former residents of the Soviet Union now in Minnesota
Refugees from the former Soviet Union came to the United States through the Lautenberg Amendment, a provision under the 1990 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act. This program closed to new applications at the end of May, 2011, however, cases that had been previously approved under the program are still arriving. The Lautenberg Amendment gave refugee status to citizens of the former Soviet Union belonging to certain religious groups which had been persecuted by the Communist government. The categories protected by the U.S. include Jews, Evangelical Christians, and Ukrainian Catholics and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians who have immediate family members lawfully residing in the United States. To come to the U.S. as a refugee under this agreement, one must prove that he or she is a member of one of these protected categories but does not need to prove well-founded fear of persecution as an individual.
Refugees resettling in Minnesota under the Lautenberg Amendment most commonly come from the countries of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine. These Russian-speaking refugees are reuniting with their family members, many of whom are well established in the west metro area. The most recent data shows that the Russian-speaking community in Minnesota has grown to over 12,500 (The Minneapolis Foundation).
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