The effects of having a very weak immigration policy is routinely dismissed by a large number of people. Whenever a sensible conversation needs to take place about America’s immigration structure one of these talking points usually happen:
1) The person you engage with in conversation calls you a “racist”
2) The person you engage with in conversation does not care because it is not happening in their town
3) The person you engage with in conversation will fall back on myopic stances of “immigrants founded this country” or “immigration brings diversity”.
The effects of immigration is being felt in one Minnesota town. The federal governments policy makes local taxes rise and can rapidly change a culture. Another note about this article, it celebrates the financial impact of immigrants coming via the Refugee Resettlement Program. The immigrants in this program are heavily subsidized by the federal government in the form of cash payments, housing allowances, food stamps and medical care covered by Medicaid. Once they land a job, they still will get these services over time and in the terms of real dollars, be more financially stable than most middle class tax paying Americans.
A bitter fight over school funding here has become a flash point in a larger debate about immigration and its impact on this southwestern Minnesota prairie town, where an influx of immigrants from across the globe — and more recently, an unprecedented surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America — has dramatically changed the racial makeup of the city and its schools.
As recently as 20 years ago, more than three-fourths of Worthington’s residents were white. Today, 60% are people of color, as well as 70% of the students in the school district.
Much of the shift stems from the rush of immigrants who arrived here seeking work, many of them finding it at JBS Pork, a slaughterhouse on the edge of town that employs 2,400 workers.
Nowhere is the demographic change more evident on a daily basis than in the district’s schools, where hallways once dominated by white students have become increasingly diverse. One indicator: 37 languages are spoken by district students.
In the past three years, Worthington’s high school enrollment has grown by 19% and middle school enrollment has grown by 9%, while elementary enrollment has been stable, according to figures from the Minnesota Department of Education. About 3,400 students are enrolled in the district, while the maximum design capacity of its schools is about 3,100 students.
Much of that space pressure comes from a rush of unaccompanied minors from other countries. In the past six years, more than 400 immigrant children have arrived in Nobles County without parents. On a per capita basis, that’s the second-most of any county in the U.S., according to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.