Albany, Kentucky, has a stay of execution for at least a little longer. But more than a few townspeople are preparing to mourn her passing—and leave before the funeral.

Albany is a town of 2,000 in the rolling limestone hills of southern Kentucky, just north of the Tennessee line. Founded in the early 1820’s, it is an all-American, old-stock community. Like many such communities in the South and the Heartland, its agriculture-based economy is not providing the jobs necessary to keep young people at home. So, like so many of these other communities, Albany has advertised for industry to come to town. To make the offer attractive, it held out the usual tax incentives. One in particular was an “Empowerment Zone,” a federal program pushed by the Clinton administration to promote rural development.

Seeing a good deal, the Cagle’s poultry processing company made a bid to build a plant, but the deal offered Albany more than it ever bargained for. In the words of Don Corleone, it was an offer Albany couldn’t refuse. The town’s political establishment wanted it, and that was that—despite the sentiments of many average citizens.

The deal proposed to bring 1,600 jobs to town. The trouble is that the local unemployment rate is only 350 or so. Where would the rest of the workers come from? Given the recent history of Cagle’s and other poultry processors, the answer most likely is importing Third World immigrants—many reputed to be illegal aliens.

One local resident, who asked to remain unidentified, commented that such an influx would ruin Albany. “What is at stake here,” he maintained, “is the quality of life in our town. If that plant comes here, it’s gone forever.” He asked to remain anonymous because he and others who have protested have received death threats and had their property destroyed. “I was born here and grew up here. My family has been here since the 1840’s, but probably I’ll choose to leave. A rural ghetto is all that’s going to be left.” In a lighter vein he added, “This whole thing reminds me of the story of the Trojan Horse. Here you have the Trojan Chicken. You accept it as a gift, and the next thing you know, you’re taken over.”

Ned Smith, a local farmer, does not mind making his case in public against the plant. He heads an opposition group called Friends of Lake Cumberland and Dale Hollow. “The plant promoters,” said Smith, “have tried to give the idea that we’re against jobs. That’s not true. We need jobs, but chickens aren’t the answer.” He describes work in the plants as low-paying and dangerous. “After a while,” he observed, “even the foreigners quit, and the company has to keep importing more. This doesn’t offer anything to local people.”

With the immigrants come more taxes to provide them services, such as bilingual education for their children. Smith knows because he visited a community in Georgia which has a Cagle’s plant. “We just don’t have the money or the infrastructure to support something like this.” More crime, he learned, will be a problem, too. Another great concern to Smith and the other opponents is pollution from the plant. They maintain that its waste will contaminate the local water supply. Many environmentalists agree. Citing the threat to water quality, the Kentucky Sierra Club opposes the plant.

The danger of pollution now offers the only possibility that Cagle’s will not come to Albany. The company still needs permits to clear all the environmental hurdles—thus the stay of execution. But Smith and the others are not optimistic because they lack the clout of Cagle’s and Albany’s powers-that-be.

“They’re also determined because they see money to be made from the plant,” explained the man who asked to remain anonymous. He described the Empowerment Zone as “corporate welfare.” What eventually happens to Albany is of little concern to the chicken processor, he added. As for Albany’s powers-that-be, “They can leave and probably will,” if too many problems come to town.

In a significant number of Heartland and Southern towns, the future Albany fears is already coming to pass, thanks to the policies of poultry, beef, and pork processors. There the majority of nativeborn residents must endure the Third Worldization of their communities, as their taxes subsidize the social costs of the plants’ cheap labor profiteering.

But some local people like the changes. These changes, to cite a few examples, bring more profits for slum-trailer landlords who rent to immigrants, more pupils for educators, more clients for social services, and more opportunities for secular and religious do-gooders to revel in multiculturalism.

Until recently, plants in such communities hired local people, and, in the case of the upper Midwest, paid good wages to a unionized work force. In the South the wages weren’t often as good, but the jobs at least provided unskilled whites and blacks with a chance to earn a living.

Things changed during the 1970’s and 80’s, as the nation began losing control of its borders and legalized immigration soared toward record levels. A bonanza of cheap, serf-like labor was a temptation too great for many a greedy businessman. Soon existing plants filled with immigrants, and new plants were sure to hire them too.

As time went on, some communities became wary of processing plants. One was Hawarden, Iowa, on the border of South Dakota. When a beef packer proposed to locate there, recalls Hawarden resident Richard Younie, it promised to hire only local people. But within a few years, most of the workers were Latin American immigrants.

Younie is angry about the breach of trust. He has a right to be. In 1995, two illegal aliens murdered his son in an unprovoked attack. They had come to work at the plant. Younie recalls with irony how the local business establishments and churches tried to soothe local people into accepting multiculturalism with the theme “We’re all the same.” Experience taught him otherwise: “We just don’t have the same values.”

Fortunately, during the past couple of years, several small towns have risen to defend their identity and way of life by telling meat processors to stay out of town. Among them were Franklin, Kentucky, about 80 miles from Albany; Sulpher Springs, Texas; and Spencer, Iowa. In Spencer, the city government had to reverse its decision to welcome a processor when 1,000 residents showed up at a town meeting to voice their opposition. The effects of immigration were a primary concern. Their slogan: “Your Quality of Life Depends on Saying No!”

One hopes that the “spirit of Spencer” will grow into a general trend. Small towns need jobs, but not at the price of selling their souls. Those souls are important to the nation. A retired military officer once told me that our small rural towns are indispensable because, from his experience, they provide our best citizens and soldiers.

In the cemeteries of these communities are the plots of some of those soldiers, local sons who gave their lives to keep disruptive values and foreign domination far from their homes and homeland. How sad that some of their countrymen today would sell out those sacrifices, and import alien bedlam, just for the price of cheap profits. Perhaps those fallen sons will continue to rest in peace in places like Albany, Kentucky. Most likely, they won’t.