My name is Bryan Thao Worra and I am the Assistant Director for the
LaoAssistance Center of Minnesota—a member of MAG-Net. I am a Fellow inLiterature with the
National Endowment for the Arts, and I have been a resident of Minnesota
for over 12 years working on national, regional and local issues of
refugee resettlement, the arts and media access.
I am submitting this testimony in deep support of the principles of net neutralityand the development of equitable access for all members of American society.Drawing upon my experiences and observations with the 25,000 Lao refugees inMinnesota and over 400,000 Lao refugees across the United States, I can say thateffective access to the internet is a vital cornerstone for our community toovercome regional, local and national challenges of economic and socialdisparity.Many figures will point to the great disconnect between the media and refugeecommunities already, many of whom are heavily affected by the digital divide. Wewere encouraged to see this as an era of digital opportunities, but this simply hasnot happened for Lao refugees, and many other communities in similar positions,including Cambodian, Karen, Hmong, Bhutanese, Nepalese, Tai Dam, Mien,Tibetan, and Vietnamese, as well as African refugees from the Oromo, Ogaden,Somali and Liberian communities among many others.Many continue to live in linguistically isolated households, and many live wellbelow the federal poverty line that makes even basic internet access something of aluxury to obtain. At the Lao Assistance Center we established a computer lab tohelp limited-English refugees conduct job searches, ESL and find ways to remain incontact with loved ones and family still separated overseas and in distant parts of the country.