Welcoming refugees as new neighbors in Minnesota

Antonio Palma of Mexico, right, and Ahmed Ahmed of Sweden
Antonio Palma of Mexico, right, and Ahmed Ahmed of Sweden, raise their right hands in the air to pledge allegiance to the United States of America during a naturalization ceremony inside of the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minn. on Feb. 28, 2018.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2018

Refugees don’t always come to mind when we think of Sept. 11, 2001. But they are one of the ongoing consequences of the “war on terror” that followed al-Qaida’s attacks on U.S. soil. The two decades of conflict since 9/11 forced tens of millions of people to flee their homes — most recently from Afghanistan. 

By the end of September, an estimated 50,000 Afghan refugees are expected to arrive in the United States. Some are being resettled in Minnesota, where they will join earlier waves of refugees who made new lives in the state, including Hmong, Karen and Somali people.

MPR host Angela Davis talks about what it’s like to arrive in a new country after fleeing violence, how refugees add to the cultural and economic fabric of the state and how Minnesotans can welcome them.

A number of grassroots efforts and organizations in Minnesota are collecting money to support Afghan refugees. The public can also find ways to help by contacting the nonprofit organizations that run the official refugee resettlement programs in the state: Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, International Institute of Minnesota, Arrive Ministries, Minnesota Council of Churches and Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota.


  • Sia Her is executive director of the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans. She came to the U.S. as a refugee from Laos.  

  • Muna Mohamed is a licensed professional clinical counselor with a practice in St. Louis Park focusing on immigrant and refugee clients. She came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia. 

  • Jane Graupman is the executive director of the International Institute of Minnesota, one of several agencies that help refugees resettle in the state.

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