Welcome to Twin Falls
Main Street in downtown Twin Falls, Idaho, stretches three blocks, lined with thrift stores and shuttered storefronts. And yet the area’s industry is thriving. Ten miles away, Chobani operates one of the world’s largest yogurt-processing plants. Clif Bar recently opened a 300,000-square-foot bakery. The region’s more than 300 dairy farms make Idaho the nation’s third-greatest dairy producer, after California and Wisconsin. Statewide, unemployment sits at 3.6 percent, well below the national average of 4.7 percent.
According to the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, 85 to 90 percent of dairy workers are foreign-born, and since 1993, farmers have turned to the College of Southern Idaho’s Refugee Center for labor. In 2016, Twin Falls, population 47,000, resettled more than 300 refugees, most from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but also from Burma, Eritrea, Sudan, and Iraq. Because there is no public transportation and little street culture, they are seldom visible. They experience America in cheap apartments, roadhouse kitchens, laundry rooms, and dairy barns.