Another Muslim enclave in the U.S. See our growing list on the lower left sidebar.
LIBERAL, Kansas — First a stream of newcomers started renting ramshackle homes by the train tracks, and then a two-room mosque opened on a nearby street corner, and then an African grocery store took the space of what had once been a used car lot.
And then, one day early last year, a bus pulled up to the Greyhound station and out came the latest arrival to the growing neighborhood known as “Little Somalia.” Mohamed Ahmed, 23, held one suitcase and clutched a plastic bag with migration documents — the evidence of a trek in which he’d fled warring Somalia as a young child, lost his father and spent years living with the remainder of his family under a United Nations tent in the Kenyan desert. His journey to America had been nearly two decades in the making, and now he was coming to its heartland — as were thousands of other Somali refugees — to take a grisly job that few others in his new country wanted to take.
When National Beef opened in Liberal 1970, the local newspaper said managers were already doing “extensive” recruiting, bringing in workers from 1,000 miles away. Some Vietnamese came first. Then came a flood of Hispanics, a change that turned Liberal’s Seward County into one of the most diverse tracts in the country. Taquerias and carnicerias opened in strip malls south of town. The local high school became majority-Hispanic. A second-generation Mexican-American won a spot on the previously all-white city commission.
On a single day in 2006, agents in flak jackets descended on six plants across the Midwest belonging to rival meatpacker Swift, sweeping up 1,300 workers. Less than two years later, in another raid on the country’s largest kosher meat slaughterhouse, in Iowa, it wasn’t just the workers that were arrested; it was the managers. “That scared the hell out of every HR director in the country,” said meat-industry expert Mark Grey, the director of the Iowa Center for Immigrant Leadership and Integration at the University of Northern Iowa.
After the 2006 raids, Swift began busing in Somalis and Burmese to one of their rural Texas plants from a nearby city, Amarillo. Other meat processing companies that hired Somalis offered them small bonuses for referrals. At some plants, refugees from Burma and Sudan also found jobs.
The company, in a statement, said that it did not track data on employees based on “country of origin,” but said that it welcomes “individuals of any nationality who are legally able to work in the United States.” Other meat towns that have attracted Somalis include Lexington, Neb.; Noel, Mo.; Garden City, Kan.; and Fort Morgan, Colo.
The shift has transformed not all of Liberal, but rather just a few neighborhood blocks that most days sat almost silent, other than workers coming and going. A few residents of Liberal felt scared that the “next beheading or terrorist attack will happen right here,” the mayor, Joe Denoyer, said in an interview. But mostly, they viewed the Somalis as a mystery, sealed off from everybody else.
The Somalis didn’t buy homes. They didn’t come to town meetings. They didn’t show up at restaurants. The community was seen en masse only on weekends, filing into a small mosque — “Mosque of Liberal,” was written in pencil at the entrance — where the imam was a 23-year-old, Yusuf Hussen. He also worked on the National Beef packaging line.
Ahmed knew one other friend who had a job lead, and on the 15th day of waiting, he decided to follow it. He packed his bags again and called his mom just before hitting the road. He told her his destination was Aberdeen, S.D., where another company was hiring.
“Don’t worry too much,” he told his mom.
The company was called DemKota Ranch Beef, a packing plant.
This was a very long, dull puff piece on Somali Muslim refugees by the Washington Post. They can’t seem to muster up similar resources to investigate the mosques that recruit these same Muslim refugees.
Thank the meat packing businesses – Swift, National Beef and Demkota Ranch Beef – who have been instrumental in Islamizing the United States. Six other Muslim refugee enclaves listed in the article:
- Lexington, Nebraska
- Noel, Missouri
- Garden City, Kansas – as we noted years ago, Where women in burqas stroll down Normal Rockwell Main Street
- Fort Morgan, Colorado – covered several times here
- Aberdeen, South Dakota – Lutheran Social Services Populating Aberdeen With Muslim Refugees
- Amarillo, Texas – more here