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Friday, April 16, 2010
Somalis in Minneapolis: their numbers are growing . . .
The St. Patrick’s Day festivities meant something much different for the couple in their 80s from Minneapolis than for the other revelers at the local American Legion Post on Florida’s Treasure Coast.
Within days the couple would be returning home to a Minnesota suburb now changed forever by the huge influx of Somali immigrants whose behavior had forced them to move from their familiar neighborhood.
“They are taught how to flush,” Marie (not her real name) said. She began to describe how the émigrés are taught how to use and flush a toilet, how to turn on kitchen faucets to get hot and cold water and how to use a stove in a house built in Somalia expressly to teach immigrants to the United States how to behave in their new surroundings
Then she went on to reminiscence on her over 80 years of living in her beloved country. One of 11 children of Eastern European descent, she said, “We spoke English.” The life she and her husband lived was one of hard work, diligence and respect for our country. When she said they had to move away from the home they worked hard to pay for, her voice became sadder. Describing how the Somalis bring home their groceries in the metal carts and just discard them along the streets and sidewalks, frustrated Marie. When she asked one woman why she didn’t return the carts, she was told that someone from the store always comes along and picks them up. In that small detail, Marie revealed a totally different mindset from America’s earlier immigrants than from what she and her husband were confronting today.
Somali immigration trends in Minnesota have exponentially grown from 1990 when fewer than 5,000 residents were born in Africa, to the estimated 25,000 Somali residents by 2004 “with no signs of slowing down.” Most are Sunni Muslims.
Brought initially to the northern state by do-gooder missionaries, the Somalis readily found welcoming social services, health and educational opportunities in the mostly left leaning state’s bureaucracy. But a far darker unintended consequence of Somali immigration has reared its head more