Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

February's Immigrant and Refugee Affairs Forum Highlights Afghan Evacuee Resources and Foreign Health Care Worker Grant Program


February 11, 2022

This month we heard from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety as well as a variety of updates from community partners and state agencies.

Updates from the Department of Public Safety

Pong Xiong from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Driver and Vehicle Services Division shared information regarding the requirements needed for resettled Afghan evacuees to obtain a Minnesota driver’s license or ID card. He also mentioned a supplemental budget proposal that would allow the collection of race data on license applications. This information would be shared with the office of Traffic Safety to be used in correlation with traffic stop data. This information would not be printed on license cards and it would not be available to law enforcement. This question would be optional on license applications. There is lots of interest and potential concern around this proposal and more information will be shared if the legislation is passed.

Internationally Trained Professionals Competitive Grant Program Overview

DEED’s Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Maureen Ramirez shared information on the Internationally Trained Professionals Competitive Grant Program. The Request for Proposal was reissued on Wednesday, February 9. The application will remain open until 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 28.

This program helps internationally trained health care workers earn the professional licenses required to do similar work in Minnesota – which will lead to more qualified health care workers available for this critical sector of the workforce.

The program will make grants up to $400,000 over two years to qualified organizations to assist internationally trained health care professionals in gaining licensure. Eligible organizations are state or local government units including two or four-year post-secondary institutions, nonprofit/community-based organizations, community action agencies, or labor organizations physically located in Minnesota and with experience serving immigrant and refugee populations.

An RFP Informational Webinar will be held on February 15 at 3:00 pm. For those not able to join, recordings of the virtual sessions will be available on DEED’s website.

Community Updates

Anjuli Cameron, Research Director at the Minnesota Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, spoke on her work with the Afghan evacuees’ resettlement in Minnesota. Donation items that are currently needed include belts for men and boys, toys for kids, bras for women, as well as professional clothing. Sewing machines and sewing kits are also in demand. Donations can be dropped off at the Holiday Inn Express in Bloomington at the front desk, day or night. There is also an option to purchase items for Afghan evacuees from Alight organization’s Amazon Wish List.

Lillian Otieno, Emerging Farmer Outreach and Engagement Coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), shared information about the new Emerging Farmers Working Group. This office was created to identify and break down barriers which have historically prevented existing MDA programs from reaching underrepresented communities. To learn more, attend their next public meeting on February 11 at 1pm via Microsoft Teams.

Michelle Rivero, Director of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs at the City of Minneapolis, shared about a municipal level monthly forum that gives updates and shares topics of interest to immigrant, refugee and new American communities. The next meeting is Tuesday, March 8 at 4:30pm.

Lisa Perez, Founder and CEO of Prosperity Ready, shared about her organization’s recently completed pilot program focused on supporting degreed immigrant job seekers. Their next cohort will launch in May. For more information reach out to Lisa via email to learn more about the program.

If you missed this month’s forum, watch the discussion on DEED’s YouTube channel.


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