Blackduck Blunder: Star-Tribune Forgets Journalism 101
June 01, 2005, 03:45 AM
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I have repeatedly expressed appreciation for the naive, almost childlike honesty which keeps the Minneapolis Star-Tribune a wonderful source of stories on the disastrous impact of recent immigration on its formerly highly functional region. News more experienced publications automatically repress keeps surfacing.

Generally, though, the Star Tribune stories are professionally constructed and written. This cannot be said about the latest specimen Bienvendo a Blackduck —by Larry Werner Star Tribune May 30 2005 [ Access requires free registration]

Essentially, this is a formulaic ra-ra immigration cheerleading story about the wonderful deeds of an immigrant Peruvian woman, Doris Ruiz, who is operating Olen Staff, a "Minneapolis staffing agency" currently specializing in locating large quantities of Hispanics from sweatshop industries in their home countries and distributing them to factories deep in rural Minnesota. (In the literature this function is being a "gangmaster" and is the focus of sustained attack in for instance the UK where immigration employer enforcement has not been abandoned)

Werner deploys all the usual cliches about revitalizing the town, bolstering the education tax base, and improving the local cuisine. He showcases the happy local businessman who is the primary beneficiary in Blackduck, Ron Anderson of Anderson Fabrics:

"the workers she's brought to Blackduck not only make up 10 percent of Anderson Fabrics' workforce—"She's quite an entrepreneur," said Ron Anderson, a Blackduck native who founded the fabric company 25 years ago. Since he heard about Ruiz a little over a year ago, Anderson has been working with her to staff his sewing stations with workers who did similar jobs, for far less money, in Central and South America before they immigrated to the Twin Cities."
Perhaps it would be demanding too much economic sophistication of Werner to expect him to consider the costs thrown onto the community by a huge influx of low-wage Non-English speakers like this. But one obvious question should have been asked, but isn't: what is the visa status of these people? How could they have obtained the status to legally immigrate to take these semi-skilled jobs?

The word "visa" is never mentioned in the story.

Unsurprisingly, all Blackduck residents quoted gush with enthusiasm about the invasion. Less than five seconds Googling, however, produces the news that one important element is deeply unhappy: the local Red Lake Indians — 9% of the population, according to Werner.

Some minorities matter more than others, it seems.

Ask Larry Werner about his omissions.

Ask Ron Anderson about the visa status of his new employees.