OUTAGAMIE COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY ) - The Hmong community in Northeast Wisconsin is speaking out after reports the Trump Administration is in talks with the Laos government looking to deport thousands of Hmong refugees.
Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson sent a letter to Republican Senator Ron Johnson this week asking the senator to use his leadership position to protect the Hmong in our community.
Action 2 News spoke to Kou Vang who is a refugee, President of the Hmong American Partnership in Appleton, and has lived in the United States for more than forty years. He said he couldn't imagine getting deported to a place he doesn't really know.
“I myself am very scared because I grew up here in the states and this is all that I know, I speak English, I don’t speak Lao, just the thought of being deported back into Laos and having to live in third world country without the skill sets to live there is very frightening,” said Vang.
The U.S Census Bureau says there are about 49,000 Hmong people in Wisconsin and under the proposal, about 4,500 are eligible for deportation nationwide. The order is for non-citizens, those who have committed crimes, or have deportation orders against them.
“When I heard about this, and saw what was going on, it really concerned me and it really upset me because the Hmong are a really important part of our community,” said Tom Nelson, Outagamie County Executive.
Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson sent a letter to Republican Senator Ron Johnson saying he wants to see the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee hold a hearing. Nelson wants to know why this is being done now and why the Hmong community is singled out in the proposal.
“We’re here we’re here to stay and what a lot of the, of the 4,500 that they plan to deport, the vast majority of them have already turned their lives around, they have been tax payers, they own businesses, they have families, they are part of the community and to take that away, it’s inhumane,” said Vang.
Senator Johnson's office as a response, said it has reached out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for more information.
Johnson's office later sent the following statement to Action 2 News:
“I urge the Trump administration to act carefully and judiciously to ensure law-abiding Hmong in the United States legally are treated fairly. The Hmong community is an important part of the fabric of Wisconsin.”