Rep. Ilhan Omar Leads Letter Opposing Hmong and Lao Deportations
WASHINGTON—Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), James P. McGovern, Angie Craig, Gwen Moore, Betty McCollum, Andy Levin, Alan Lowenthal, Ron Kind, andRashida Tlaib sent a letter to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) today about reports that the administration is preparing “reintegration” facilities so that they can deport Hmong and Lao people to a country where they don’t speak the language or have family.
The Trump Administration is reportedly negotiating with Laos in an effort to deport people thousands of Hmong-Americans to the country. In the past, Laos has said that they only wanted to accept people if they spoke Lao and had family connections. There are approximately 300,000 Hmong people in the U.S. More than 66,000 live in Minnesota and the overwhelming majority are citizens.
“I have been monitoring this situation carefully—and will do everything I can to stand up to this President on behalf of our Lao and Hmong community,” Rep. Omar said. “It is our responsibility to ensure our international agencies are following our laws and abiding by human rights standards. We intend to find out exactly what the Trump administration is planning – and that they are abiding by US law and international human rights. But the scariest part is that we don’t know what the Trump administration is planning yet. That’s what we intend to find out with this letter.”
You can read the full letter below and here.
February 28, 2020
The Honorable Mark Green
U.S. Agency for International Development
Ronald Reagan Building, Suite 610
Dear Administrator Green:
We write to express our concern and ask questions regarding efforts by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to expand “reintegration” facilities for those deported from the U.S. to Laos.
For years, our constituents have heard about negotiations with the Laos government to finalize a repatriation agreement. In the absence of such an agreement, rumors have abounded about the U.S.-Laos relationship and the fate of thousands of our Hmong and Lao neighbors. Most recently, our offices have been informed that USAID is preparing “reintegration” facility to help those deported – and especially people who do not speak Lao or family connections – reintegrate into Laos society.
We have serious concerns about these actions, and we request a response to the following questions by March 10, 2020.
- How advanced are USAID’s plans to set up these “reintegration” centers? Specifically, how many are in operation to date, and how many additional centers does USAID plan to start?
- How many people has USAID served through these centers to date?
- How many people does USAID eventually expect to serve at these centers on an annual basis?
- Considering the lack of a formal repatriation agreement with Laos, under what agreement USAID carrying out these plans?
- What source of funding is USAID using to contract for these centers? Has USAID received Congressional authorization to use funds for such activities?
- What safety considerations has USAID undertaken to ensure that deportees, and especially Hmong refugees, are secure from threats of violence, harassment, and intimidation?