What do Garden City, KS and Ft. Morgan, CO have in common?

And, Greeley, CO and Shelbyville, TN?   If you said lots of refugees and immigrants and meatpacking you would be right.  But, also lousy immigrant drivers are reported in each community as well.   When one reads these stories from several cities, one wonders how on earth are they passing driving tests?

Yesterday I told you about Garden City, KS and the large immigrant population it is struggling with, but there was another article in the Garden City Telegram about the problems with Burmese refugees not knowing how to drive.

A developing pattern of parking accidents at a local apartment complex has raised some concerns for some area community members, including one landlord.

Steve Burgess, the property owner of Garden Spot Rentals, 305 W. Mary St., said since 2005 there have been about 15 incidents in which tenants have crashed into his rental property while attempting to park or leave the parking lot.

Ten or 11 similar incidents over the last two years have involved members of Burmese families, many of which have formed a community at the complex, Burgess said.

In the latest incident Sunday, one of Burgess’ tenants, Ya Sin, 33, 305 W. Mary St., Apt. C7, drove a van into a bench in front of his residence on which his 9-year-old son was seated. Officials from the Garden City Police Department who responded to the accident reported that Sin accidently hit the gas instead of the brake, Sgt. Michael Reagle of the GCPD said. The 9-year-old suffered only minor scrapes from the incident, and Burgess has not yet assessed property damage.

However, Burgess said his concern about his and other tenants’ safety is growing.

In Garden City refugees can get “free” (not really free, you the taxpayer pay for them) drivers classes.

Free drivers’ education courses are available at the Refugee Center at the Garden City Community College’s Adult Learning Center, said Velia Mendoza, a refugee coordinator. However, because of limited resources, classes run on a rolling basis dependent on student needs and are capped at 10 students, she said.

In Fort Morgan the subject of lousy Somali drivers was discussed in an article in the Ft. Morgan Times on June 11th.  I had meant to post on it then, but it drifted to the bottom of my stack and now I’m sorry (it is for sale only).   The title of the article is “Agencies eye Somali driver training” (if you would like to buy it) and came in the wake of a fatal car accident earlier in the month involving a Somali driver.   The summary begins:

The Fort Morgan Police Department, the Somali Community Office and Lutheran Family Services of Colorado are all looking at ways to improve driver education for refugees who come to Morgan County.

There has been mounting community concern over the number of accidents, both large and small, in which Somalis have been involved over the past few months, said Fort Morgan Police Chief Keith Kuretich.

The points in that article that interested me were:   a suggestion that more taxpayer funded grants were needed for driver training for refugees and that there was a hint that refugee drivers were fraudulently passing the driving tests when interpretors helped them cheat.

We have heard basically the same story from Greeley, CO and Shelbyville, TN in recent months.

Reform idea!  Let the big meatpackers pay for driver education for the low-wage laborers they recruit, and make sure immigrants aren’t cheating on the driving tests.  Think about it,  Tyson’s Food, Swift & Co, and Cargill get to keep wages low with the help of the US State Department and the volag government contractors  who bring them legal immigrant labor, while the taxpayers pick up other expenses these “cheap” workers have—English lessons (if they bother to take them), food stamps, subsidized housing, health care and even driving lessons!

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