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Refugees and Immigrants in Minnesota
Authored by Kassie Maxeiner and Maja Black with contributions from Will Yetvin and Colleen McCarty
In the past few decades, the demographics of Minnesota have changed dramatically, stimulating the exercise of hospitality and neighborliness in many corners of the state. In addition, civic and political discourse about policies involving education, public heath and the cultural and religious makeup of communities have often revolved around the place and contributions of refugees and immigrants in Minnesota. Through effective aid organizations and programming, more than 93,000 refugees from over 90 countries have been welcomed to and resettled in the state from 1979 to 2010.1 The precise number of refugees in the state is difficult to verify. Some refugees are initially settled in Minnesota but then move to another state, while other refugees initially settled outside of Minnesota move to Minnesota to be with family and friends or for economic opportunities. Many of these refugees, including large populations of Somalis, Cambodians, and Hmong, to name a few, have resettled in large communities to create new ethnic neighborhoods in the Minnesota. These populations have begun to transform the ways in which ethnicity, religion, and race are perceived in Minnesota, and Minnesota has, in turn, transformed them. Still, there is a great deal of misunderstanding regarding these communities, and other immigrants within the state. For this reason, this work seeks to deepen the narratives about the refugee experience, especially with respect to the ways in which religous traditions and cultures are expressed within this world of transition. Through seeing the increasing diversity, and wealth of perspectives, that refugee communities have brought, and continue to bring to the state, we seek to foster more nuanced understanding.