Every year the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) publishes statistics on primary refugee arrivals in the state – i.e. those who resettled in Minnesota after leaving another country. Refugee arrival data is available online for 2007, but 2008 and 2009 data haven’t been posted yet.
I was trying to find lunch and a meeting with other some folks in the building where I work. Couldn’t find the room. Ended up meeting the person who works with refugees within Minnesota’s schools and we had a great exchange of information. So, thanks to a chance encounter, for those of you monitoring refugee statistics and emerging groups in Minnesota, here are some data for 2008 and 2009 from MDH. Eventually I imagine this data will be on the MDH website, along with other refugee health statistics. In the meantime, library staff may find the documents below useful in planning.
BTW–These are the number of new refugees in Minnesota, not the total number of immigrants residing in Minnesota.
*Refugees continue to arrive from Burma. In 2008 and through mid-summer 2009, there were more refugees from Burma than Somalia. In 2007 the reverse was true–there more refugees from Somalia than Burma.
*Minnesota Counties with 10 or more primary refugee arrivals:
2009 (through 7/31): Ramsey, Hennepin, Anoka, Olmsted, Dakota, Scott
2008: Ramsey, Hennepin, Anoka, Olmsted, Scott, Dakota, Stearns, Ottertail
*Total Primary Refugee Arrivals to MN:
2009 (thru 7/31): 611
2008: 1205 (49% from Burma)
2007: 2867 (40% from Somalia)
What’s a refugee? Who qualifies as a refugee? I found this document from the MDH website helpful: “United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Visa Designations” (Powerpoint: 61KB/10 slides) or (PDF: 43KB/10 slides)
The Department of Homeland Security just published a task force report, including a chapter on the role of public libraries in integrating immigrants into life in the United States.
Minnesota libraries were highlighted for their leadership roles in this quote from the report’s section, “Public Libraries: Reservoirs of community resources” (pages 20-23):
“The Minneapolis Public Library and the St. Paul Public Library also exemplify the leadership role libraries can play in new immigrant destinations. With a celebratory message of immigrants’ contributions to the Twin Cities, both library systems have developed community outreach programs to familiarize immigrants with the libraries’ resources, which include English literacy services.” (page 21)
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Task Force on New Americans, Building an Americanization Movement for the Twenty-first Century: A Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on New Americans, Washington, DC 2008.
–Click here to view the full report:
As many public library staff will attest, the US Citizenship & Immigration Service refers immigrants to the public libraries to make appointments and locate forms online, among other things. Here’s another, broader quote about the role of libraries:
“Public libraries in the United States have a long history of helping immigrants integrate into their communities and better understand life in their new country. With more and more immigrants settling outside of traditional immigrant gateways, it is important that all public libraries be equipped with resources to assist immigrants.” –p.57