Minnesota Immigration Stories

#StandOnEveryCorner in St. Paul

#StandOnEveryCorner in St. Paul

Just a quick round-up here: an outstanding Minnesota immigrant, the gubernatorial campaign, a courthouse arrest by ICE, Minneapolis opposition to a citizenship question on the census, the effect of a Trump administration threat to legal residents—and the opposition voices in #StandOnEveryCorner.

Maylary Apolo: Notable Woman

The Austin Daily Herald highlights Maylary Apolo as “Notable Woman of Austin.” Her refugee story began in Burma. When she was 19, her family began their refugee odyssey, moving from their home in Burma to a distant village, and then to a series of refugee camps in Thailand, where they remained for 20 years. Her story concludes with words of advice: “Never give up when faced with trouble” and “Believe in God and let Him show you the way forward.”

Campaign slander

Maylary’s refugee success story has lessons for the two Republican gubernatorial candidates, who have vied with each other in immigrant-bashing. Both began by calling for no more refugee resettlement in Minnesota, insisting that refugees cost the state too much. Not so, editorialized the Star Tribune, correctly observing that the cost of resettlement is more than repaid by economic contributions of refugees.

[S]tate social services spending … is balanced by the long-term economic gain that refugees and other immigrants produce. By one calculation, refugees and immigrants pay $1.2 billion in state and local taxes per year, and add 7.5 percent to the annual gross state product.”

In St. Cloud, a petition to put an anti-refugee measure on the ballot failed to get anywhere near enough signatures.

T-Paw also targets immigrants in a TV ad about public benefits, strongly implying that they are wrongly collecting benefits and showing a sign reading “Open Borders.”

The ad cites a 2016 Pioneer Press article headlined “Minnesota DHS errors may top $200 million, audit finds.” The article does not once mention immigrants. Nor does it talk about any current public benefits overpayments. The problem cited in the article was bad MNSure software, not bad people:

“The expensive problem was caused partly by miscommunication and poor training at the Department of Human Services, but the audit that uncovered the errors said software issues are primarily to blame.”

Another Pawlenty ad features a photo of him with uniformed Minneapolis police officers and claims that the state is “wasting millions” on undocumented immigrants.

Courthouse arrest

In another Minnesota immigration headline, ICE officers arrested Carlos Urrutia inside the Ramsey County Courthouse after his sentencing hearing on July 26. Both the Ramsey County judge and an immigration judge had ordered Urrutia released from custody. ICE appealed the immigration judge’s ruling and got an order of detention, which led to his arrest in the courthouse by plainclothes ICE officers who refused to identify themselves to family and friends, who videotaped the arrest.

Urrutia is a faith leader in his Catholic parish, a 25-year resident of Minnesota, and an active member of ISAIAH. His deportation, scheduled soon after his arrest, was delayed, according to ISAIAH.

Citizenship question on census

In April, Minnesota joined other states in suing to prevent a citizenship question from being added to the 2020 Census. Now the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Jacob Frey have joined in, with a letter formally requesting the U.S. Census Bureau remove a citizenship question from the 2020 census questionnaire.”

Targeting legal residents

The Trump administration is proposing changes to immigration regulations that would penalize any immigrant, if anyone in their family, including U.S. citizens, receives public benefits ranging from health care subsidies to earned income tax credits. As the Star Tribune reports, the threat of the regulation—which has not yet been officially published or implemented—is creating fear and causing people to forego benefits to which legal immigrants or their U.S. citizen children are entitled.

Under the proposal, a legal immigrant could be denied a temporary visa or permanent residency through a green card if they use Medicaid, food stamps, low-income tax credits and a broad array of other state and federal social service programs. Even the use of such benefits by a child or a citizen spouse could jeopardize an immigrant’s chances at permanent residency in the United States….

“The big fear is this will lead to parents not applying for [public] health and nutrition benefits,” said Ana Pottratz Acosta, a professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law who specializes in immigration issues. “You could draw a straight line from this policy to children going hungry and not getting necessary medical care.”


Minnesotans are standing up to protest the anti-immigrant policies of the Trump administration. #StandOnEveryCorner is one recent movement bringing people out to street corners with protest signs. In my St. Paul neighborhood, that’s every day from 5-6 p.m. at the busy corner of Fairview and Marshall. In Minneapolis, reports Jim Walsh in the Southwest Journal:

“It all started in June, when Tache, a South Minneapolis husband and father of two, finally got fed up with the callousness of the Trump administration. Around the time federal officials were separating children from their babies, a friend in Spain wondered aloud to Tache about the lack of outrage being expressed in the streets of America. He made a sign and stood at the corner of one of the busiest intersections in South Minneapolis, near Pearl Park at rush hour, waving and thumbs-upping at motorists, most of who honked in solidarity and gratitude.”

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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