The New York Times recently sent one of its east-coast reporters to St. Cloud, Minnesota to report on the frustration some residents have with the influx of refugees settling there.
The article begins by noting that a “few thousand” refugees “moved into this small city.”
But a few paragraphs later The Times writes:
St. Cloud, the state’s 10th largest city, increased in population by 33 percent over the last 30 years, to roughly 70,000 people. The share of nonwhite residents grew to 18 percent from 2 percent, mostly with East African immigrants from Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia, and the numbers of Somalis are estimated to grow.
According to the City of St. Cloud, the estimated 2019 population is 67,924, so a population of 18 percent East African immigrants would be 12,226. A jump from 2 percent of the population to 18 percent would be an increase in 10,868. The actual number of refugees is likely a bit lower, but not as low as the “few thousand” reported by The Times.
According to U.S. Census estimates, the number of foreign-born residents as of 2017 was 6,865.
Additionally, between 2000 and 2012, the population of the City of St. Cloud grew by an estimated 11.3 percent, making it the fourth fastest growing city in Minnesota. It’s expected to add another 2,000-plus residents between 2010 and 2019.
St. Cloud is now the third largest Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in Minnesota. Between 2000 and 2012, the St. Cloud MSA grew by 20.7 percent and is expected to expand by another 25 percent between 2010 and 2030. Between 2010 and 2019, the St. Cloud MSA gained an estimated 11,699 additional residents in just nine years.
Over the last 30 years, the estimated population of the City of St. Cloud has jumped from 48,812 to 67,924, an increase in 19,112.
In response to The New York Times article, the editorial board of The St. Cloud Times – part of the Gannet-owned USA Today network – ran an article calling its own readers “cowards.”
“St. Cloud, we have a problem. And it’s costing us dearly in respect, dignity and treasure. Our problem is not refugees. It’s not even an image problem, although we most certainly have one of those. If you don’t think so, Google ‘St. Cloud’ and click on the first New York Times article at the top. Our real problem is that there are too many cowards in our midst,” the board wrote in a June 21 editorial, calling their readers “cowards” 14 times in one article.
“All of that gutless timidity by a vocal flock — and we do believe they are outnumbered by Central Minnesotans who can see someone who is “other” with enthusiastic curiosity or at worst benign disinterest — is what defines St. Cloud to the world now,” the board continues. “That’s going to cost us dearly if we don’t get a handle on it — rapidly.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to email@example.com.
Photo “St. Cloud Minnesota” by visitcloud.com.