The arrival of a new business that caters to African immigrants might strike some as the actions of a group that doesn’t want to fit in.

But it’s just the opposite. The proprietors of Salebaan Motors Inc. on St. John Street are doing exactly what members of every immigrant group that came before has done to establish their own place in this community.

This new business is good news, but, some people in Greater Portland say they are hurt and wonder what would happen if they opened a business that openly catered to white customers. The reaction is understandable but does not put this story in context of the immigrant experience in America.

Two Somali immigrants have borrowed money to open a used car dealership and auto repair garage because they recognized a need.

People they know feel uncomfortable negotiating for service using limited English.

These people face challenges that other customers don’t, like religious prohibitions against paying interest if they are Muslim or a lack of a credit card if they want to rent a car.

Sometimes they feel that area car dealers and mechanics are taking advantage of them or selling them things that they don’t need. Whether they are actually being ripped off, it’s easy to see how they would feel vulnerable.

Certainly, no traditional dealerships or service centers are specifically courting their business.

Mukhtar Geele and Ali Ali of Portland have done what immigrant Americans have been doing for generations.

They know their potential customer base and are taking into account their credit situation, their religious needs and their taste and preferences for vehicles.

Those who think the new business is an attempt to avoid assimilation are just wrong. As with the kosher delicatessens, Italian markets and Chinese restaurants that have come before, this is the classic way newcomers enter mainstream society.