Monday, March 29, 2021

Recent Arrivals in Minnesota

A few days ago, I saw this graph in the Star Tribune:

Of course, I was interested in the overall changes that have happened in those almost-30 years (Germany? Canada? the UK?), but I also wondered if there had been any significant difference between the early teens and the late teens, given the effect of cutting off refugee programs during the Trump years. 

Minnesota has been a disproportionate receiver of refugees to the U.S., so for instance, I would have thought that would show up as a large number of Karen people (from Burma/Myanmar) on this list. But — as my thoughts ran — maybe it would have shown up in 2015, but not in 2019.

But I guess not. Here are some stats from the state demographer from 2013:


It's not quite the same data as the Star Trib graph, since it's in absolute numbers rather than percentages, but you can see that those top five countries of origin were the same in 2013, and Burma/Myanmar was not among them. 

The Karen started to appear in noticeable numbers in 2004, as shown in this graph, with a big increase in 2008 that was continuing through the end of the graph's time period in 2012:

That graph also shows the big numbers of Southeast Asian refugees in the 1980s, continuing into the 1990s (they started coming in the mid–late 1970s), and then the East African influx of the 1990s and 2000s. 

Overall, the demographer showed the state's immigrant and refugee population has been less and less likely to come from Europe, which she labeled diverse, and I guess in the literal sense of the word, it is. The bar is now relatively evenly divided between the colors representing six areas of the world, instead of almost all of it colored to represent one area, as it did 50–70 years ago:

The following graph is also interesting because its timeframe is longer, going back to 1920, when immigrants were a higher percentage of the state's population. But in absolute numbers, we had almost as many immigrants and refugees in the early 2010s as we had in 1930:

After 1930, the effect of the racist Immigration Act of 1924 — which included the Asian Exclusion Act and the National Origins Act — really started to take effect. According to the Wikipedia page about the act

Quotas for specific countries were based on 2% of the US population from that country recorded in the 1890 census... According to the U.S. Department of State's Office of the Historian, the purpose of the act was "to preserve the ideal of U.S. homogeneity."

It certainly worked out that way, until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was passed. 

I know so many people whose parents or grandparents were able to come here because of the 1965 act (or because of changes in how refugees were admitted), and all of them have made this country and this state better places.

Of course, people like me, who are within-country migrants, don't show up on any of these stats. I hope we are also making this a better place. 

Humans move: it's what we do, and trying to keep a place the same is a hopeless and mean task. Figuring out a way to coexist equitably is the challenge, not keeping people from moving.

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