Dana Ullman

A Portrait of Rural America
Location: hudson, new york
Nationality: USA
Biography: Dana Ullman is a New York-based freelance photojournalist and writer whose work focuses on humanizing statistics and social issues through storytelling. Dana's stories have been published by the New York Times, the International Consortium of... read on
Public Story
A Portrait of Rural America
Copyright dana ullman 2021
Date of Work 09/23/16 - Ongoing
Updated 06/27/17
Archived as
Welcome To Twin Falls, Idaho

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.



 "If we can save American lives, American jobs and American futures, together we can save America itself," President-elect Donald Trump said last fall in a speech in Phoenix, Arizona. Yet, Mr. Trump's plan, which prioritizes the deportation of undocumented immigrants and suspension of refugees arriving from terror-prone regions, where most refugees come from, could undermine the very promises he has made to improve the economy.

Nowhere is this more the case than in Twin Falls, Idaho. Twin Falls, whose motto is "People Serving People" is a proudly conservative town polarized by immigration. Opponents of the town's refugee resettlement program say refugees and immigrants threaten the town's security, economy and culture. For advocates, national anti-immigrant agendas have distorted local realities. For farmers like in the third largest dairy producing region in the country, it's simple - their livelihoods depends on foreign-born workers.

In 2016 African refugees (particularly the DRC), were the largest growing population according to the Refugee Processing Center, which has recorded all refugee arrivals since 2002. This photo story is a portrait of an American farm town from the perspectives of the daily lives of African refugees living and working in the dairy industry around Twin Falls. Their voices are vital, yet missing from the conversation concerning refugees and forced migration.

Published in California Sunday Magazine: https://story.californiasunday.com/welcome-to-twin-falls


Also by Dana Ullman —


Lamu, Kenya: Paradise Lost?

By Dana Ullman / Lamu, Kenya — As China pushes clean energy policies at home, it is exporting its high-pollution coal industry to pristine..

An American Portrait

By Dana Ullman / United States of America

Evicted and Abandoned: The Barabaig of Tanzania

By Dana Ullman / Tanzania

Everyday Life

By Dana Ullman / Uganda — Selected images of daily life while working on assignment in Uganda, 2012-2015

There is a lovely country...

By Dana Ullman / Denmark — Der er et yndigt land Der er et yndigt land, det stÃ¥r med brede bøge nær salten østerstrand nær salten..

Women & Work

By Dana Ullman / Uganda — The economic autonomy of women has been proven to further economic, social and health successes worldwide..


By Dana Ullman / Uganda — The problem was there, but the support was small. We wanted to do something bigger. - Jennifer Akello,..

Aging In Place

By Dana Ullman / San Francisco, California — "First of all, you're alone...if you fall between the cracks and you're not very well-to-do you're sort of..

Exoneration: Life After Innocence

By Dana Ullman / United States of America — "Everyone thinks the problem is over. No, the problem's not over. It just got started." - Crystal, wife of..


By Dana Ullman / Uganda — "My experience in prison was really seeing. Seeing what happens, seeing what people go through, seeing..


By Dana Ullman / California United States — "The system failed them before they even got to that point [prison]." - Kim Dadou, a formerly incarcerated..
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