By: Emerson Lehmann, WSAW
Following reports that the Trump Administration is in talks with the Laos to allow the deportation of non-naturalized Hmong immigrants who are under removal orders in the United States, members of the Hmong community are looking to elected officials for guidance.
Friday night at the Whitewater Music Hall in Wausau, Representative Katrina Shankland met with Portage County Board Supervisor Chai Moua, Stevens Point Area Public School District board member Ann Vang, and other members of the Hmong community to discuss both the deportation issue, as well as a bill in legislation that would require school districts to teach Hmong history in schools.
“Being able to hear discussion, here, from the community has been a big step forward for us,” said Moua. “To have a representative who has stepped up and being the driving force is helping create that sense of belonging for our folks, and this is a time that we need to actually feel that we belong here.”
Representative Shankland addressed a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding the Hmong deportation issue, noting that 35 other legislators signed on.
“This really tears apart community members and families, and it will have a long term effect on our community and our economy,” explained Shankland. “Central Wisconsin is very united in these efforts and I’m pleased that many people are interested in working on this issue together.”
Shankland called on the Trump Administration to provide information in writing describing what they’re working on as well as why they are doing it, adding she hopes the topic will not become a partisan issue like some are making it out to be.
“In this time, in 2020, to have to debate whether or not we should tear families apart is what strikes me the most,” Shankland said. “I think most people are very supportive of keeping families together. I think it’s a moral issue, first and foremost.”
Another issue discussed was a bill in the state legislature that would require schools to teach the history of the Hmong people, their migration, and their contributions to the community, culture and country.
“I did draft a resolution for the Stevens Point school board in regards to the education bill,” said board member Ann Vang. “That’s something that we really need to support and get our history into the districts.”
Vang says that the resolution is set to be discussed at the school board’s next meeting in March.