Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Refugees, Tyson and conflicting information???

J-E Editor
Since the public first became aware of JEM’s proposed apartment complex, a lot of information surrounding the project has made it’s way around the county. From quotes credited to a spokeswoman of the International Center of Kentucky cautioning residents about the health risk of Burmese immigrants, to whether or not Tyson Foods has any official involvement in the project, it seems that there is a lot of conflicting information out there. And a lot has been said about “Burmese Refugees”, while nobody really seems to know a lot about them or what the difference is between a refugee and an immigrant.

The J-E contacted Tyson Foods headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas last week with three question:
1. Was Tyson involved in JEM’s project?
2. Is Tyson bringing Burmese immigrants to Sebree, and if so, how many?
3. Does Tyson Foods provide any training or assistant for immigrants trying to adjust to life in the United States?
The response did not adress the first question at all.
“There is clearly a need for adequate housing in the area,” said Dan Fogleman a Spokesman for Tyson Foods. “We have many people who work for us who drive nearly an hour to work each way. To that end, we believe Mr. Moser’s efforts to build additional housing would provide Tyson Foods team members and other members of the community affordable options and hopefully be a driver for additional economic growth.”
As for the other two questions, Fogleman said “We are constantly looking to hire good people who are willing to work hard. Our team members come from all walks of life, but it’s not uncommon for immigrants to apply for jobs with our company. In situations where a community has a population of immigrants from a particular region of the world and a number of them come to work for us, we do our best to help them adjust to life in their new home town.”
One of the names that has been brought up by several opponents of the apartment complex is that of Kelly Rice with the International Center of Kentucky, based in Bowling Green. Among other claims were reports that Rice had cautioned people that they needed to be concerned about diseases these immigrants might bring.
“That is simply not true,” said Kelly Rice with the International Center of Kentucky. “Several months ago I had a woman contact me concerned about illnesses that her child could catch. I assured her that refugees can’t come over here if they have communicable diseases. But she was adamant about not wanting some industrial development stuff going on in the county.”
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that every refugee must undergo medical examinations to identify persons with inadmissible conditions of public health significance before they are ever allowed enter the United States. The examinations are conducted by panel physicians, who are medically trained, licensed, and experienced in practicing overseas. These doctors are appointed by the local U.S. embassy.
“I think the problem is that people just don’t want refugees coming into their small community,” said Rice. “But they shouldn’t be judgemental. I understand the fear of the unknown. But if you aren’t educated on the unknown, you have no idea what is going on.”
Many residents of the Sebree area have made reference to Burmese immigrants being brought in by Tyson Foods, but not a lot is know about these people by most of the county.
“Burmese” immigrants are actually from the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, which has been the official name of Berma since an election held on May 10, 2008. The country has been under military rule since 1962, during which its fortunes have steadily declined. Today Burma is one of the world’s least developed countries, and hundreds of thousands of people have fled the country in fear of torture and even death.
“They are actually invited here by our government to start a new life,” Rice said. “They had no choice. They were being persecuted in their own country. They should not have to come here and be persecuted too.”
Connie Skinner, ARNP, told Webster County’s Industrial Development Authority (EDITOR'S NOTE - This quote was actually made by Sebree resident Jana Forker, not by Connie Skinner as originally sourced) last week that there had already been at least one case of tuberculosis in the county connected with an immigrant. It was an unknown strain of the virus that local medical personnel weren’t familiar with.
She said that the patient had to be transported elsewhere for adequite treatment.
Skinner also said she contacted the health department and was told that having Burmese immigrants ‘isn’t a good idea’ due to health concerns.
A spokesperson for the Webster County Health Department said they were not aware of this having been said, or that there had been a case of tuberculosis reported, They then requested that any further questions go through the GreenRiver Health Department’s main office.
The director of Green River Health was preparing a written statement, which was no available at press time.
Most Burmese refugees being resettled in the U.S. belong to one of three ethnic minority groups: the Karen, the Karenni, and the Chin. Most Karen and Karenni come from a Buddhist background, although many have reported have converted to Christianity. Most of the Chin come from a Protestant background. A smaller group, known as Rohingya, are historically muslim.
More than 500,000 refugees from Myanmar are in neighboring and nearby countries such as Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and Thailand. 
To be eligible for refugee or asylum status, an applicant must meet the definition of a refugee outlined in 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act: a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality because of fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” 

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