Franken visits Laos to see repatriated Hmong refugeesby Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Senator Al Franken is in Southeast Asia Tuesday where he said Laotian officials prevented him from seeing first-hand how 4,500 forcibly-repatriated Hmong refugees there are living.
Minnesota has one of the largest Hmong populations in the nation. Franken traveled to Laos to check on the refugees and their living conditions.
Franken told reporters on a conference call he did meet with about 150 refugees and got a helicopter tour but said that's not enough.
"We sort of were with a general from the Lao government who basically limited our access in a way that I wasn't happy," Franken said.
Franken says he will encourage Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to push for better access to the Hmong refugees. Franken also wants a list of the names of the refugees so relatives can find them.
Franken is scheduled to return tomorrow.