Chobani founder touts company’s custom of hiring refugees


American yogurt producer Chobani’s founder, Hamdi Ulukaya has been an outspoken supporter of refugees and has made a point of hiring them in his two factories in New York and Idaho, he announced in a recent interview.

Ulukaya appeared Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes” to talk with host Steve Kroft about politics and the U.S. refugee policy.

“The minute they get a job, that’s the minute they stop being a refugee,” Ulukaya claimed. “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.”

Locally resettled refugees make up a large part of Chobani’s workforce, and he said his factory in Twin Falls, Idaho has become the target of hatred. Ulukaya said that he and the mayor of Twin Falls each received death threats prior to the 2016 presidential election.

“It was an emotional time. People … hate you for doing something right,” Ulukaya said. “There’s not much you can do.”

Now, supported by Idaho’s Republican governor Butch Otter, Ulukaya said things have gotten better.

“I think his care about his employees, whether they be refugees or they be folks that were born 10 miles from where they’re working — I believe his advocacy for that person is no different. And there’s nothing wrong with that,” said Otter.

As of July 2016, over 2,400 Muslim refugees had been resettled into the Twin Falls, Idahao area since 9/11, and several hundred of them are employed at the Chobani plant.

The area received national attention in June 2016 when three Muslim refugees boys, ages 14, 10 and 7, sexually assaulted a 5-year-old special needs girl.

Since he immigrated from Turkey to the U.S. in 1994, the billionaire yogurt magnate has been funding philanthropic efforts to help the plight of refugees in America.

“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 his employees.

“The number one thing that you can do is provide them jobs. The minute they get a job, that’s the minute they stop being a refugee.”

Ulukaya came to the United States on a student visa – the same program that Hillary Clinton had said during her campaign would “attract and retain top talent from around the world,” and is touted as allowing foreign entrepreneurs to building companies that will provide jobs for American workers.   Yet, as Ulukaya confirms, a large percentage of his employees are refugees.

H/T: The Hill

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