How Refugees Contribute to Our Community:

         Every refugee has their own unique story. Whatever their reasons, they have been forced to leave their homes because it was and, for some, still is deemed unsafe for them to return. 

         As refugees arrive in the third resettlement country, they come hoping to be accepted by the people and to have a permanent place to call their home. With them, they bring new opportunities, new ideas, diversity and revenue to the local city and state they reside in.  


The idea that refugees take jobs and opportunities away from citizens is a false statement. Instead, refugees are known to fill in the gap where it is needed most in the U.S. job market. According to Susan Bower, a Minnesota State Demographer, new residents whether they move from state to state or from another country are vital to making Minnesota’s economy flourish. Without them, employers struggle to find employees.

Because most refugees are unable to speak the language of the country they resettle in, many of them tend to take jobs that don’t require them to be proficient in speaking the language. They are often jobs in factories, cleaning, restaurants, construction, and other laborious positions. Government provided programs and Nonprofit Organizations, like KOM offer classes in construction, soldering, CNA and interpreter training to allow for other opportunities.   

Aside from filling the gap of the job market, refugees also bring to their community more employment as some of them go on to be entrepreneurs 

With successful employment, they can contribute to their economy through their consumerism and their payment of state, local and federal taxes. 

Lastly, refugees also bring diversity to their communities. Diversity allows for the reduction of discrimination, the discovery of new ideas and innovations which allows progression to occur.

More importantly, as an appreciation to the community that accepted them, many refugees go on to give back to the community through their philanthropic work. 

 Hsaw Daw Mu, a parent-student connector for Marshall Public Schools, serves as an informant to his community to help them understand and navigate the public school system.  He has helped many families during his time of service and was awarded with the Civic Engagement Leadership award in 2017. 

Paw Wah Toe, co-director of the Karen Chemical Dependency Collaboration, also received the Civic Engagement Leadership award in 2017 for her efforts of ending drugs and alcohol use within the Karen community.  

 Tu Lor Eh Paw, a student at Bethel University, looks to change her classmates’ and her community’s views on refugees by sharing her story. She also serves as a mentor for young refugees through the Dream Refugee mentorship program. 

There is a beneficial reciprocity when it comes to accepting refugees, both for them and the community they live in.  

Unfortunately, last year was Minnesota’s lowest acceptance rate of refugees. The numbers are expected to decrease in the years to come under the current administration. 

This is a challenge, especially for families awaiting loved ones to join them here in the U.S.  

However, the vibrant refugee community we have here in Minnesota continues to grow as families grow and as people first settled in other states move to Minnesota. (Secondary migration – when refugees or immigrants move to Minnesota after first settling in a different state) 

Here at KOM, we continue to adapt to support the community’s development, challenges, and growth. We have seen many changes in this past decade, and we hope that our friends and neighbors here in Minnesota will continue to partner with us as we look forward to the possibilities ahead. 


Check out Karen Owned Businesses Here 

Check out KOM’s Employment Programs Here 

Check out how you can support KOM Here 

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