Senator Foung Hawj (DFL-St. Paul) today joined Release MN8, Voices for Racial Justice, and the Coalition of Asian American Leaders in denouncing a new Trump Administration policy proposal that targets Southeast Asian American refugees for deportation. In response to this development, Sen. Hawj prepared the following statement for a press conference with advocacy organizations that took place earlier today.
“I regret being unable to join you all today, however, I support Release MN8, Voices for Racial Justice, the Coalition of Asian American Leaders, and all the organizations, community members, and impacted families here today. We call on the Trump Administration to immediately stop the senseless deportation of refugees.
I implore my legislative and community colleagues to actively work with our Mayors, our incoming Governor Tim Walz, Lt. Governor-elect Peggy Flanagan, and Attorney General Keith Ellison to do everything we can to protect our Southeast Asian community members. The Trump administration’s aggressive policies toward Southeast Asian American families, other immigrants, and refugees of color are degrading and dehumanizing. These policies are un-Minnesotan, un-American, and have no place in our state and our country.
Where is the compassion of our country? I believe, “When you have done your time, you have repaid your debt to society”. Yet, families continue to be torn apart and threatened by the Trump administration. The Southeast Asian Americans currently being held have paid their dues, done their time, and should be allowed to live their lives as lawful citizens, here in the US, with their families.
In 2008, President Bush negotiated the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), protecting Vietnamese community members who arrived before 1995 from deportation. This MOU must be defended by our institutions and our people.
Our state is blessed to have well over 100,000 Hmong, Lao, Cambodian, and Vietnamese Americans making Minnesota their home. They are Minnesotans contributing to the economic vitality and cultural richness of our state. It should also be noted that as a direct result of the Vietnam War, Southeast Asians represent the largest resettled community of refugees in U.S. history.
It is long overdue for all of us to come up with a strategic plan for Minnesota to protect the rights of all of its citizens. We must continue to be a beacon of light. We must continue to aspire daily for justice and fairness. Our stories will not be silenced. We will not be silenced. We still have so much to do. I am ready to do this vital work and I know we all are too.
Thank you for being here today. I look forward to the working with you all.”