The small town of Shelbyville, TN doesn’t know what hit them as about a thousand Somali refugees have arrived to work at Tyson’s Food. Today the Times-Gazette ran the first of a five-part series on the impact the Somalis are having on this Tennessee town. The Somalis are part of waves of secondary migration of the African Muslim refugees brought to America by the US State Department with the help of volags (mostly church groups in this case) that have rocked small American cities over the last few years. Lewiston, ME, Manchester, NH and most recently Emporia, KS have had to come to grips with Somalis who can now apply to bring more family members to the US.
According to Regina Surber, director of community services in Tennessee for the Department of Human Services (DHS), some of the Somali refugee arrivals to the area are direct resettlement clients while others may be “secondary migrants” who were originally resettled in other states and / or other parts of Tennessee.
“What happens most often in new resettlement communities is that the first to move there are newly arriving refugees, who, after becoming familiar with the area, encourage their relatives and friends to join them,” she said.
I commend the Times-Gazette for this straightforward report on how Refugee Resettlement works. Our newspaper, The Herald-Mail in Hagerstown, MD, steadfastly refused to even tell the public how the program works and as a result we publish Refugee Resettlement Watch to help other communities know what’s coming.
Note that the Times-Gazette has a forum for commenting at the end of today’s article.
Also, check our earlier post about the Tennessee Somali allegedly involved in a government funding scam.