Have these photos been imported into LR on the desktop previously? Yes or no?
Side comment: if you're going to be doing culling and nothing more on the laptop, there's no reason to convert to DNG.
On the right-side of the import dialog try unchecking the box for "don't import suspected duplicates" and choose a new folder location by clicking the plus icon on the Desination tab.
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You probably messed up your catalog and try to import duplicates. Either they are in your database or Lightroom thinks that they are in the database.
Get one of the names and search your database before doing any duplicate import. It's always secure to first check, if you didn't make the mistake.
If you can't find the specific file in your catalog, do as 99jon suggests. If you find them, check if thy are all there (search on date / location / keyword, whatever you used to mark the files).
I think I have it. I did not quite get the hang of checking the database so I simply unchecked the "don't import suspected duplicates" box and that opened them up for me. I suspect I will have to cull out some duplicates but at least now I can bring the images up and work on them. Thanks to everyone.