For many years, refugees in Orange County and the so-called Silicon Valley in the San Jose area could count on the electronics industry to provide a steady flow of cash jobs. But in the last year, the market for personal computers has collapsed, prompting several firms in both regions of the state to shut down or scale back their operations.
Refugees in San Jose said cash jobs still exist in the electronics field but that the work is unsteady. Until the industry picks up again, refugees on public assistance say they have taken jobs in restaurants and sewing factories and as operators of lunch wagons.
In Orange County, hundreds of refugees work every Saturday and Sunday for cash wages at two large swap meets. "Nobody gets caught," said one swap meet worker, a Vietnamese teen-ager whose family was resettled in 1975 and remains on welfare. "This is America. This is a free country."
FOUR TIERS OF THE REFUGEE BUREAUCRACY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT State Department
Establishes quotas for refugee entrances.
Allocates money for initial costs of resettling refugees. Dept. of Health & Human Services: Office of Refugee Resettlement
Proposes and implements national policies affecting refugees.
Allocates money to states and localities for job and English language training, job placement and other support services. STATE GOVERNMENT Office of Refugee Services
Administers job and English language training programs and job placement programs directly and through local service providers.
Oversees cash and medical assistance to refugees.
Oversees the Refugee Demonstration Project--a three-year California pilot program intended to help newly arrived refugees become independent of the welfare system. COUNTY LEVEL County Department of Social Services
Provides welfare payments to refugees.
Responsible for sanctioning refugees who refuse to participate in training or job placement programs. County Refugee Coordinator
Oversees job training and job placement programs at the local level.
Contracts services to local agencies. FRONT-LINE AGENCIES Voluntary Resettlement Agencies
First stop for refugees entering the country. These private and public agencies provide food, shelter and clothing during the first 30 days of resettlement. Central In-take Unit
A private agency that serves as a clearinghouse for services and a second stop for refugees. Refugees are tested for job and language skills. Those determined to be job ready are sent directly to private agencies for job placement. Refugees in need of further training are sent to appropriate programs. Local Service Providers
Private and public agencies on contract to counties to provide training and job placement. This is the front line of contact with refugees.
COUNTING REFUGEES U.S. and state estimates of the number of Indochinese refugees who:
Were resettled in U.S. since 1975 1,000,000 Were resettled in California 400,00 Collect state welfare 200,000 Are in L.A. County 100,000 Collect welfare aid in L.A. County 50,000