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How a Small Midwestern City Was Smeared in the Unaccompanied-Minors Debate

Wilder, a 16-year-old unaccompanied minor migrant from Honduras, stands near other asylum-seeking minors from Central America awaiting transport to a Border Patrol processing facility after crossing the Rio Grande River in La Joya, Texas, March 25, 2021. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

Tucked away among the corn and soybean fields of southwest Minnesota, the city of Worthington looks in many ways like the epitome of small-town America.

Settled next to Lake Okabena, Worthington’s neighborhood streets are lined with maples, elms and cedar trees, and the brick downtown buildings are filled with local businesses.

There are plenty of jobs – in manufacturing, in bio-science, in health care – for the city’s 13,000 residents. A JBS meatpacking plant is the city’s largest employer.

But in 2019, during the last surge at the Southwest border, this small Minnesota city unwittingly found itself at the center of the national

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Ryan Mills is a media reporter at National Review. He previously worked for 14 years as a breaking news reporter, investigative reporter, and editor at newspapers in Florida. Originally from Minnesota, Ryan lives in the Fort Myers area with his wife and two sons.

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