Is the government giving immigrants money to buy local minit marts & hotels?
|March 28, 2013||Posted by admin under Bardstown, Nelson County, News In General||
By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette
Thursday, March 27, 2013 — For many months now I have been hearing people tell me things along the lines of “I hear ‘those people’ are taking over all the hotels” or “Did you hear that ‘some of those people’ are able to get no-interest loans (or tax breaks) to buy up all our local convenience stores?”
If you haven’t heard these stories that are quietly shared (and at times, not so quietly shared), you may not be aware that “those people” are immigrants from the Indian subcontinent — typically India or Pakistan.
As the story goes, the U.S. government is providing these immigrants with low or no-interest loans with which they can buy up local businesses, particularly hotels and minit marts. The recent sale of a number of local minit marts to new, presumably immigrant owners have triggered a recent wave of rumors and speculation about “those people” taking over.
I took a call on my radio show (“Brooks & Company”) recently from a woman who complained of immigrants buying local businesses and then laying off “American employees,” which apparently included the caller. I don’t know the exact circumstances surrounding her claim, but I believe the new owner of a business — regardless of his nation of origin — has the right to extend employment to whomever they wish to hire.
But the question remains — does the U.S. government have programs to give immigrants low-interest or no-interest loans with which to snap up local businesses and “put Americans out of work” as some claim?
According to the Urban Legend Reference Pages (www.snopes.com), this and similar claims of have been circulating since the late 1960s. According to Snopes:
“Almost without exception, versions of this rumor mention a single, specific ethnic group. The tale isn’t about wanting to close the borders to all immigrants; its a backlash against one particular group of new arrivals, usually one which is perceived to have developed a sudden large presence in the teller’s neighborhood.”
This is what has happened in Nelson County — in the past year the ownership of a couple of well-known local minit marts has shifted to the hands of (presumable) recent immigrants from India, Pakistan or other area in the Indian subcontinent. The stories I hear mention that government programs give the new owners free loans with which to buy these businesses — loans that allegedly are not open to American citizens.
Is it illegal or new to buy and sell a business? Some apparently hold the belief that perhaps it should be if you talk with an unusual accent or hail from a foreign land. But even the purchase of a business does not guarantee success in the marketplace by anyone; success or failure is not guaranteed, but hard work to achieve success is the basis for what we once called “The American Dream.”
Is this dream still alive? There’s no doubt to me it is. Not only is is part of American culture, it attracts people to come to our country in order to pursue their own dreams.
The rumors and whispered complaints are based on fears that breed resentment — resentment fueled by false stories that provide the justification for hatred. Years ago, the signage for a local hotel boasted that it was “American owned” — a not-so-subtle message that meant “Stay with us if you want to avoid staying in an immigrant-owned establishment.”
Its a sobering reminder that even in the 21st Century, we aren’t as far removed from baseless suspicions of unfamiliar newcomers and racism as we might wish to believe we are.
For more information on the urban legend, click here to read the entry at the Urban Legend Reference Pages.