From time to time I’ve posted stories on refugee resettlement offices closing due to the fact that fewer refugees (aka paying clients) are now arriving in the US (see post yesterday with latest numbers), but I don’t post all of them.
This one caught my eye because I have written many times over the years about Garden City, Kansas and its Tyson Foods plant that has attracted cheap immigrant labor for years.
Rarely do you see such a direct connection drawn between “slaughterhouse” jobs and the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).
This time it is the giant International Rescue Committee closing its doors in GC, while its CEO (a British national based in Manhattan) pulls down a salary in excess of $600,000 a year (here).
Changing the heartland, one meatpacker at a time should be the USRAP’s motto!
From KCUR 89.3:
A humanitarian [ha!ha!—ed] group that helps refugees settle in western Kansas among plentiful slaughterhouse jobs is shutting down its office in the region amid changing rules that welcome fewer newcomers to the country and the state.
The International Rescue Committee, or IRC, says a falling number of refugees prompted the agency’s plans to shutter its Garden City office at the end of September.
Kansas took in 580 refugees in the 12-month period that ended Sept. 30, compared to 914 the year before. IRC officials said they expect the drop-off to look even more dramatic this year.
That trend reflects tightening U.S. State Department guidelines that make it harder for refugees to seek sanctuary in the United States.
In addition, a State Department spokeswoman said that in December the department told resettlement agencies it would withdraw funding from sites that take on fewer than one hundred refugees each year. The federal government gives those local agencies about $2,100 for each refugee.
This next bit was news to me. I had no idea local hospitals were carrying some of the refugee care load jointly with a federal resettlement contractor! Why isn’t Tyson Foods taking care of the needs of its workers?
Many refugees in western Kansas turn to Kearny County Hospital in Lakin, Kansas, for health and social services. The hospital, in turn, depends on the IRC to take care of essential services such as food, housing, education and job placement, said hospital CEO Benjamin Anderson.
Anderson said the IRC plays the primary role for helping refugees in the area, and when the organization’s Garden City office closes, his hospital may have to take over some of its services.
Garden City is home to many refugees, including a large Somali community, which was the target of an alleged bomb plot last year. That incident and it’s upcoming trial in March have brought renewed attention to the city’s wide range of immigrants — a portion of whom are refugees — from Mexico, South America and Africa. In the local school district, for example, English is a second language for nearly half the students.
So who is paying for refugee support services so that Tyson Foods has a ready supply of cheap labor—local taxpayers!
But, don’t get too excited about a possible slowdown of needy people arriving in Garden City because we expect to hear that Tyson Foods will bus in migrants from other places to satisfy their desire for “slaughterhouse” workers.
Hey, I’ve been referring to them in a more sanitized way—meatpackers—I like this more descriptive word—slaughterhouse!
See my previous posts on Garden City, KS by clicking here.