Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde said politics wasn’t a factor in his invitation to attend President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday.
“It’s an honor for the city. This is what Brooklyn Park has been working for,” Lunde said. “You remove the politics and focus on what moves the city forward.”
Trump recently signed into law a measure important for Liberians, who make up about 9% of Brooklyn Park’s 80,600 residents. The law allows Liberians to apply for U.S. citizenship under the Deferred Enforced Departure program. The measure, included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, prevented the deportation of thousands of Liberians.
Following passage of the measure by the Democratic House and the Republican Senate, U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., who represents Brooklyn Park in Congress, invited Lunde to the State of the Union. It didn’t take long for Lunde to accept.
“In the days of divisive politics, we had to work together to get it done,” Lunde said. “For me, going to the State of the Union is a celebration of something that many, many people worked on.”
In the days leading up to the Senate vote, Lunde said that U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., was able to connect him on the phone with a White House staffer.
“The moral of my story is [that] we really as a city focus on working with people who work with us,” Lunde said.
Minnesota has been home to one of the largest Liberians populations in the United States ever since the 1990s, when many fled the country’s civil war. Lunde touts Brooklyn Park, with about 7,500 Liberians, as being the largest Liberian city outside Liberia itself.
“It’s a very big deal to our community,” he said.