Terry Fiedler, Star Tribune (MN), July 1, 2004
Hennepin County will need about $7.5 million in the next year to support new Hmong refugees, according to a report by the county’s Human Services Department that was recently submitted to the County Board.
Minnesota is expecting to receive about 5,000 Hmong refugees from the Wat Tham Krabok camp in Thailand who are coming to join relatives already living here. The first members of the group began to arrive last week.
About 60 percent of the new arrivals are expected to settle in Ramsey County, with about one-third coming to Hennepin County.
Ramsey County has not made an estimate of its first-year support costs for resettling the refugees.
The federal government said last week it would provide an additional $3.3 million this year to help settle Hmong refugees in Minnesota, Wisconsin and California, beyond the $19 million it already committed.
Health and Human Service Department officials said the money is a “safety valve” that will ease the burden on state and local governments, but members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation said they will continue to push for more money.
Hennepin County Commissioner Randy Johnson said he is “hopeful” that the federal government will provide all of the funds to account for the county costs, although he added that the county is making contingency plans.
“If it’s up to the federal government to make immigration decisions, it ought to be the federal government’s responsibility to provide for these refugees,” Johnson said.
County officials say immigration has strained their budgets for years because the federal government often doesn’t provide enough money to take care of the many needs of new residents.
Johnson added that Hennepin County’s experience with immigrant groups is that the number of refugees who ultimately settle here is usually much larger than the initial group because of secondary migrations from other areas of the country.
Vinodh Kutty, coordinator of multi-cultural services for Hennepin County, said that even as bipartisan efforts are under way to lobby for more federal money, “Ramsey and Hennepin counties have the infrastructure to deal with the refugees.”
According to the report, the refugees as a group are expected to be young — 20 percent infants or preschoolers, 40 percent school-age children and 40 percent working-age adults. Only a third of the adults have a formal education. About half of the children have attended school.
The county estimated that about 30 percent of the families will need subsidized day care while they attend language training school or work and that the public will spend $1.2 million for child care during the first year in Hennepin County.
Minneapolis schools expect 700 new Hmong students, and although the state and federal government will cover most of the $2.5 million in annual costs, local costs will be about $500,000, the report said.
County costs for adult English language education are estimated to be $2.25 million.
Other estimated first-year county costs include $600,000 for job training, $165,000 for mental health screening, $80,000 for socialization programs, $120,000 for outreach and mental health treatment, and $137,000 for emergency shelter services.
The report also said that an “outpouring” of volunteer contributions has helped to keep the county’s costs down. Human Services estimated that local costs would be another $20 million or more if not for the volunteer services.
Comments from Readers
The citizens of the United States cannot afford to have the whole world move here!
From: John P. M.
“$ 120,000 for outreach and mental health treatment…”
For who, the Hmong? Better that money should be spent on the insane political “leaders” who welcome this invasion and money pit of “diversity”!