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Before President Obama left for Kenya and Ethiopia, Minnesota lawmakers urged him to prioritize human rights on the trip. "Minnesota is home to a large Ethiopian and Somali diaspora that adds rich cultural diversity to our state," their letter states. "We … ask that when you visit Africa you address issues of concern for our Ethiopian and Somali communities."

The letter is signed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Tim Walz and Tom Emmer. It asks Obama to address the Kenyan government's discrimination against Somali refugees and to urge the Ethiopian prime minister to allow freedom of the press, and stop political prosecutions and excessive force by law enforcement.