“The inn is not full in Minnesota,” wrote Governor Tim Walz last week. Affirming Minnesota’s long tradition of welcoming refugees, he told Homeland Security Secretary Mike Pompeo that Minnesota will continue to accept refugee resettlement:
“Refugees strengthen our communities. Bringing new cultures and fresh perspectives, they contribute to the social fabric of our state. Opening businesses and supporting existing ones, they are critical to the success of our economy. Refugees are doctors and bus drivers. They are entrepreneurs and police officers. They are students and teachers. They are our neighbors.“
While registering the state’s official welcome to refugees, Minnesota also challenged the executive order that restricts resettlement to counties and states that have registered their consent. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison joined several other states in supporting the legal challenge filed by three refugee resettlement organizations.
The president’s order requires affirmative consent from both state and county governments. In Minnesota, the Kandiyohi County has voted to accept refugees. With some confusion over exactly what the executive order requires, and when, and in what form, other counties continue to consider resolutions. In 2018, the Minnesota Department of Human Services listed ten counties with resettlement program contracts. Refugee resettlement has dropped precipitously under the Trump administration, with only 775 refugees resettled in Minnesota in fiscal year 2019.
A Minnesota church is protesting efforts to deport one of its members, a refugee from Cameroon:
“To Gladys Mbonifor, the community of Apple Valley, Minnesota, is home and the Spirit of Life Presbyterian Church is family.
“Mbonifor is from Cameroon where civil war continues to wreak havoc on its citizens. She came to the U.S. in 2011 to find stability for herself and her daughter. Her family that is still in Cameroon has been displaced by violence over the past two years.”
In better news, Liberians with DED may finally have a path to permanent residence with the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, which has been passed by the House as part of the defense appropriations bill.
“Lawmakers called it a major victory for the Liberian community, which has established deep roots in Minnesota with an estimated population of 30,000. The population of DED holders nationwide is estimated at 4,000.
“Original cosponsors of the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act include both DFL senators from Minnesota, Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar….
“According to the bill, DED holders are eligible to apply for permanent residency if they’ve been living in the United States continuously since Nov. 20, 2014, and not been absent for more than a total of 180 days. They would need to apply within one year of the bill becoming law.”
Congratulations to the International Institute of Minnesota, which marked a century of helping new Minnesotans last week. Among the International Institute’s programs: citizenship preparation, job training, English language classes, and much more.
“The institute resettled 578 refugees in fiscal year 2016 but expects it will serve only 100 through next September as the Trump administration cuts the number of refugees allowed into the country.
“‘The unpredictability of the last three years has been really hard,’ said Jane Graupman, the group’s executive director. ‘It’s hard to run a program when you have no idea what’s going to happen from year to year and that’s very different than how it’s been in the past.’
“Minnesota’s foreign-born population is about 8 percent now compared to 20 percent a century ago. In the 1980s, refugees came to Minnesota after spending two years in a refugee camp. Now they spend 18 years on average before arriving, she said.”
If you’d like to help some of Minnesota’s newer immigrants and refugees, MIRAC is looking for new or gently used and clean winter clothing:
We are looking for
* Winter coats
* Gloves or mittens
* Snow pants
Looking for all sizes for kids and adults. They don’t have to be new but need to be in good condition and clean. We are not asking for any other clothing items at this time, just what’s listed above.
You can bring your donations to 4200 Cedar Ave South, Minneapolis at these times:
Thursday, December 19 from 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Friday, December 20 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Saturday, December 21 from 1:00 – 2:00 pm
If you can’t come at those times, email firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.
Looking for more ways to get involved? Check out Ten Things You Can Do to Support Immigrants and Refugees.