Here is one more in a long list of stories about how meatpackers are changing communities as the US State Department sends them LEGAL immigrant labor through the Refugee Resettlement Program among others.
In 2007 we told you about the controversy in Emporia, Kansas when hundreds of Somalis arrived to work for Tyson’s Meat and because there was such an uproar we created a whole category on the subject. Whether it’s chicken processors in Kentucky, Minnesota and Tennessee or beef in Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas or Kansas, refugees are supplying labor for jobs that Americans used to do (for a higher wage!). I don’t know when it started but we had this early story about Bill Clinton’s Administration supplying Iowa meat processors with Bosnian refugee labor, and now it seems to be standard operating procedure. This is another example of “corporatism” where certain big businesses work hand-in-glove with government to get what they need. It is a way of limiting competition because smaller businesses cannot compete (in addition to padding the pockets of the big businesses).
So back to how the federal government and big businesses are changing communities like Dodge City, KS.
From the Garden City Telegram:
A local African grocery store is on Wyatt Earp Boulevard. Plus, in a nondescript strip mall east of town there is an unmarked mosque. These are also important gathering places for the roughly 200 Somalis sinking their roots into this western Kansas community.
About two dozen countries are represented at Cargill’s Dodge City plant, said Jay Harrison, human resources manager. The company flies the flags of all the nations (Sudan, Burma, Cuba …) in its entryway. Some employees come on work visas, others with special refugee papers, all starting at $12.90 an hour, on the killing or harvesting floors in the plant.
About 200 of the 2,600 employees are from Somalia. They have been arriving since August 2007. One of the attractions for the Somalian workers is the plant’s willingness to work with those who are of the Muslim faith. As Muslims, they are required to pray five times a day, with three of those times taking place at work.
Dodge City may now need a “cultural relations advisory board!”
There are myriad cultures represented in the community, says Jane Longmeyer, director of public information for Dodge City. For several years, representatives from different entities have been meeting to find ways to help foreign arrivals make a smooth transition.
“They were experiencing language barriers and some other challenges; we came together to see how to get them acclimated into the community,” she said.
Meeting about four times a year, city and religious leaders, law enforcement and any interested citizens helped the refugee groups assimilate. Making changes such as placing translators in the schools and courts and training local leaders in cultural awareness on the various backgrounds and customs allowed the community leaders to better help their new residents, Longmeyer said.
“We need to find a way to include all of them in the community; consequently we’re looking at organizing a cultural relations advisory board,” she said.
Then here we go again about Somalis not being able to drive! I have heard this complaint from Shelbyville, TN to Ft. Morgan, CO. Really what is up with this? Would one of our Somali readers please inform us about why Somalis are rotten drivers. They seem fairly smart to me, so why can’t they drive? The only thing one can conclude is that they object to following the law, that somehow they think they are above it.
Everything is good in their new community, he (Somali leader and taxi driver) said, except the Somalian people are getting too many tickets from the police, he said.
“The high price of the traffic tickets, sometimes $200, really hurts when they have to pay rent and send money home,” Guled said.
Dodge City’s police chief, Robin James, said the problem is cultural, not a matter of police profiling a certain race.
While the Somalians might perceive they are being targeted, that’s not the case, James said. They come from a country that has no traffic enforcement to Dodge City, where it is taken seriously, he said.
New to the community himself, James plans to offer police academies for specific immigration populations in Dodge City, to explain why U.S. motor vehicle safety is taken seriously.
“We will educate these folks that if they comply with the laws they will never get stopped,” James said. “Make sure your equipment is working, and educate them to American policing procedures. This will go a long way to dispelling the perceptions that they are being picked on. We’ll never get to a document question if you don’t get stopped.”
For new readers, more Somalis are on the way:
The US State Department has admitted over 80,000 Somali refugees to the US (this linked post continues to be one of the most widely read posts we have ever written) in the last 25 years and then in 2008 had to suspend family reunification because widespread immigration fraud was revealed through DNA testing. That specific program has not yet been reopened (that we know of), but will be soon.
Nevertheless, thousands of Somali Muslims continue to be resettled by the State Department as I write this. We recently learned that we will be taking 6000 Somalis this year from one camp in Uganda and as many as 11,000-13,000 total from around the world.
Through the Refugee Resettlement program alone 2141 legal Somalis have already arrived in this fiscal year (2010) as of April 30th with an unknown number arriving through other legal programs and illegally across both our borders.
Be sure also to read this Comment Worth Noting from a Somali woman who refers to the Somali influx as an “invasion” and says they have no plans to assimilate.
Somalis disturbingly call their immigration to certain countries or cities as “invasions” and they call cities with no or little Somali populations as “Tuulas” or “villages”….
Is Dodge City in the Tuula stage? Or beyond?