Children of Hmong refugees elected in record numbers to Minnesota Legislature

November 25, 2018 10:32 PM

There were five Hmong candidates elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives a few weeks ago which is the highest number since Hmong refugees and immigrants started arriving here in 1975.

There were also two Hmong candidates elected to Ramsey County's Second Judicial District as judges.


From 1961 to 1975, Hmong soldiers were hired by the CIA and thousands fought and died alongside U.S. troops in Laos in what is now known as the "Secret War" to help stem the tide of communism in Southeast Asia.

There were thousands more left without a country when the Vietnam War ended and the first Hmong refugees arrived here in November 1975 and there are now an estimated 70,000 Hmong people living in Minnesota.

Forty-three years after the first arrival of Hmong immigrants, Minnesota voters have now placed the highest number of state representatives at the State Capitol.

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Samantha Vang, DFL-Brooklyn Center, is one of those people who will take the oath of office in January. Vang's parents immigrated to the U.S. in 1993 and were still considered political refugees.

"My mother and father came here with nothing and they never expected to see this," Vang said. "I guess you could say this is achieving the American dream on steroids."

Tou Xiong, DFL-Maplewood, also won a seat in the Minnesota House and said his parents also immigrated to the U.S. with hopes and dreams for a better life.

"I think, in my opinion, this speaks to what America is all about rather than just the individual," Xiong said. "What other country allows a group of immigrants to show up, get an education and then put their name in to run for public office?"

With the elections of attorneys P. Paul Yang and Adam Yang, there will also be three Hmong judges in Ramsey County as well when they are sworn in during January.

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Jay Kolls

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