MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of refugees living in Minnesota are concerned they face deportation due to federal actions.
News reports say the Trump administration is pressuring Vietnam to take back those who arrived between 1979 and 1995.
The concern isn’t just for Vietnamese refugees, but also for people from Cambodia, Laos, and Burma. Many of the people who spoke on Thursday were born in those countries but came to Minnesota when they were young.
“I’m a son of Minnesota. I’m a son of the East Side of St. Paul. And I’m also the son of Vietnamese immigrants who that wanted better,” Hoang Murphy said.
Calling the Trump Administration’s deportation approach “unjust” and “unfair,” speakers said they are worried about what lies ahead.
“Under this administration, deportation of Cambodia-American community members has risen to over 250 percent,” Jenny Srey of ReleaseMN8 said.
“Now ICE is trying to deport these family members for decades-old convictions for which they’ve already served their sentences long ago,” St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said.
People who attended the listening session in St. Paul said they are worried even a minor violation from years ago will be enough to send them back to a country they know nothing about.
“I have really no idea what the homeland is like. I don’t speak the language,” Thomas Yang said.
Yang came to St. Paul from Cambodia when he was 6 years old. His father fought alongside American troops during the Vietnam War, and was looking for a new and safer start for his family. Now, Yang is worried he may have to leave his own wife and kids behind.
“Who is going to provide for my kids? My wife? My parents are getting to the point where they need some elderly care,” Yang said.
Yang said he is a former business owner who has never been in trouble with the law. Still, he’s concerned for the future.
“We pay our taxes. We do this and that. We are just trying to live the American dream. Don’t take that away from us and our kids,” Yang said.