Moore County Welcomes Newcomers - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Moore County Welcomes Newcomers

Moore County is making some unexpected changes, after hundreds of foreign workers fill up the job spots at Swift & Company beef processing plant.

Immigration raids back in 2006 left the Swift plant with more than 300 job openings to fill. Federal agents arrested 297 workers on immigration violations and force hundred more fleeing the community in fear.

New workers are making their way back to the Cactus plant. Refugee workers, all the way from Burma are filling those employment gaps. Some Burmese came with family and others alone, but all of them searching for something better. Burmese worker, ZuneMay Oo say she is excited about the opportunities here people have in Moore County, "It's good for my people. That's why I told them I can bring my people". Another worker Pa Shao is setting big goals for his future in America. "I hope here to go to school. Some of my friends are interested in school," Shao explains.

That's one reason Imelda Maldonado has stepped up to help. "There is a civil war going on. It's not safe to stay there. A lot of them came here because we have jobs. That's what and the Swift company has assisted them," she says.

Swift, along with others in the community say they're doing what they can so the transition goes well for everyone. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union , Local 540 is assisting Swift and the workers unite. Union Steward Oscar Treino says the Burmese ar hard workers, "There's alot of people saying they're here trying to take their jobs, but that's not true. A lot of people go out to Swift and don't stay".

Even local residents have adjusted with the newcomers. Resident Matt Rehkopf says,  "If they're going to come work and do the job..that's OK with me. They're doing a lot of jobs people don't want to do.

For the Burmese they're just grateful for the opportunity... "In America it is safe. We can walk,rest... future is good," Pa Shao says.

Since the Burmese have started work at Swift, production has more than doubled at the plant.   the hired refugees were brough in by the company on U.S. Special visas. The workers are able to stay in Moore county as long as the government grants their visa.

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