In the coming days, President Trump will finalize the lowest annual cap in the refugee program’s history. In Missoula, Congolese refugees are facing the repercussions.
By Zolan Kanno-Youngs
Oct. 30, 2019
MISSOULA, Mont. — On his first day in this small college town cradled between the Flathead and Lolo national forests, Funugo Nsanzinfura made sure to submit the paperwork necessary for his daughter, Faith, and her mother, Ayingeneye, to join him in the growing community of Congolese refugees here.
The population of the Congo is currently said to be 87 million and growing two or three million per year. (Of course, in reality, nobody has much of a clue about the actual vital statistics of the Congo.) The notion that the United States can do anything about the problems of 87 million and counting Congolese via refugeedom is insane, but you’re not supposed to mention that.
… But the Trump administration’s move to slash the number of refugees admitted into the United States in the next 11 months by nearly a half has already canceled several planned refugee flights — including three this week — stranding more than 400 people cleared for transport and leaving Mr. Nsanzinfura in despair.
He is contemplating what was once unthinkable, a return to East Africa and the camp he finally escaped.
Missoula is 46.5 degrees north and 3,200 feet in elevation. The current temperature, as I write, in Missoula is 18 degrees F. In contrast, Kinshasa, Congo is at 4 degrees south and 800 feet elevation. The current temperature in Kinshasa is 86 degrees.
You never hear about sending African refugees to, say, Jackson, Mississippi, even though the climate is a lot better for Africans. That’s because Jackson is already 81.4% black, so there’s no money to spend on refugees.
To supporters like Mr. Engen, the Congolese are filling a void of cultural diversity in a town that is nearly 90 percent white. In the 1980s, Hmong refugees from Laos settled in Missoula. The children of immigrant families are usually the few students of color in city classrooms, while their parents work long hours at businesses eager for the help.
Cultural diversity and lower wages for workers … what’s not to like?