Obama’s “call to action”??? More like the Fundamental Transformation of America that he promised back in 2008.
President Obama issued a “call to action” Thursday for corporate America to hire more foreign refugees but one prominent company was already ahead of the curve.
Chobani, owned by a Turkish Muslim immigrant, has already filled 30 percent of its 600 positions at the world’s largest Yogurt plant in Twin Falls, Idaho, with refugees resettled in America through a U.S. State Department program carried out in cooperation with the United Nations.
This comes at a time when Twin Falls is embroiled in a firestorm of controversy involving an alleged sexual assault of a 5-year-old special-needs girl by refugee boys from Sudan and Iraq. The city’s mayor, Shawn Barigar, called for calm in the community and lectured his residents at a Monday city council meeting that they should not spread a “false narrative” about the case that he accused Internet bloggers and others of creating.
WND has learned that Barigar was instrumental in recruiting Chobani to Twin Falls back in 2011, and he now plays a dual role of elected official and president/CEO of the local Chamber of Commerce.
Barigar, a Democrat, has been in leadership roles with the Chamber for 11 years. During that time he has also served two stints on the city council, with a gap between January 2008 and January 2012 in which he was not part of the city government.
It was during that gap, but while he was running for office in 2011, that he was busy working to lure Chobani to Twin Falls.
“I was a member of the recruitment team that recruited Chobani to Twin Falls in 2011,” Barigar told WND in a phone interview Thursday.
Barigar was elected to the City Council in November of 2011 and took office in January 2012. He’d already served a previous term on the council from 2004 through 2007.
Barigar, whom the council selected as mayor in January, said he does not see his dual roles of mayor and Chamber CEO as potentially a conflict of interests.
“I do not see it as a conflict of interest nor have the voters who elected me three times to the city council,” he said. “The mayor is selected every two years by the council, so I was not the mayor during the Chobani recruitment nor was I on the council.
“We did the ground breaking in December 2011,” he added, which would have been after he was elected in November but just before he officially took office in January.
Ann Corcoran, author of the Refugee Resettlement Watch blog, said the potential conflict of interest is disturbing and should be questioned by Twin Falls residents.
“Twin Falls is really a microcosm of what we find going on in so many of the refugee communities across the U.S., where you have people moving in and out of government and the Chamber of Commerce with a vested interest in making sure a meatpacking plant or some other industry has continuous access to refugee labor,” said Corcoran. “Only in this case we have a blatant example of conflicts of interest by an elected official who is also the head of the Chamber enticing companies to come in and make use of the steady influx of cheap, overseas labor.
“These are jobs that Americans would be happy to fill but they are forced to compete now with someone from Sudan or Iraq who is used to working for a dollar a week.”
The local Muslim community in Twin Falls grew out of its mosque and built a new, much larger house of worship last year.
Twin Falls resident Vicky Davis commented in a blog post that Mayor Barigar recently attended a “Refugee Welcoming” meeting sponsored by the pro-immigrant Partnership for a New American Economy but it was unclear which “hat” he was wearing at this meeting.
“Barigar is both the president of the Chamber of Commerce in Twin Falls as well as the mayor,” Davis wrote. “It’s not clear in what capacity he attended the Refugee Welcoming group’s meeting. The city should buy him two hats – one for each of his two faces so we can identify who he is representing at any given moment.”
Meanwhile the criminal case against the three migrant boys in Twin Falls has been sealed by a judge.
Local resident Eric Odell spoke at the city council’s June 20 meeting and said he had many Muslim refugees working under him when he was a shift leader at the Chobani plant in Twin Falls, and that while most of them were great people, “a few were evil or frightening,” the Times-News reported.
Bloomberg News reported Thursday that Goldman Sachs is heading up a massive support program for refugee resettlement, joined by United Parcel Service, HP Inc., MasterCard, IBM and Google, all of which have pledged to provide either jobs, cash or free services to refugees. The Obama State Department is distributing 85,000 refugees into more than 190 U.S. cities and towns in fiscal 2016, followed by 100,000 in fiscal 2017, which begins Oct. 1
The White House is leaning on companies to commit money and other assistance to resettlement programs ahead of a global refugee summit Obama will host Sept. 20 at the United Nations.
Federal ‘contractors’ see dollar signs
The State Department works through nine federal resettlement contractors that includes the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Episcopal Migration Ministries, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Church World Services, World Relief (an arm of the National Association of Evangelicals), the International Rescue Committee, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, and the Ethiopian Community Development Council.
These volunteer agencies or VOLAGs have between 50 and 95 percent of their budgets funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars and are paid by the head for every refugee they resettle in the U.S. Their CEOs all make six-figure incomes with some bringing home as much as $500,000 per year.
Nearly 2,400 refugees sent to Twin Falls since 9/11
A quick search of the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center database shows more than 2,340 refugees from more than a dozen countries have been resettled in Twin Falls since January 2002.
Since that time, 161 refugees have come to Twin Falls from Sudan, 377 from Iraq, 280 from Iran, 241 from Russia, 70 from Afghanistan, 642 from Bhutan, 68 from Bosnia, 54 from Burundi, 146 from Democratic Republic of Congo, 238 from Eritrea, 32 from Azerbaijan, and 21 from Ethiopia.
Twin Falls is one of more than a dozen areas around the country that is experiencing major pushback against the resettlement of refugees, especially from hotbeds of jihadist activity such as Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. So-called “pockets of resistance” have also organized in Amarillo, Texas; St. Cloud, Minnesota; Rutland, Vermont; Missoula, Montana; Fargo, North Dakota; in parts of Michigan, South Carolina and Tennessee.
The controversy surrounding an alleged sexual assault in Twin Falls has been raging for more than two weeks. The assault took place June 2 in the laundry room of the Fawnbrook Apartments but was kept secret by police and given no media coverage until citizen activists complained about a police “cover up” at a Twin Falls City Council meeting on June 20.
The three suspects from Sudan and Iraq have been evicted, but the Iraqi family is still living next door to the family of the 5-year-old victim.