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Employers Turning to Refugees as More Workers Test Positive for Drugs

Sterling Technologies, a plastic molding company in Pennsylvania, is one of many companies who are now hiring refugees in the wake of the soaring drug use that is running rampant in this country. With less and less people being able to pass a drug test, companies are now hiring refugees who hail from countries that are largely unfamiliar with illicit drugs to do the jobs that less Americans are available to do.

Right now, the rate of Americans who are popping positive on their drug tests is at the highest level in ten years, according to Quest Diagnostics. Quest performed 10 million drug tests for employment last year alone, and so they have first-hand knowledge of those who are succumbing to the nation's current heroin epidemic, as well as those who live in states where the legalization of marijuana has been passed. Despite its legalization, marijuana still remains a banned drug in the eyes of the federal government, so while people may think they're still safe to get a job, the exact opposite is true in the eyes of the law.

Over nine percent of employees tested positive for one or more drugs in 2015. And companies like Sterling Technologies have seen rates climb much higher, with 25 percent of their potential candidates failing tests on everything from marijuana to methamphetamines and heroin. Despite the fact that refugees often have problems with the language barrier in knowing little or no English, they are still able to snap up the jobs that drug-addicted Americans are forced to leave behind.

Despite the fact that President Trump has been issuing executive orders recently to limit the number of immigrants who can enter the country, those refugees who have reached American soil in recent years and before the ban are finding the job market to be incredibly welcoming – at least in the manufacturing industry.

For instance, nearly 6,000 refugees have settled in Louisville, Kentucky alone over the past five years, and the area has hired many of them to fill positions that would have otherwise remained vacant. Louisville especially feels the sting of the epidemic, what with meth use in the workplace being 47 percent higher than the national average, according to Quest Diagnostics.

Antigona Mehani, the employment services manager for Kentucky Refugee Ministries, says that White Castle is another company that is taking a "send us as many as you can" approach to refugees. She can usually place a refugee in an open position within three days, and for a company that needs to produce 50,000 hamburgers each hour, the help is indeed welcomed. CNN has reported that a similar situation is occurring in places all over the country, from Ohio and New York to Indiana.

Calvina L. Fay, the executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, noted that while failing drug tests is nothing new, it is certainly a problem that is getting exponentially worse. As Fay noted, companies can't trust employees for drugs every single day, and so there are people who inevitably slip through the cracks. Companies are particularly fearful and frustrated about maintaining the safety of their workplaces, at the very least, and so they turn to candidates who will get the job done without posing a liability.