More confirmation that NGOs work with big meat packers

Hauling Somalis from city to city

I really didn’t need more confirmation, but Allahsoldier commenting at my earlier post, said that he couldn’t wait for another story on Somalis.  I said I could find and post another pronto.  It took me all of about 5 minutes from answering Allah… to get this post started!   And, what a coincidence it’s about Somalis in Kansas as was my post this morning.

A report from Kansas State University about the work of, Laszlo Kulcsar, a sociolgy professor working on immigrant integration:*

“I started out looking at how predominantly white communities, even with some historical diversity, embraced new immigrant workers,” Kulcsar said. “This is a big deal in Kansas because there really isn’t a universal practice for that. What was found was that there is no good model, just more questions.”

Along with Albert Iaroi, K-State doctoral student in sociology from Romania, Kulcsar also looked at Emporia, a city away from the meatpacking triangle in southwest Kansas but also with a large concentration of minority workers.

“Emporia has a well-established Hispanic community already because they came to work on the railroad 100 years ago,” Kulcsar said. “In 2006, though, Tyson brought about 700 Somalis to Emporia to work at its meatpacking plant.”

With the Somalis came a new culture and religion, vastly different from that of the Hispanics, the dominant minority at the time.

Despite the fact that all the Somali workers carried legal work permits, researchers found many in the community rejected these new workers because of their outsider culture. At the same time they began to view the Mexicans as regular, hardworking people.

“It started to become ‘good immigrants’ versus ‘bad immigrants’ based on visible things like skin color, dress and religious practices,” Kulcsar said. “Somalis are black; they are Muslim. The Mexicans, even though they have a different culture and language, are still Christians.”

There was also the difference in customs, Kulcsar said. The Somalis traveled in large groups, a customary practice in their country due to safety. Although women hold positions of authority in Emporia, the Somali workers often did not obey them since only men in Somalia are authority figures.

“Nobody told the Somalis you don’t do these things in America, and nobody told the local government about their customs and religion in advance, so nobody told the community members. The question became, ‘whose job is it to educate the refugees and community,'” Kulcsar said. “This was a troubling finding because these larger actors — corporations and nongovernmental charity organizations playing an important part in the settlement of the Somalis — failed to communicate with the city government.”

As community members in Emporia questioned the city’s role in this process, they found they were given no advance information about it, Kulcsar said.

Here it is, big meat packers helped by outside organizations!  

This below can only refer to federal contractors like the Leftwing do-gooders at Catholic Charities, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, and Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society among others.

“Immigrants are not showing up for work in a random fashion; in many cases national organizations are working with large corporations to bring these people here for jobs,” Kulcsar said.

For new readers we followed the whole controversy almost from start to finish a couple of years ago in Emporia, KS and have a whole category on it here.

* Reader Khadra, commenting on another Somali “village” in Kansas tells us Somalis have no intention of integrating, assimilating, or whatever we want to call it, here.

Somalis move with meatpacking jobs, leave towns in a lurch

Your tax dollars:

If you are a longtime reader of RRW, you will remember how Emporia, KS struggled with a flood of Somali refugees who came to town for jobs at the local Tyson’s meatpacking plant.   Fort Morgan, CO, take note.

In an effort to do good by all the refugees who had no education and didn’t speak English, a program was set up at the local community college to give free classes to help them advance their education.  Then Tyson’s pulled the plug on the plant and moved its Somali (mostly illegal as we learned yesterday) workforce to another unsuspecting town.   The taxpayers are left holding the bag for this program as well as an expansion of the local health department.  I bet they had also hired extra ESL teachers for the public elementary and high schools.

From the Emporia Gazette (Hat tip: Bluelitespecial):

One response the program had was to develop a pre-GED Adult Beginning Education class. “We knew that they were going to leave us, but we wanted them to leave us with very specific, transferable job skills,” Ortiz [Kelsey Ortiz the programs director] said. “We actually have two new computer labs that are up and running” for the office skills emphasis of the program. “… The whole idea is, we want you to leave knowing that you’re a lifelong learner and that you have skills that you can use in whatever you want to use.”

According to grant projections, the program is trying to enroll 320 participants for Fiscal Year 2009, with 221 of them advancing one educational level within one year of study. In FY 2008 there were 106 students, “and right now we’re down to about 76,” Ortiz said, a drop of 29 percent. “Some of that is just that we’re in a rebuilding phase over the last two years because of what’s happened” with the Somali workers who left after the Tyson closing. According to Ortiz, the program lost 70 to 100 Somali students.

I have a reform idea.  How about all these meatpackers and other big businesses that are bringing in cheap foreign labor be required to educate them right at the facility at the companies expense.

For background on Emporia, KS see our category on that town here.

Getting caught in Kansas, and Candy—you go girl!

Here is a story we wrote about back in April.  It seems that this Kansas city has one problem after another with immigrants.  First, Emporia had to deal with a roiled citizenry over Tyson’s Food hauling Somali refugees to the city and then closing the plant. (See our whole category on Emporia here).  And, now it turns out that imported Filipino workers were hired illegally for a construction project in the same city.

Although the Filipino ruckus did not involve refugees, it just demonstrates again points we have made recently about the public making no distinction between legal refugees and other immigrants (legal and illegal) when they see the connection to foreign worker hiring practices that allow companies to avoid paying for American workers.

Here is the gist of the story today from the Emporia Gazette:

The subcontractor that supplied unauthorized foreign workers for the construction of the Emporia Energy Center apologized to Sen. Jim Barnett and citizens of Emporia in a letter sent to Barnett late last week.

Integrated Service Company, a Tulsa, Okla.-based company also known as InServ, said “an unintentional error” was responsible for the employment of Filipino welders and pipefitters during the construction of the Westar Energy peaking plant. The Filipinos were in the United States on H-2B work visas, which allow them to fill jobs for which there are an insufficient number of American workers.

In order to properly certify the workers for the Westar project, InServ would have needed to notify the Kansas Department of Commerce, which is federally required to verify that not enough American workers are available to fill the jobs. That notification never took place. InServ was a subcontractor for Overland Contracting, a subsidiary of Black & Veatch, which contracted with Westar for the plant construction.

And, now here is the good part! 

Rep. Candy Ruff, D-Leavenworth, began an inquiry into the Westar worker situation in March and had been exploring whether federal action can be taken against InServ, Black & Veatch or Westar. Ruff, who is completing her last term in the Kansas Legislature, said that when companies like InServ are exposed for illegal hiring practices, they go to great lengths to cover their tracks.

“Now, do I trust those bastards? Not in a New York minute do I trust ’em,” Ruff said before being sent a copy of Donaldson’s letter. “Because I think that, although they’ve gotten kind of their (expletive) in a ringer right now with the kind of things that they have been exposed to having been done, same (expletive), different day — they just got caught in Kansas. …

“This is all about making money off cheap labor, and I don’t think that’s gonna stop anytime soon. I really don’t.”

Barnett said the immigration laws that require businesses to employ legal workers should have teeth.

“If laws have been broken, then, like everyone else, there should be appropriate consequences,” he said.


I love you Kansans!

Shelbyville, Emporia, Richmond (oops Roanoke), Helsinki, it’s the same story

Thanks to reader ‘Bill’ who has set me straight and it’s not Richmond, it’s Roanoke!

What a coincidence that this story should pop up the day after we reported the conflicts on-going in Richmond Roanoke between Somali refugees and local black American citizens.   This story is from Finland. 

A Finnish family complained that an immigrant family in the apartment below them was playing music too loud. The immigrants denied the accusation: they said that as devout Muslims they do not even listen to music.

The Finnish mother had tried to approach the immigrant family to discuss about the noise, but the approach was perceived as a racist attack. 

In Finland they think they have the problem solved with mediation.  

The conflict concerning noise, which was mediated by Mohamed, was resolved when it was noted that the sound insulation in the building was inadequate, and should be upgraded in connection with an upcoming refurbishment. It also came out that the sound that the upstairs neighbours had heard was from the reading of the Koran.

Blame the building owners and, oh, it was only the Koran reading that was making so much noise.  So, it looks like everyone is happy, make the landlord put money into the building and let the loud Koran reading proceeed. 

Finnish Refugee Council coordinator Terhi Joensuu says that the disputes have often been connected with the use of common facilities, such as saunas and laundry rooms, children in the playground, and annoyance caused by differing customs.

Yes, that is what we heard in Richmond  Roanoke too, common room problems and kids playing (I wonder if spitting is going on in Finland too as it did in Emporia and now Richmond Roanoke?) 

In the Helsinki region, in Turku, and the Tampere area, most of the dozens of disputes in which mediation has been applied, has led to a positive result. “We have had good experiences”, Joensuu emphasises.

Mohamed says that many of the conflicts result from the fact that immigrants do not know the rules of living in Finland. It might be unclear for some of them what the requirement of silence in the evening really means, and how waste should be sorted for recycling.

“Finns assume that once information has been posted about rules, they will be known, but for Somalis, for instance, an oral message is more valuable than a written one”, Mohamed observes.

Didn’t I see that in Shelbyville there was an attempt to discuss the problems in an apartment building verbally?   And, in this story the Finnish mother did try to talk to her neighbors but was called a racist. 

Immigrants often accuse Finns of racism. “It can be true, but can also come from a misunderstanding”, Mohamed points out.

Richmond   Roanoke  had nothing to do with racism. 

In many cases cultural differences have nothing to do with the problem. People are simply individuals, and those coming from the same background can have completely different interpretations of their own culture. Neighbourhood mediators have also arbitrated in a number of disputes between native-born Finns.

Cultural factors could be one reason why Somalis, for instance, are often eager to take part in a mediation effort. Mohamed says that similar methods of conflict resolution are the tradition in Somalia.

“Mediation is something that Finns should learn from immigrants.”

I guess mediation means the Finns have to change their culture to fit the immigrants.

If you are a regular reader of RRW, this is a quiz.   What is the common thread in these stories and who do you think needs to do the changing?

Emporia, KS has more immigrant issues cooking

Emporia, KS was embroiled in the Somali refugee issue for months (see our whole category here), now comes news that workers brought in to do welding and other work on the construction of an energy plant may have been here illegally.  One hundred Filipino workers have headed who knows where, to a town near you maybe, after the whistle was blown.  Hat tip:  Bluelitespecial. 

I guess some cities just can’t get a break!

This brings to mind a point I’ll make in the next post too.  I cringe now when I hear people say, I’m fine with legal immigration it’s the illegal that I have a problem with.   Bottomline, all immigration needs to be reformed in the United States.   Ostensibly these workers were here legally, until someone thought to check it out.   If we have a shortage of welders in the US, why aren’t we making a push to get more young people into welding and pay them well?

Check out the latest from Emporia here.

This story reminds me of the 100 Nepalese workers missing in Alabama last winter.  I wonder if they were ever found?