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Last reviewed June 2014

Resources on Minnesota Issues
Immigrants in Minnesota

Legislative History     Books and Reports    Articles    Internet Resources    Additional Library Resources

This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library on a topic of interest to Minnesota legislators. It is designed to provide an introduction to the topic, directing the user to a variety of sources, and is not intended to be exhaustive.

The story of immigration to the United States began before the founding of the nation and continues today. As this story has evolved, the nation has been continuously challenged to evaluate immigration policies. Over the past several decades there have been ongoing efforts to reform the immigration system to ensure that it meets the needs of the nation, and of the newest legal immigrants. One focus of national attention is illegal immigration. Policy makers at both the federal and state levels of government continue to examine the many issues surrounding this complex topic.

Minnesota's first large groups of immigrants arrived from Europe, primarily Norway, Sweden, and Germany. Today, the majority of Minnesota's immigrants arrive from Mexico. Minnesota's current immigrant population is growing at a faster pace than the national average. A contributing factor is the large number of refugees that have settled in the state. Minnesota has the largest Somali population in the United States, as well as the second largest United States Hmong population. The Somali refugees began coming to Minnesota in the early 1990s after the collapse of the government resulted in extreme violence. The Hmong people began arriving in Minnesota in the mid-1970s, when the country of Laos was taken over by communist powers.

Minnesota Immigrants - Top 3 Countries of Birth (2012)
Mexico 16.6%
India 7.6%
Vietnam 4.4%
Data Source: Migration Policy Institute tabulations of the U.S. Bureau of the Census' American Community Survey (ACS) and Decennial Census.

As the state's demographics change, education is an increasing concern. Minnesota must address the challenge of teaching more students learning English as a second language to preempt a widening gap in educational achievement. Minnesota's immigrant population is an increasing portion of the state's labor force and will also be an important economic driver in the future. The Minnesota State Demographic Center predicts that "more than 63,000 additional net migrants" will be needed by 2020 to prevent reductions in the state's labor force growth rate due to retiring Baby Boomers. (In the Shadow of the Boomers: Minnesota's Labor Force Outlook)

In 2013, the state Legislature passed the Minnesota Dream Act (also known as the Minnesota Prosperity Act), 2013 Laws of Minnesota chapter 99, article 4, section 1, which makes certain undocumented students eligible for in-state tuition rates and provides them the opportunity to apply for state financial aid. In 2014, the state Legislature also focused on the education of immigrants by enacting additional measures to improve the academic performance of English learners (2014 Laws of Minnesota, chapter 272, article 1).

The intent of this guide is to provide a list of recent resources on the topic of immigration. While the focus is decidedly on Minnesota, comprehensive national studies are also included.

Legislative History

Links to current laws (there may be additional statutes and rules that are not listed here):


Minnesota Statutes, Immigration; Refugees

Minnesota Rules, Refugees

Key Laws

2013 Laws of Minnesota chapter 99, article 4, section 1

See enacted state laws and resolutions since 2008 in the NCSL Immigration Enactments Database

Significant Books and Reports


Allen, Ryan. The Unraveling of the American Dream: Foreclosures in the Immigrant Community of Minneapolis. Minnesota: University of Minnesota, 2009. (HG2040.5.U62 M562 2009)

Chun, Randall and Danyell Punelli LeMire. Eligibility of Noncitizens for Health Care and Social Services Programs. St. Paul: Research Dept., Minnesota House of Representatives, Revised: 2011. (KF4800.Z9 C58 2011)

Corrie, Bruce P. and Sarah Radosevich. The Economic Contributions of Immigrants in Minnesota. St. Paul, MN : Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota Business Immigration Coalition, 2013. (JV6471 .C67 2013)

Economic Impact of Immigrants. St. Paul: Office of the Legislative Auditor, Program Evaluation Division, 2006. (JV6471.E26 2006)

Educating Minnesota's Immigrant Students: Phase 1: Challenges and Opportunities. St. Paul, MN: Citizens League, 2007. (LC3732.M6 I56 2007)

Educating Minnesota's Immigrant Students: Phase 2: Solutions. St. Paul, MN: Citizens League, 2009. (LC3732.M6 I56 2009)

Fennelly, Katherine. The Economic Impact of Immigrants in Minnesota. Minnesota: Minnesota Business Immigration Reform Coalition, 2010. (JV6471.F46 2010)

Immigrant Health, A Call to Action: Recommendations from the Minnesota Immigrant Health Task Force. Minneapolis: Minnesota Dept. of Health, Minnesota Immigrant Health Task Force, 2005. (RA418.5.T73 I46 2005)

The Impact of Illegal Immigration on Minnesota: Costs and Population Trends. St. Paul: Office of Strategic Planning and Results Management, Minnesota Department of Administration, 2005. (JV7012.I47 2005) (This report generated quite a lot of discussion including a response from Governor Pawlenty and many newspaper articles - see two in our Significant Articles section).

Johnson, Ryan et al. Improving Access to Minnesota Health Care Programs for Hispanic/Latino Communities. St. Paul: Minnesota Dept. of Human Services; Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, August 2008. (RA638.I47 2008)

A New Age of Immigrants: Making Immigration Work for Minnesota. Minneapolis: The Minneapolis Foundation, August, 2010. (JV7012.N49 2010)

Moving from Exclusion to Belonging: Immigrant Rights in Minnesota Today. Minneapolis, MN: The Advocates for Human Rights, March 2014. (F615.A1 M68 2014)

Noncitizens and Minnesota Law: A Guide for Legislators. St. Paul: Research Dept., Minnesota House of Representatives, 2004. (KF4800.Z9 N66 2004)

Public Health Care Eligibility Determination for Noncitizens: Evaluation Report. St. Paul: Office of the Legislative Auditor, Program Evaluation Division, 2006. (KF4800.P83 2006)


Kochhar, Rakesh. Growth in the Foreign-Born Workforce and Employment of the Native Born. Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, 2006. (HD8081.A5 K63 2006)

More Harm than Good: Responding to States' Misguided Efforts to Regulate Immigration. National Employment Law Project, 2007.

Yearbook of Immigration Statistics. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics. (REF JV6461.S8)

Significant Articles

Beal, Dave. "Immigration Reform: Minnesota's Changing Face of Labor." MinnPost, August 7, 2013.

Cameron, Linda A. "Common Threads: The Minnesota Immigrant Experience." Minnesota History, Fall 2010, p.96-106.

Guntzel, Jeff Severns. "Interactive Map: Where are Minnesota's Immigrants Coming From?", April 18, 2011.

Hoyt, Joshua. "We are America: Immigrants and Social Capital in the United States Today." National Civic Review, Spring 2009, p. 14-24 (from a NCR Special Issue: Diversity, Social Capital, and Immigrant Integration).

"Illegal Immigration: Do Illegal Workers Help or Hurt the Economy?" CQ Researcher, May 6, 2005, p. 393-420.

"Illegal Workers: State Efforts to Enforce Immigration Law". Supreme Court Debates, Vol. 14, No. 1, January, 2011.

"Is Immigration Good for America?" (Twelve articles within this issue explore the topic of immigration). The CATO Journal, Winter, 2012.

Johnson, Fawn. "States Step into the Void: Faced with Inaction at the Federal Level, State and Localities are Taking Matters Into their Own Hands on Immigration Policy." National Journal, October 16, 2010, p. 26-33.

"Our Changing Face: Immigration and Migration Shape a More Diverse Minnesota" (Four articles within this issue explore the topic). Minnesota Economic Trends, September, 2012.

Salisbury, Bill. "Pawlenty Immigration Report Ignites Firestorm: Study on Illegal Residents Angers Immigrants; DFL Accuses Governor of Creating Wedge Issue". St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 16, 2005, p. A1+.

Sweeney, Patrick. "Illegal Residents Cost State $175M: Study Comes as Pawlenty Prepares to Propose Changes". St. Paul Pioneer Press, December 9, 2005, p. A1+.

"States and Immigration Reform". State Policy Reports, Vol. 31, Issue 13 (entire issue), July, 2013.

Significant Internet Resources

Additional Library Resources

For historical information, check the following codes in the Newspaper Clipping File and the Vertical File:
I8 (Immigration), R50 (Refugees)

For additional reports at the Legislative Reference Library, use this Library catalog search:

Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, 645 State Office Building, Saint Paul, MN  55155