MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE—The president* dropped by on Monday night to swap lies with the people who so love to be lied to. He kept it under an hour, which is a rare thing for him nowadays. However, back in Washington, his cruelty, which by now is a thing that lives and breathes and hates quite on its own, marched steadily onward. From :
In late January, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with Lao foreign minister Saleumxay Kommasith. In a , U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum said the administration "is negotiating with (Laos) to allow for the deportation of longtime Hmong and Lao residents of the United States back to the country of their birth." McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat, blasted the policy as "a direct attack on my constituents and their family members" and called the proposal "unconscionable." The proposal could reportedly affect who are not citizens and who have committed crimes or have deportation orders against them. These individuals have mostly been safe from deportation because of a long history of against the Hmong by the Communist government of Laos.
No group of people were so cruelly betrayed by our fiasco in Southeast Asia as were the Hmong. They fought in our wars for us there, and then, when we left, we cut them completely loose and left them at the mercy of their—and our—enemies. Since they fought in Laos, where we weren't supposed to be fighting, we disavowed them. Back in 2011, I wrote a piece for about how the Hmong refugees had become the keystone of a small high school's football dynasty in the hills of Arkansas. I met a man named Thong Moua, a Hmong farmer whose son, Charly, played for little Magazine High School. This is how Thong Moua became an American:
One day in 1972, government troops came to Thong Moua's village, Long Tieng, and told him he was a soldier. He was 13. He fought for three years in a stubborn, brave guerrilla action for which his people paid an almost unimaginable price. Some 35,000 Hmong soldiers died in battle, according to Keith Quincy, whose book Harvesting Pa Chay's Wheat is the best account of the war the Hmong waged on behalf of the U.S. That toll, Quincy points out, would be "comparable to America's having lost 16.5 million men in combat."
In 1975, when their forces were finally routed by the North Vietnamese, the Hmong fled into the hills and jungles, where almost a third of them died of starvation and disease. One of those refugees was Thong Moua, who spent nearly four years on the run until finally crossing the Mekong River into Thailand. "You stay in the jungle," he recalls, "because if they know you're a soldier, they kill you. If you go back home, they kill you."
Moua lived for a year in a refugee camp in Thailand. The Hmong fighters had been promised that if the war went sour, they'd be repatriated to the U.S. Like so many things about that time, that promise had a sell-by date. Only a few thousand Hmong were repatriated. The rest stayed in the camps, and life in the camps was nightmarish, in part because the Thai government didn't want the Hmong there, but also because some Hmong leaders involved themselves in the drug trade. Fortunately, charitable organizations, especially church groups, stepped in and sponsored the movement of thousands of other Hmong to the U.S.
A church group placed Moua in Rhode Island, and then he moved to Massachusetts, where he worked factory jobs and where Charly was born. Moua stayed there until he heard from his uncle that Tyson was offering land and farms for the Hmong to work in Arkansas. The Hmong were farmers, and chickens had a special place in their culture dating back through the millennia. (An ancient Hmong legend credits a rooster with having saved the world.) Moua moved his family to Magazine six years ago and set up his chicken houses. His sons enrolled in school, and they began to play football, the way other Hmong children had before them.
The Hmong wanted this country badly, and this country owed them a debt that it did not owe to many of the other immigrant populations that arrived here. Now, having partially paid that off, the United States is proposing to stiff them on the rest of what we owe, and ship them back to a country that they do not know, and in which they could be killed. We are a deadbeat country, following a deadbeat leader, who never met someone he couldn't stick with the check.