Alliance for African Assistance


Mike Slater, San Diego KFSD Radio host of a talk-show of the same name, announced that he was going to interview Walter Lamb, President and CEO of Alliance for African Assistance, one of 4 refugee organizations in San Diego. Because of previous, personal contact with both Slater and Lamb, this writer took note, as explained below:


[When Mike Slater began his show in San Diego, several years ago, it was revealed that he was a recent graduate of a university in Tennessee, although he is originally from the Northeast. He had come to a station with a dedicated Right-Wing following. I could feel him attempting to settle in with a balanced, conservative approach. Accordingly, I began an email conversation with him, hoping to help him keep to the middle of the road. I failed. Consequently, he has revealed a hard-right edge, with an annoying Evangelistic streak, to boot.


Refugee Bereket Kasay and Curtis Long

Refugee Bereket Kasay and me (He learned English and Spanish in a year!)



[Several years ago, encouraged by a friend, I applied to volunteer-teach English as a Second Language (ESL) at the Alliance for African Assistance, on El Cajon Boulevard. I was amazed at the tight interview and screening process. My staff connections were with employees and other volunteers. Any contact with Director Lamb was infrequent and confined to small talk. Because of the great diversity of language among the clients, ESL was the only teaching solution. My experience with the Berlitz Schools of Language in New York City, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Mexico City were invaluable in that regard. During a lull, the student intake dried up; at the same time my transportation situation required me to end my service with the Alliance.]


The Slater interview with Lamb was conducted the day before President Obama announced, at the news conference with the French president, that he will accept 10,000 Syrian refugees next year. Nonetheless, the topic already had been anti-Syrian (Muslim) refugees among the Republican presidential candidates and congress folk of all stripes. It was obvious there was a certain garden path Mike Slater had reserved for Walter Lamb.


Lamb explained that he had come here as a political refugee from Uganda. After menial chores and Americanization, he was able to work his way up to his current position. Lamb founded the Alliance for African Assistance. Despite the title, the organization handles refugees from all the continents.


Then, at the exclusion of all other refugees, Mike Slater zeroed in on the intake of Syrians. Walter Lamb indicated that they had processed about 5 families of Syrians. He explained that refugee applicants are first vetted by the United Nations; then the U.S. puts them through a drawn-out process that takes about 2 years, and that many are not accepted.


Slater then tried to get Lamb to cop to the idea of ISIS infiltration among the Syrians. Lamb held that the vetting process is too long and tedious to be practical for an organization such as ISIS to infiltrate. He reiterated that most are rejected, and that mainly women and children are accepted. Slater pressed him with the possibility of a person with nefarious ideas, but with a clean record, slipping through. Lamb said that anything is possible, but that the monitoring of refugees continues throughout the process of settlement. He persisted that negative ideas about the U.S. would be reported to the authorities.


Slater wanted to know about funding of the organization. Lamb indicated about 30% federal and local governments, and the rest private donations. He went through all the details of the settlement process, stressing employment to be the end-game. Slater was concerned about them taking jobs from Americans. Lamb indicated that refugees come from all levels and professions of society, and that they are expected to take employment of the most menial, learn English and become Americanized. Then they are able to apply for positions in whatever may be their field.


After emphasizing that, "this is mainly a Christian country," Slater wanted to know how many Muslims come to the organization. Lamb indicated about 30%. Then, Slater wanted to know if there are any particular problems with Muslims coming into San Diego. Lamb said that Muslim women are not accustomed to having a job, but that that, too, is part of becoming acclimated to a new environment. Slater then tried to conflate the exodus from Syria to Europe with Lamb's intakes. Lamb repeated that he receives mainly Syrian women and children.


Syrian refugees


In the end, San Diego can be thankful for the presence of turkey on the table and the absence of Syrians under it.



Curtis W. Long

Curtis W. Long

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