A Washington Post article published in the Star Tribune (“As immigrant kids fill Worthington’s schools, bus driver leads the backlash,” Sept. 23) featured an anti-immigrant perspective that does not speak for all of Worthington, Minn. Immigrants keep Worthington strong, growing, and working — and many residents welcome them.
The Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota has worked in Worthington for more than a decade. We have seen many residents respond with welcome arms and generosity as one wave of immigrants after another arrived. This century’s immigrants reversed a decline in population and prosperity that threatened Worthington and that still characterizes too many rural communities.
Since 1990, Worthington’s population has grown from 10,000 to at least 13,000, pushed by foreign-born immigrants who make up at least one-third of the town’s residents. These immigrants come from Guatemala and Mexico, and also from Laos, Myanmar and Ethiopia. In all, they come from 80 different countries and speak more than 40 languages. They are young — with an average age of 36 — and hardworking. Immigrants make large contributions to the local economy and help make Worthington a vibrant and dynamic community.
Andrea Duarte is a daughter of immigrant parents. She moved back to Worthington after college and tells many immigrant stories on her website, “Stories from Unheard Voices.” Duarte is committed to full participation in the community where she grew up, a community that continues to grow through the contributions of immigrants.
While anti-immigrant sentiment is strong among those the Post article calls a “handful of white farmers in this Trump-supporting county,” that sentiment does not represent either the majority or the best part of Worthington. Immigrants remain a crucial part of Worthington’s past, its present and its hope for the future.
Veena Iyer is executive director, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.