chobani

WASHINGTON – Chobani Yogurt, the world’s largest yogurt company, which relies heavily on imported refugee labor, is investing $20 million to expand its plant in Twin Falls, Idaho.

The company, which employs hundreds of refugees in its factories, has faced national backlash and boycotts over its role in the controversial issue of refugee settlement. The concerns have been well documented by WND and other news organizations, including a Wall Street Journal story headlined “In Aftermath of Terror Attacks, Tensions Rise in Idaho Over Refugee Workers.”

But Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya told the Associated Press he stands by his decision to expand his Greek yogurt company in south-central Idaho, which is reportedly among the states with the highest percentage refugee population.

The $20 million state-of-the-art expansion of the company’s facility in Twin Falls serves as its global research and development center, Ulukaya told the AP last week.

“I hear the conversations here and there, but it’s a peaceful community that we all love,” said Ulukaya. “It’s the home of Chobani.”

Few Americans understand the full extent of their nation’s immigration problem. Get all the details in Leo Hohmann’s “Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest Through Immigration and Resettlement Jihad,” available now in hard copy or e-book at the WND Superstore.

During Thursday’s expansion launch, Idaho’s Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter praised Chobani’s impact on the community.

“This new investment in Twin Falls reflects Chobani’s commitment to Idaho and to the people who have responded so positively to its corporate citizenship,” Otter said in a prepared statement. “Congratulations to all those who are contributing to Chobani’s growth, just as Chobani is contributing to ours.”

Ulukaya, a Kurdish Muslim and immigrant from Turkey, came to the U.S in 1994 to study business. He created his own yogurt recipe and bought a Kraft Foods yogurt plant in central New York state with a loan from the Small Business Administration in 2005.

He operates two plants, one in upstate New York and the other in Twin Falls, Idaho. Both are staffed in part by refugees resettled locally.

As WND reported, Ulukaya made a pitch for more refugees to be hired by corporate America at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2016. He urged CEOs there to join his campaign to throw corporate cash, lobbying initiatives, services and jobs to refugees. Six companies subsequently agreed after to hire more refugees or provide free services to them: Ikea, MasterCard, Airbnb, LinkedIn, Western Union and UPS.

Ulukaya also discussed his preference of hiring refugees in an interview in April with CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

“The minute they get a job, that’s the minute they stop being a refugee,” Ulukaya told Steve Kroft. “They are the most loyal, hard-working people right now in our plant here [in New York]. We have 19 different nationalities, 16 different translators.”

“They got here legally. They’ve gone through a most dangerous journey. They lost their family members. They lost everything they have. And here they are. They are either going to be a part of society or they are going to lose it again,” he said of two sisters he employs. “The No. 1 thing that you can do is provide them jobs. The minute they get a job, that’s the minute they stop being a refugee.”

Chobani’s welcoming of refugees in Idaho also has been met with criticism and concern, however. Although none have been connected to any Chobani employee, Idaho has seen a spike in violent crimes perpetrated by Muslim refugees.

For example, a five-year-old girl was sexually assaulted last August at the hands of three refugee boys of the Twin Falls refugee resettlement program. And days later, a Muslim refugee molested a mentally handicapped woman.

The Twin Falls refugee program began in the 1980s with refugees coming from such diverse places as Vietnam, Poland and Russia, but shifted in 2012 when the focus shifted to bringing in refugees from Islamic Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Eritrea and Sudan, according to the webpage for the College of Southern Idaho’s refugee resettlement program.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. State Department has shipped more than 12,000 refugees directly from the Third World to Idaho, most landing in Twin Falls. Nearly half have come from some of the world’s most notorious jihadist hot zones, including Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria and Pakistan, according to the federal refugee database.

Few Americans understand the full extent of their nation’s immigration problem. Get all the details in Leo Hohmann’s “Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest Through Immigration and Resettlement Jihad,” available now in hard copy or e-book at the WND Superstore.

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