If the only article you ever read about Grand Island, Nebraska and refugees is this one, you might think that everything was going smoothly in this refugee resettlement target city.
So, before you read the article (yesterday) from The Independent, go back and first read this 2010 post about a Los Angeles Times report where the Grand Island police chief says of his city—-it is chaotic anarchy among all the ethnic groups.*
Grand Island is also the city where the Somalis bullied the Mayor and attempted to get her to resign over something she said in the New York Times, here.
I had forgotten how much I’ve written about Grand Island, just type it into our search function and see that we have several pages of posts. Or, you might visit our whole category entitled, ‘Greeley/Swift/Somali controversy’ where there are many mentions of Grand Island.
Grand Island’s problems revolve around, what else, meatpacking plants nearby. The Swift plant near Grand Island is one of several that experienced clashes among its various ethnic workers over demands for special treatment by Somalis. They wanted prayer breaks during work hours, others objected.
The article from The Independent today says that more Burmese will be coming to Grand Island. LOL! I suspect they have had enough of the Somalis and food processing giant, Swift, wants some more docile immigrant workers.
Read the article, but here are some bits of information that might interest you, they did me (emphasis mine).
If the past is any guide, Grand Island may one day be home to Burmese refugees.
That’s because Burma has sent more refugees to Nebraska than any other country during the past five years, said Karen Parde, refugee coordinator for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Parde spoke at a Thursday Lunch and Learn hosted by the Multicultural Coalition of Grand Island.
She said Omaha and Lincoln are Nebraska’s two official resettlement cities, but communities such as Grand Island, Lexington, South Sioux City and others are primary locations for secondary refugee migrants.
Once refugees get established in a city their populations grow as others of their ethnic group move to be near to those who share the same heritage. This is understandable—that they want to be with others like them—but Americans of European heritage aren’t allowed that wish (funny how that works!).
“Once refugees arrive in the United States, they have all the rights you and I do,” said Parde, who noted that the only exception is the right to vote.
One of those rights is the freedom to move to any city in the United States and not remain in the original resettlement city chosen for them, Parde said. As a result, refugees often move to a secondary city to be close to family members. They often move because the secondary city offers a better prospect of finding a job and a better chance of finding less expensive housing.
Looks like our overall refugee numbers will be lower this year. Here they blame it on security checks that are holding the flow down, but I will bet its also because there is little to NO work and much welfare needed for refugees arriving now. Meatpacking labor is probably the only employment around.
Refugees must undergo a security check before they are allowed into the United States, Parde said. Recently, one more security layer was added. Because security checks have expiration dates, some clearances have lapsed because of the time involved in doing the additional security check. Those initial security clearances must then be redone.
As a result, Parde estimated that between 60,000 and 65,000 refugees will enter the United States this year, even though 80,000 is the approved number.
Nebraska typically agrees to take about 720 immigrants annually, but Parde said it has agreed to take up to 800 refugees in a year. She said the decision to raise the number has been a balancing act, especially when the state economy has slowed.
Yes, here it is, it’s taking a long time for refugees to find work.
She said the primary temporary assistance is a Cash and Medical Assistance program that refugees can receive for up to eight months. However, the expectation is that refugees will find a job within 30 to 90 days.
Parde told The Independent that Nebraska refugees had easily been meeting that goal until the economy slowed. Most refugees continue to find jobs, but now it is often taking five, six or seven months.
Many refugees come with no knowledge of modern amenities.
As a result, when they arrive in the United States, they have almost no knowledge of modern life, including knowing anything about electricity, refrigerating food or modern sanitation, Parde said.
And, now, here is the only thing in the whole article that would tell readers that everything is not copacetic in Grand Island. Some of the Somalis don’t like each other. Where have we heard that before?
While Americans may think of all people from the same country as being the same, refugees see distinctions, Parde said. Somali refugees will divide themselves into what she described as “Somali Bantu” and “Somali Somali.” She said the Bantus, an ethnic minority in Somalia, are considered to be of a lower social class by “Somali Somalis.” Bantus have sometimes been mistreated by Somalis.
*It’s been over 30 years since I’ve had the pleasure of watching the spectacular sandhill crane migration on the Platte River near Grand Island, it makes me sad to read about how different this heartland town must be now.