Appleton alder: Deportations a "death sentence" to Hmong residents

By  | 

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Local democratic leaders and members of the Hmong community are urging Congressional leaders and President Donald Trump to oppose deportations of thousands of Hmong and Lao residents in the United States.

Maiyoua Thao, Appleton alder. (WBAY Photo)

State Rep. Amanda Stuck (D-Appleton), Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson and Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich were among the democrats to speak at a news conference with Hmong leaders Tuesday in Appleton.

"Hmong people are here because they served us," says Stuck. "Because they fought along our soldiers. They're veterans just like our veterans are. They were there for us when we needed them and now we need to be there for them. And it's absolutely unacceptable to be targeting members of the Hmong community for deportation."

Stuck says democrats plan to put forward a resolution in the legislature condemning plans for deportations that could impact about 4,500 Hmong people nationwide. Those impacted are not U.S. citizens, but have been longtime residents of the United States. Hmong people who have been convicted of a crime would face possible deportation.

The discussion of deportations comes after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saleumxay Kommasith, a foreign minister from Laos. They negotiated a possible deal that would result in the return of Hmong to Laos.

Many Hmong people came to the United States as refugees. Hmong soldiers fought alongside the United States during the Vietnam War. They fled Laos to escape persecution.

Thousands of Hmong settled in Wisconsin. There are an estimated 50,000 Hmong in the state.

Alderperson Maiyoua Thao represents Appleton's District 7. She says the United States is home to the Hmong and they would face persecution by the Communist government of Laos upon return.

"The United States is a Hmong homeland now. Hmong are living in a new country among millions of Americans who came to the United States before them," Thao says.

"If the United States deport Hmong to Laos, this indicates the United States is giving the Hmong person a death sentence or a death penalty."

Just last month republican Senator Roger Roth introduced a bill in Appleton designating May 14th as Hmong-Lao Veterans Day in Wisconsin.

In reaching out to other republican lawmakers, Senator Ron Johnson said he urges the Trump Administration to "Act carefully and judiciously to ensure law-abiding Hmong in the United States legally are treated fairly."