Imagine fleeing the very real threat of dying young in your home country, leaving a family behind to join some relative you hardly know, then having an old man resent you because you're... getting on the school bus.
Meet Don Brink, 71, a pig farmer and school bus driver in southwestern Minnesota's Worthington (pop. 13,000). Readers of the Washington Post were introduced to Brink in a lengthy Sunday story exploring the predicament in Worthington's Nobles County, which since 2013 has taken in upwards of 400 minors seeking asylum, most from Central America.
The wheels on the bus go round and round, but Don Brink is stuck in his ways,l istening to oldies and lamenting in the Post's story, explaining he doesn't offer greetings to the "strange kids I've never seen before," that the youths "had no business leaving home in the first place," and that he's rooting for "another ICE raid" to "get rid of the illegals."
Also: Wait for the part where someone threatens to kill (!) a Catholic priest, just like Jesus would.
Not that Don cares, but in saying he wants "illegals" deported, he's likely invoking the Fox & Friends-friendly term for undocumented immigrants. These kids he's driving to school aren't immigrants. They're refugees, "fleeing war, violence, or persecution."
Also: They're kids!
Nobles is the second-highest location per capita for resettlement of child refugees in America. It's not going well: Schools are overrun, "bursting at the seams," according to Worthington Mayor Mike Kuehle.
Despite the swelling school population, residents refuse to spend to accomodate asylum seekers: In six years, five referendums to raise property taxes have failed, including a $79 million bond request in 2016 to pay for a new high school, among other things.
The loudest critics of plans to raise and spend more on local education also happen to have the most money at stake. Farmers dominate land ownership in the area, and would've seen a property tax increase of $26 per acre, per year. In years past, opponents like Brink have hired deeply creepy consultant Paul Dorr, a book-burning, Y2K-fearing Iowa bigot who literally thinks of public schools, and government, period, as an affront to God.
Whether Dorr's on retainer for an upcoming referendum, to be held in November, isn't noted in the Post's story, though the most recent levy failed by just 17 votes.
As of the last census, the town was more than one-third Latino, and only 20 percent of students at a middle school Don Brink picks up at are white. If Don wants to save the Worthington he grew up in, he'll need a time machine.