Update February 17th: US Justice Department funding behind this project, here.
Update February 9th: Newspaper editor tells the truth about Lewiston, here.
You have got to be laughing if you have been a regular reader of Refugee Resettlement Watch. The Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence* in Portland, ME is taking its wonderful example of how Somalis have come to live and be accepted in Lewiston to four other cities in the US.
Yes, Lewiston! where thousands of Somalis looking for the best welfare state in the Nation arrived in the city a few years ago. Lewiston! where we only last month heard about roving gangs of Somali youths tormenting people on the streets. Lewiston! where a Somali woman just a few weeks ago became impatient in a line of vehicles dropping kids off at Lewiston High School and ran over a young student with her Mercedes. Lewiston! where Somalis were arrested by the feds for allegedly running a home health care fraud! And, here is another case of a conviction for welfare fraud there. Lewiston! where last spring Newsweek did a puff piece article and the town fathers had to come back and say it was not accurate. That same Lewiston is going to be the model for four troubled cities!
Here is the story from the Sun Journal yesterday:
LEWISTON — How the Lewiston-Auburn community reacted to snuff out prejudice against local Somalis in 2006 makes it a leader in the nation, said Steve Wessler, executive director of the Center for Preventing Hate.
There’s still more work to do, but Lewiston handled it so well that lessons learned here will be shared with cities throughout the country, Wessler said.
He spoke Friday at a daylong conference titled Advice for America: What Lewiston-Auburn has Learned Since 2000 about Fostering Relationships Between Residents and Newcomers. The event was held at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College
We’re here to share and celebrate, share the experiences of what has worked, what has helped change the community,” Wessler said. “Where there was a lot of diversity is now a model for cities elsewhere.”
Shortly after a man rolled a pig’s head into a Somali mosque in downtown Lewiston in 2006 — an event that attracted national and international press — “we did interviews with dozens of people, Somali- and American-born, to get a sense of the community,” Wessler said. “What we found was sobering.”
Almost every Somali girl and woman offered examples of hate and violence directed at them as they walked on streets or shopped in grocery stores.
“That’s not a Lewiston-Auburn phenomenon; that’s a national phenomenon,” Wessler said.
Communities with immigrant populations must reflect and decide they can do better, he said, adding that Lewiston-Auburn did that.
So, where are they taking their Lewiston model? Other cities in strife!
His group will spend the next three years on The New Migration Project [must be some federal grant], working in cities in strife after immigrants have moved in. Those communities include Boise, Idaho; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Frederick, Md.; and Manchester, N.H. That will be followed up with a national conference in Lewiston later this year.
Boise, ID, Fort Wayne, IN, and Manchester, NH are all overloaded refugee resettlement cities that we have discussed many many times on these pages. But, Frederick, MD! Frederick, MD! That is the county just east of where we live and we have been told over and over again that everything is hunky-dory with refugees in Frederick. So what is going on there that is not being reported in the media? I’ll be checking with my political contacts and try to get to the bottom of that!
Lightbulbs flashing! I bet this is one more attack on Frederick County for its use of the 287g program that allows the local sheriff to deport illegal aliens. Frederick is the only county in Maryland with the guts to implement the program and I think that including Frederick in this four-city example of implied racism is a political move to embarrass the city.
*Check out the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence’s most recent Form 990 and note that most of their funding is from government contracts and most of the money goes out to salaries. Then be sure to see their “resources” page with links to groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center (some call it the poverty palace).