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Suburbs in MN Adapting to Meet Immigrant Needs

Roughly 7,200 refugees from Myanmar live in Minnesota. Many have settled in the suburb of Roseville, where local government is working to meet their needs. (gavelclub.org)
Roughly 7,200 refugees from Myanmar live in Minnesota. Many have settled in the suburb of Roseville, where local government is working to meet their needs. (gavelclub.org)
December 9, 2019

ROSEVILLE, Minn. -- Census figures show several Twin Cities suburbs have seen double-digit increases in their immigrant and refugee populations in recent years. As new residents stream in from around the world, local governments are adapting to meet their needs.

In Roseville, a suburb north of St. Paul, there's been significant growth in the population of refugees from Myanmar. City Manager Patrick Trudgeon said they've gone to great lengths to make sure these residents have positive interactions with city hall. That includes seeking feedback on how to handle notifications on where to park during snow emergencies.

"Oftentimes, where it is most impacted, where there's no parking options or people don't get the message then get the ticket, are around multi-family units, and oftentimes, those house immigrant populations,” Trudgeon said. “So we did some purposeful engagement in certain apartment buildings and literally dropped off door-hangers at each unit in three different languages."

Trudgeon said a challenge is trying to convey that city hall wants to be helpful when many immigrants are coming from countries where there were major barriers to trusting government. In addition to outreach, Roseville is working with the League of Minnesota Cities in a national program to train municipalities on how to advance racial equity through local government.

Elsewhere in the metro area, the city of Richfield has seen a nearly 10% increase in its Latino population since 2000. Mayor Maria Regan Gonzalez said like Roseville, they're taking part in training programs to attract more city workers who reflect the newer residents they're serving.

"One of those areas that we're really looking at is making sure that we are much more inclusive and broad in our hiring practices,” Gonzalez said.

Immigrant advocates say there's still a lot to do. A major concern is in schools, where there's a shortage of minority teachers. That has led to legislative efforts to make sure children of immigrants feel welcome too.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN