African Influx Reshapes Immigration to Minnesota

David Peterson, Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul), May 15, 2010

The flow of immigrants to Minnesota is quietly reaching record highs amid signs of what could prove to be a profound and lasting shift in their continents of origin.

For the first time ever, African nations are supplying more than half the state’s legal immigrants. Four countries from that continent now stand atop the list.

Arrivals are doubling and quadrupling from countries such as Kenya and Liberia even as numbers are tapering off, for a variety of reasons, from past immigrant taproots such as India, Thailand and Russia, federal data show.

Africans say they are attracted here for the same reasons as others–quality of life, good schools for their kids–with the additional twist of Minnesota’s reputation in parts of that continent as being receptive to immigrants with funny accents.

{snip}

At a time of severe job losses, the rise in the sheer number of immigrants, combined with their increasing likelihood of being black and Muslim, creates the conditions for a backlash.

But demographers are warning that Minnesotans should be grateful for anyone who chooses to plant stakes in the frozen north these days, at a time when Minnesota’s population growth has slowed and dozens of its counties are slowly emptying.

The arrivals won’t put a huge dent in the state’s mostly European-origin demographics any time soon: We’re still talking about 18,000 total immigrants counted last year in a state of 5.26 million. {snip}

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