Several members of Congress are moving to delay the Trump administration’s efforts to deport more than 4,700 people back to Laos.
On Friday, they introduced legislation that would delay the planned deportations by six years while Lao and Hmong residents with final orders for removal have their immigration cases reassessed. The White House is pressuring Laos to sign a repatriation agreement to accept Lao and Hmong immigrants who have old deportation orders that immigration authorities had not carried out.
The targeted people are not American citizens and were largely ordered for removal after being convicted of crimes.
“It is a betrayal of the courage and sacrifice of our Hmong and Lao veterans and their families for the Trump administration to deport anyone to Laos,” said U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a St. Paul Democrat and one of the sponsors of the measure. “This is a dangerous policy that will tear Hmong and Lao families apart, and I will do everything I can to stop it.”
Sia Lo, her Hmong-American Republican opponent, accused McCollum last week of pushing the issue only after he announced he would challenge her in November’s congressional election.
Lo said in a statement that the legislation could have been introduced years earlier, adding that “it is typical in election years for members of Congress to make a big deal on introducing legislation in order to take credit for the perception of solving a problem.” But he also said that he hopes McCollum champions passage of the legislation.