As President Donald Trump considered ending a work-permit program for young undocumented immigrants last week, a group of Minnesota lawmakers pushed back, issuing a joint statement demanding that "U.S. immigration policy reflect our state's values and our humanity."
It was the latest in a series of public comments on hot-button issues from a group that calls itself the POCI — People of Color and Indigenous — caucus, made up of 14 members of the Legislature. The group formed in April, aiming to bring more attention to communities they say are often underrepresented in the Legislature and in decisions made by state government.
Rep. Fue Lee, a first-term DFLer from Minneapolis, said issues like the future of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy are often personal issues for POCI members. Lee, born in a refugee camp in Thailand, came to the U.S. as a baby. As a lawmaker, he said he's met people with similar backgrounds living and working in communities from Minneapolis to Worthington to Willmar.
He said the creation of the new caucus has prompted more people of color to reach out to their lawmakers — and might even move some to run for office.
"There are potential candidates who attend our forums and listening sessions," he said.
The group has weighed in this summer on the violence at a march of white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Va., and on the not-guilty verdict of the police officer involved in the shooting death of Philando Castile, among other issues.