Publish date:

Washington Post article sparks campaign to help immigrant children of Worthington

The article described tensions among locals about the city's recent influx of immigrants.
Author:
Worthington's main street in 2007.

Worthington's main street in 2007.

A Washington Post article highlighting the discontentment felt by some locals in Worthington following the recent increase in the immigrant population has sparked a campaign to help immigrant children in the southern Minnesota city.

Kate O'Reilly, a content strategy business owner in Minneapolis, launched "The Worthington Project" this week, after reading the article in Sunday's Washington Post titled: "Immigrant kids fill this town's schools. Their bus driver is leading the backlash."

You can read the full story here, but the story focuses on the reaction of longtime Worthington residents who have seen an influx of immigrants in recent years, boosting the city's population at a time when surrounding areas are declining.

But it has brought with it increasing tensions among longtime residents unhappy with the changes they're seeing in their town.

Among those interviewed was 71-year-old Don Brink, a school bus driver who among other things said he wished there would be "another ICE raid ... to get rid of the illegals."

"That’s why we have all these food pantries, because of all these people we are supporting. I have to feed my own kids," he added.

The plight of unaccompanied and undocumented immigrant children in the city has inspired the aid campaign from O'Reilly, who has raised more than $4,000 in the space of a few days to help.

She has connected with a group of English-as-a-second-language teachers, the Church of. St. Mary community, and the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, who she hopes will connect her to families in need in the city.

"When I read this story in The Washington Post this morning about Worthington, MN, I knew I had to act," wrote O'Reilly, herself a mother-of-two.

"While I do not know the beneficiaries personally yet, I hope to know them. I simply can't bear to imagine a child anywhere waking up or going to bed hungry. I can't imagine them boarding a bus driven by a man who wishes for ICE raids on them.

"I can't imagine the trauma they've already been through to get here to safety and then not have it be safe. I don't know how this happened, but I know that I have to do something."

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

As the article notes, Worthington has received "more unaccompanied minors per capita than almost anywhere in the country," per federal data, many of them having crossed the U.S.-Mexico border.

At the same time, efforts to expand the schools to accommodate the children have been rejected five times by voters, with the article noting the city's tax base is still heavily reliant on the area's farmers, who have been among the "driving forces" behind efforts against local tax hikes.

The money raised by O'Reilly will be used to buy food, clothing, comfort items and needed supplies for the unaccompanied children, who she notes most of whom are living with distant relatives "and are awaiting immigration hearings."

She is seeking to connect with the families so she actually gets the supply they need, noting there is a "deeply rooted history of white folks like me wanting to help communities they aren't a part of."

"This can result in white folks showing up with what they think the community needs without first connecting to that community, asking what is needed, and asking if help is welcome."

You can find out more about The Worthington Project here.

Next Up

Piper Cherokee

UND student killed in plane crash near Minnesota border

The crash happened Monday night just west of the Minnesota border.

fake airpods

Border officials seize hundreds of fake AirPods at International Falls

The AirPods were in a rail container headed for Ranier.

Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen

With Patrick Peterson injured, Vikings need to unleash the offense

Peterson's absence could have a bigger effect on the opposite side of the ball.

Cam Wiley

Gophers running back Cam Wiley announces plan to transfer

Wiley found himself buried on the depth chart.

sun country

Sun Country adds 7 new routes from MSP Airport this spring

It's also resuming four routes from the Twin Cities.

Walz, Flanagan

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz launches re-election campaign

Their campaign slogan: "One Minnesota. Moving Forward."

ambulance

Driver dies in single-vehicle crash in Ham Lake

The crash happened around 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Yia Vang - media photo - crop 2

Union Hmong Kitchen will move into Mpls. food hall

Chef Yia Vang said they're "so excited to settle in and have a home."

ISSAboveYou - Duluth North Shore - Oct 18 2021

Watch: Mille Lacs, Duluth captured in stunning video from ISS

The space station provides a vantage point 260 miles above the Earth's surface.

Related

Screen Shot 2020-01-30 at 11.02.19 PM

Judge: MN county broke law by detaining, transferring immigrants to ICE

The immigrants were detained even after they had earned their release.

Worthington minnesota

6th time's a charm: Worthington finally approves school investment

The southern Minnesota city has seen its student numbers explode due to inward immigration.

'Driver's Licenses for All' campaign launched at the capitol

It would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver's license in Minnesota.

JBS Pork

JBS pork plant in Worthington set to partially re-open this week

The plant has been shut down since a major coronavirus outbreak.

JBS Pork

JBS USA announces closure of coronavirus-hit Worthington plant

The pork processing plant has seen a growing number of cases.

Ice cream truck vandalized, owners harassed for being immigrants

The mother and daughter have been supported by Mayor Jacob Frey.

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 10.38.01 PM

Worthington settles police brutality lawsuit for $590,000, agrees to reforms

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Kelvin Francisco Rodriguez, who spent five days in the ICU after being arrested.