- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A new report shows that refugees have significantly contributed to the economy of the Twin Cities and the nation overall.

The Center for American Progress and the Fiscal Policy Institute’s report shows that refugee men find work quickly, often exceeding the rate of U.S.-born men, Minnesota Public Radio (https://bit.ly/2fe3PiB ) reported. And refugees from Bosnia, Laos, Myanmar and Somalia have been part of the economic revitalization of Minneapolis and St. Paul, according to the report.

Among them are refugee brothers Kaw Hai and Soe Doh, who were born in the Karen state of Myanmar and own their own auto repair shop. They work long hours at their business, and Doh said he considers himself extremely fortunate. Doh said he didn’t witness much violence like many other refugees and was able to get an education and become a business.

“To say that refugees are not hard at work, you know, you can’t,” he said. “You can’t generalize about refugees, because we have a lot of American people that don’t like to work. They know English and don’t want to work. It’s even worse than being a refugee who doesn’t like to work.”

Prior to coming to the U.S., the brothers and their family were running from the Burmese government, Doh.

“This is my country,” he said. “This is the only country that I am able to have a solid paper that I can look at and say, ‘Oh, that’s my name. I’m a U.S. citizen.’”

Refugees from Myanmar had the most improved wages of the four groups, with recently arrived male refugees earning a median salary of $23,000 annually. Men who have been in the U.S. for a decade earn more than double that wage.

Minnesota Budget Project policy analyst Clark Biegler said refugees are often portrayed as people who don’t work or pay taxes. But reports show they are participating in the economy by becoming business owners and trying to make a new life.

“Sometimes the message that gets sent in the media is that they’re takers, they’re taking too much of services, they’re not paying taxes and not always working, but in fact the opposite is true,” Biegler said.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, https://www.mprnews.org



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