Another Kansas meat packing town struggling with immigrants

The Tyson’s meat packing plant is down the road about five miles from Garden City, KS, but the spillover of refugee workers into Garden City seems to be starting to have an impact on the town according to a pair of stories in the Garden City Telegram.   I’ll report on the driving problems refugees are having in a second post today because, lo and behold, I have a similar driving story from Ft. Morgan, CO from a couple of weeks ago that I never posted.

In the first story, Burmese refugees gathered recently to express their concerns about life in Kansas.   The story is written in such a way that you can tell there is a ‘back story’ with more concerns also being expressed by local residents but not reported in this politically correct version of what is going on.

Incidentally Tyson’s is also employing Somalis, Ethiopians, Cubans and other refugees at the Holcomb, KS plant.  Many of the Somalis came from the Emporia, KS plant that was closed last year.   The Emporia story became so controversial we created a whole category to cover it, here.

This is from the Garden City Telegram a couple of weeks ago:

Members of a burgeoning Burmese community are hoping their efforts to band together in spite of their multiple ethnic backgrounds, dialects and religions will aid them in their hopes to assimilate to life in southwest Kansas.

Several families of Burman, Karen and Chin background have formed the Burmese Refugee Community of Southwest Kansas and met for the first time with local officials Sunday night in the shade of an apartment building at Garden Spot Rentals, 305 W. Mary St., where an estimated 40 of Garden City’s Burmese families live, said Zuali Lal, one of the group’s leaders.

“A lot of the families are struggling,” said Zuali, who moved to Garden City last month with her husband and two children. “Some do not have chairs to sit in their homes, and some men do not have enough money to feed their pregnant wives.”

Most all of the Burmese residents, many of whom work at the Tyson Fresh Meats Holcomb plant, do not speak more than broken English, Zuali explained, which exacerbates cultural and social barriers.


Many of the leaders of the Burmese community echoed her sentiments during Sunday’s gathering, where many of the adult men sat in their longyis, traditional sheets of cloth worn around the waist and running to the feet, in the folding chairs sprawled across the lawn.

The leaders expressed their consternation about how and where to go for help for concerns such as putting food on the table and assistance with their immigration statuses.

In an effort to adapt to new policing laws, understand the educational system, and be good tenants, Zuali and several other leaders in the community organized what they hope is the first of several meetings with representatives of local agencies, including the Garden City Police Department, Garden City Community College, Grace Bible Church, other social service agencies, and even their landlord.

My first thought on reading this story was, O.K, where is the refugee resettlement agency?  Who resettled these refugees and left them without proper furniture and no help with their paperwork.  Or, were these all refugees resettled elsewhere and became secondary migrants when they were recruited by Tyson’s Food.   It does sound like someone formerly affiliated with a refugee agency is involved, but not officially involved in the resettlement.

For the short time she has been a Kansan, the former case manager for the Refugee Women’s Alliance, based in Seattle, has voluntarily served as an interpreter and advocate for her neighbors, she said.

Reforms needed

If it’s the latter, that Tyson’s Food recruited these refugees from elsewhere, maybe one reform we should be promoting is that when the State Department and the taxpayer- supported volags bring in cheap labor for big business that the company should then be called upon to take on the role of caring for its workers.   It doesn’t sound fair to be passing on the welfare needs of refugees to the taxpayer so Tyson’s can get cheap labor!

Lots of Burmese refugees are coming to the US.

The United States has been accepting a growing number of Burmese refugees relocating from places such as Malaysia and the Burmese-Thailand border since mid-2006.

No kidding!  The 50,000th (worldwide) Burmese refugee was recently resettled in financially strapped Camden, NJ, here.   Update July 8th:  We have taken over 40,000 of these Burmese refugees since 2002, here.

LOL!  I’m betting Tyson’s is going to like the mostly Christian Burmese a whole lot better then the demanding Muslim Somalis and their campaign to disrupt meat packing plants with complaints about religious accommodation.   I predict, we will soon have more and more unemployed Somalis—great huh!