Last reviewed March 2017
Minnesota Issues Resource Guides
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 (2009-2013)
|Data Source: Migration Policy Institute tabulation of data from the U.S. Census Bureau's pooled 2009-2013 American Community Survey.
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.
Links to current laws (there may be additional statutes and rules that are not listed here):
Minnesota Statutes, Immigration; Refugees
Minnesota Rules, Refugees
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 and Karl Schuettler. Immigrants and Minnesota's Workforce. Minnesota: University of Minnesota, 2017. (F615.A1 A45 2017)
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)
Chun, Randall. Short Subjects: Emergency Medical Assistance. St. Paul: Research Dept., Minnesota House of Representatives, 2016. (HN79.M6 S56 2016)
Corrie, Bruce. P. The Economic Potential of African Immigrants in Minnesota. St. Paul, MN : [publisher not identified], 2015. (JV6471 C677 2015)
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, MN: Office of the Legislative Auditor, Program Evaluation Division, 2006. (JV6471.E26 2006)
Economic Status of Minnesotans: A Chartbook with Data for 17 Cultural Groups. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota State Demographic Center, 2016. (HA455 .E26 2016)
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 Contributions to Minnesota's Economy. Minnesota Business Immigration Coalition, Partnership for a New American Economy, and Americas Society/Council of the Americas, 2014.
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)
Bringing Vitality to Main Street: How Immigrant Small Businesses Help Local Economies Grow. Fiscal Policy Institute, January 2015. (HD2358.5.U6 K35 2015)
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)
(articles in reverse chronological order)
Cooney, Tony. "Minnesota Index: Immigration in Minnesota." Session Daily, April 24, 2017.
Montlake, Simon. "The State of US Immigration Reform: There are Many Aspects to Consider Beyond Illegal Immigration." The Christian Science Monitor Weekly, April 17, 2017, p. 17.
Preston, Julia. "States Are Divided by the Lines They Draw on Immigration." New York Times, March 29, 2015.
"Immigration Reform: The Debate Over Immigration Policies and Presidential Power." Congressional Digest, Vol. 94, No. 3, March, 2015.
Hirsi, Ibrahim. "Immigration Has Become a 'Driving Force' in Minnesota's Economy." MinnPost.com, December 22, 2014.
Beal, Dave. "Immigration Reform: Minnesota's Changing Face of Labor." MinnPost, August 7, 2013.
"States and Immigration Reform". State Policy Reports, Vol. 31, Issue 13 (entire issue), July, 2013.
"Is Immigration Good for America?" (Twelve articles within this issue explore the topic of immigration). The CATO Journal, Winter, 2012.
"Our Changing Face: Immigration and Migration Shape a More Diverse Minnesota" (Four articles within this issue explore the topic). Minnesota Economic Trends, September, 2012.
Guntzel, Jeff Severns. "Interactive Map: Where are Minnesota's Immigrants Coming From?" MinnPost.com, April 18, 2011.
"Illegal Workers: State Efforts to Enforce Immigration Law". Supreme Court Debates, Vol. 14, No. 1, January, 2011.
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.
Cameron, Linda A. "Common Threads: The Minnesota Immigrant Experience." Minnesota History, Fall 2010, p.96-106.
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).
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+.
Significant Internet Resources
- Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees - This Minnesota Historical Society Website presents excerpts from oral history interviews with recent MN immigrants, along with supporting information about each narrator, the communities, and immigration in general, in a format designed to be of greatest use to teachers and students in grades 4-12
- Green Card Voices - This Minneapolis-based nonprofit aims to foster understanding of the immigrant experience through digital storytelling
- Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research - At the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs
- Immigration & Language - State Demographic Center, Minnesota Department of Administration, great resource for statistics
- Immigration History Research Center - At the University of Minnesota
- Legal Topics: Immigration - Links to resources related to immigration from the Minnesota State Law Library
- New Americans in Minnesota: The Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the North Star State - Data compiled by the Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Council
- Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network - MIFN is a grass roots, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization
- Minnesota's Immigrants - Minnesota Digital Library
- New Americans Beat - MinnPost
- Refugee Health - Minnesota Department of Health
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: