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From meatpacking to driving a cab, Denver suburb becomes the heart of the Somali cabbie business

Posted by Ann Corcoran on December 6, 2010

This is an overly long story about the use and abuse of African cab drivers in Denver.  I couldn’t get through the whole thing, so I recommend reading the comments first and it will give you a gist of the sob story (the title, ‘Mean Streets‘ tells you right away the tone of the story).

I’m posting it because of this little bit of information about a growing Somali Tuula in Aurora, just outside of Denver.  It also provides an update of the story we covered extensively two years ago about the Somali religious demands at the Swift meatpacking plant in Greeley.*  According to this report, many of the meatpacker workers have now turned to the cab driving business.

From Westward News:

He [Ahmed Odawaay, who teaches Somalis how to pass cab driver tests] isn’t the only one to get his start in this Aurora strip mall. Over the last few years, these storefronts have become a community center of sorts for the area’s growing Somali community. Down the way, past a store that sells international cell phones and Arabic prayer books, a former Chinese restaurant is now a Somali eatery and pool parlor. At the far end of the strip, another cafe serves up gingery chai and sambusas — the Somali version of samosas — and broadcasts international soccer games.

Odawaay has watched this ad hoc village take root as more and more Somalis have moved to metro Denver — or, as he likes to put it, gotten stuck here. Some came to Colorado from other parts of the country for decent-paying warehouse positions at places like MCI or delivery gigs with the Rocky Mountain News, but those jobs don’t exist anymore. Some came to work at the Swift meatpacking plant in Greeley, but as claims of discrimination against Muslims there triggered an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint, many of the immigrants headed south to try their luck in Denver.

According to Odawaay, they’ll find few options beyond driving taxis.

* We covered the Greeley/Swift controversy extensively in a special category, here.

For new readers: We have admitted well over 100,000 Somali refugees to the US.   To check out the numbers visit this post, one of our most widely read posts over the last few years.   In FY2010 which ended September 30th the US State Department resettled 4,884 Somalis (here) to towns near you.

Also, after being closed for nearly two years, the US State Department is on the verge of resuming the fraud-ridden family reunification program that admitted as many as 36,000 Somalis fraudulently to the US between 2003 and 2008.  See the latest on new regulations, here.  The State Department is on the verge of re-opening the program.

17 Responses to “From meatpacking to driving a cab, Denver suburb becomes the heart of the Somali cabbie business”

  1. Hahaha. Funny! K. The k-mart shopper.


  2. K. aka Kel said

    Allah, I’m not allowed to call you the names I want to here, but a safe word is that you’re extremely ignorant and a bit of a racists. I don”t hate anybody, but I do resent immigrant scams and able-bodied people who refuse to work.

    As foe you comment re. Sekh, you just proved my point: He was explaining his experience, but in your biased little mind, you had to taunt him (“Somali woman declined to go out with him..” “Get a life..”)

    Look, I don’t like you, your posts are insipid and make no sense, and if I met you in person, I wouldn’t give you the time of day. If you tried to post on BNI’s page, you’d be eaten alive.


    • SekhmetsatRa said

      Actually, I am a Cherokee WOMAN, so neither white nor ignorant. My experience of misogynist Somalis is firsthand.


  3. Birm! I misunderstood your comment about ( bad and evil) sorry!


  4. Birm said

    Customer service jobs are often stressful, aren’t they.

    I’m friends with several Somali and other African immigrant people and I would not characterize them in the ways you have above.


  5. Sekh is typical southerner who never dealt with immigrants in his life or may be Somali woman declined to go out with him! Either way there is no proof Somalis hate Americans or abused the system.
    Get a life !


  6. Nur said

    The bottom line is thet,we pay tax.


  7. Birm said

    You know, I’m not even Somali. Or African. Or an immigrant. All it takes is looking beyond right wing blogs and actually talking to a real live Somali person like a human being once in a while to figure this stuff out. Come on, people.


  8. SekhmetsatRa said

    If it is safe enough for them to return home, then WHY ARE THEY REFUGEES?


    • acorcoran said

      Great question! I’ve even heard of Somalis recieving federal grants and a federally funded salary to run an “ethnic community based organization” who is spending large amounts of time each year “doing business” in Somalia. What business? And, is he taking taxpayer dollars back to Somalia?


      • Birm said

        Some people can return if they are working in support areas of or for the transitional government. They receive some protection.


    • mark21281 said

      If their home country stabilizes at a later time or a government is installed that will no longer oppress them then that is why someone who was formerly a refugee and resettled to the US has gone home for a visit or permanently. If they go back risking their life to help their home country than that makes sense too. What I would question is former refugees returning home soon just for a visit because to get refugee status they are supposedly afraid or unable to return to their country. Yet it is still legitimate in some circumstances. Maybe they are returning to care for a sick parent and are willing to risk their life to do it (I knew an Iraqi SIV immigrant who worked for the US army as a translator who went home to take his sick father to Syria for medical treatment. He was risking his life to return but he did it for his father.


  9. Good point Birm !
    RRW folks have not reported any positive story about Somalis , there are thousands of people returning to their homeland on daily basis and start rebuild their country .
    Thanks for raising that issue! I think there is agenda behind it.


  10. Birm said

    Is there a reason why, among your many links to new articles, that you don’t post stories such as these?

    Somali Americans Return to Help Homeland


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