AP says everything going great with Somalis moving to Postville

Update August 13th:   Turns out it was never going great, see the latest news here.

About ten days ago we reported that the Kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, the one that was raided by ICE because it employed hundreds of illegal workers is now bringing Somalis from far and wide.   Things are just great, says the mayor (and the AP):

The city’s mayor, Robert Penrod, said the Somalis were blending into Postville’s multiethnic fabric.

“They kind of mingle among themselves, and they don’t bother anybody,” Mr. Penrod said. “Some of them have left because they don’t like slaughterhouses, but a lot of them have decided to stay for now.”

Mr. Ahmed admitted he is still adjusting to the area. Like Mr. Abdi, he came from Minneapolis, where he said he had family and a steady supply of Somali food, such as goat meat.

In Postville, Mr. Ahmed said, he occasionally eats Latino food in local restaurants, but hopes an authentic Somali eatery will open soon.

Mr. Ahmed also said more Somalis were beginning to think about Postville as a long-term option.

“We are wanting to bring in families,” he said. “But we all need to make sure this is long term. So far, so good. We came here because they were hiring quickly, and I stay here as long as I can keep my hours.” 

You know its interesting to me that although the Associated Press reporters must know about google, they never seem to pull things together.  You would think there might be some reference in this puff-piece story published in the Washington Times (of all places, normally not so politically correct) to indicate things have not gone swimmingly with Somalis arriving in rural towns.    Shelbyville, TN and Emporia, KS come immediately to mind!

Gold star to the first reader who finds an article that reports the bloom is off the Postville rose!

Waterbury Burmese helped by volunteers not government contractor

This is an update on the series of articles we reported on earlier in the year from Waterbury, CT.    Yesterday’s article in the Republican American shows how refugee resettlement could work and should work—communities and individual churches working closely with immigrants such as these Burmese Karen (Christians).   The present refugee resettlement system is run almost exclusively by government contracted volags (supposedly voluntary groups) who, like the International Institute of CT, frequently drop the ball and don’t care for the refugees.  At least in the case of Waterbury, the US State Department took action and suspended the Institute.

This article tells how private citizens have stepped in and this particular group of refugees is on the way to becoming American—-with summer camp for the kids (arranged by volunteers).

Ideally, this is the way the U.S. State Department would like refugee resettlement to work — the community and non-profits helping refugees assimilate. In Waterbury, however, friction developed early between volunteers and the International Institute, the non-profit agency that brought the refugees to Waterbury last fall, and volunteers responded by doing more. The Institute has subsequently been reprimanded by the U.S. State Department and has been forbidden from processing more refugees, but a degree of frustration — and anger — remains.

“If these people didn’t have us, where would they go?” said Caren Smith, the Living Faith volunteer who has spearheaded physical and dental appointments, meaning she is in these clinics up to four times a week. “These kids were running around with six to eight teeth rotting in their mouth. I mean rotting.” Smith has been helping Karen refugees since November and estimates she, or a member of her family, is in the refugees’ homes three to four times a week. She says during all that time she has not seen an institute staff member.

“[Jo Ann’s] fear is that if she and the other volunteers don’t do something, there’s no other safety net available,” said James Robertson, a Waterbury lawyer. “Who will help these people if not them? If there were a superstructure, a well-developed network that took care of them, maybe these volunteers would not be as energized.”

“The International Institute has really been a disappointment,” concedes Mike Monti, assistant pastor at Living Faith. “Fortunately, there’s a group of folks trying to help these people in spite of the lack [of attention] on the International side….[The refugees]just left to the mercy of someone who would knock on their door and say, ‘Can I help you?'”

Be sure to read what Lavinia Limon (head of USCRI, the mothership of the International Institute) had to say about Waterbury here.  

Reform needed:  We must go back to the old system of resettling refugees one family at a time with the help of private groups and churches.  Presently we are paying multi-million dollar non-profit groups to do this work and they are failing on many levels—refugees are not being assimilated (Somalis!), refugees are left in the lurch,  and the tax payer is footing the bill (including for salaries topping $100,000 for these groups’ staffers).  Cut out the middlemen!