Thousands of Somali refugees live and work in Minnesota. Somali refugees have
been coming to Minnesota since the early 1990’s when violence and famine erupted in Somalia. Today
Minneapolis, Minnesota is home to one of the largest Somali populations outside of Somalia, and
Eden Prairie, Minnesota has the largest Somali population within the suburbs of the Twin Cities.
Voluntary agencies, also known as VOLAGs, contract with the U.S. government to resettle refugees
across the country. What effects, if any, does the VOLAG system have on refugees? Can the refugee
resettlement process be improved? How successfully do refugees integrate in America? All of these
are important questions that should be answered when thousands of taxpayer dollars fund the
Thus, it is important that we understand how to have the best resettlement program possible for
taxpayers, and most importantly for the future refugees who come to the U.S. This study asks the
primary research question: Can being resettled in a suburban versus urban community be advantageous
to Somali refugees? In order to answer this, a professional opinion of an employee of a local
resettlement agency is gathered. Additionally, census and education data of Somali residents living
in Eden Prairie and the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis is analyzed and compared.
Also, an online survey is conducted of Somali residents of both communities to determine if there
are any major differences in demographic information between the two. These results are combined to
conclude that resettling refugees in suburban communities may be beneficial to refugees because
there is a link between higher incomes and education levels of Somali residents
living in Eden Prairie compared to the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
Implications of Refugee Resettlement Policy in Urban and Suburban Communities: A Study of Somali People Living in Eden Prairie and Minneapolis.
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