugees from Bhutan are illiterate. Its very hard for them to find job in USA.The federal Cash assistance is provided to them for the first eight months only. After that, they are supposed to pay themselves. Unlike that, California has,however, some provisions for the unemployed people who can’t work because of language problem. They can apply for General Assistance (GA) to pay house rent. Also there is provision for food for low or no-income people. This is the general scenario of life in CA.

The pain and plights of the Educated/literate Bhutanese refugees is more acute. Though they can speak better English in comparison to any refugees from other countries, they are unable to get any kind of survival job regardless of their qualification. In spite of their tireless effort to find a job, there is no sign of positive changes. Especially in bay area, it is tough to get any kind of jobs. If the person gets a job also it is very hard to switch to another job. They don’t have any choices. The job market is not favorable, especially for the refugees who have lesser amount of specific job related skill and work experience in comparison with others here. Even the seniors who are settled earlier are helpless in this matter.

A few social organizations are devotedly working to ease the livings for these ill-fated aliens here. Organizations like Lao Family Community Inc are helping the newly resettled Bhutanese here in SF Bay area on various issues. Apart from giving efforts to find jobs for the refugees they also encourage them in micro-saving and other economical aspects such as housing, for various paperworkks, etc. Meanwhile, the US chapter of the Sewa International has been making several worthy contributions on various aspects to bring about positive changes in the new lives of the refugees.This organization which is run by Indian Americans, are helping Bhutanese in thirty two different states in USA. They focus mainly on elderly to get adapt to new cultural environment and to preserve the own cultural identity.
All these organizations help to make life easier to which we are very much thankful. Apart from these, the Bhutanese refugees themselves have already formed two non-political organizations  in order to help each other on different matters. But, their support to the community is still invisible due to the economic constraints.

(This is writer’s personal expression and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of


One Response

  1. We the Baraily Family from Colorado Denver Express our heartful condolence to the berieved family of Master.Hari Lal Adhikari.Even we were unknown to each other we r really upset and sad for this incident.
    so we pray God for his soul to keep in the Heaven in Peace and the sorrowful Family for their Rest LIfe be good.Let thier alone of seedling kiss thier Goal.
    ur’s Faithful
    Baraily Family,Colorado ,Denver

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