I proudly cosponsored and voted for the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act because I believe discrimination in any form has no place in our democratic society - particularly when it leads to violence. As you know, the bill will help local law enforcement fight bias-motivated violent crimes by enabling the Justice Department to assist local and state law enforcement in their investigation and prosecution of hate crimes based on a victim's sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability. Bias-motivated violent crime affects an entire community and it is my hope that H.R. 1592 will help eliminate hate, fear, and violence in Minnesota and beyond.
During my time in the Minnesota State Legislature, I championed a number of anti-discrimination policy measures, and I plan to continue to take an active role in Congress to fight all forms of discrimination.
Liberians In Minnesota
I am a strong supporter of H.R. 3123, a bill that will extend temporary immigration status for Liberian refugees here in the United States. Minnesota is proud to be the home of over 1,000 Liberian refugees. These individuals came to United States after a terrible civil war in Liberia in the early 1990s. This war left over 150,000 people dead and displaced nearly a million others.
Recently, the federal government informed the Liberian refugees that they have to return to Liberia. Though the civil war is over, the Liberian government fears bringing thousands of people back to a nation with a high unemployment rate could potentially destabilize the nation. Additionally, it has been well over a decade since the Liberians sought Minnesota as refugees and they have become an important part of the fabric that makes up our communities, neighborhoods and economies. I believe forcing them to return now would be an injustice to not only the Liberians, but to everyone in Minnesota.
I signed onto the letter written by Representative Patrick Kennedy from Rhode Island requesting that President Bush defer the enforcement of the deportation order for the Liberian refugees. I am excited to report that the President has done this and the Liberians will be able to remain in the United States for an additional eighteen months.
I believe that in this time of heightened national security concerns, it is important to use all available means to bring to justice those who wish harm upon Americans. However, there are appropriate and legal ways to monitor suspected terrorists. Under existing laws, the President may surveil Americans by obtaining a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts. This Administration has rarely been denied a FISA warrant.
On August 4, 2007, The Protect America Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-55) passed the House of Representatives 227 - 183 and was signed into law on August 5, 2007. I did not vote for this bill because I believe the changes it makes to FISA will negatively impact the civil liberties of innocent Americans. The new law fundamentally evades the original purpose of FISA and raises grave constitutional questions by allowing the Administration to broadly surveil Americans with little judicial oversight. I will work hard to repeal this new law as Congress reconvenes this fall.