Chea Bou, a Cambodian refugee and East Oakland resident, faces deportation and separation from his family due to nonviolent criminal charges, reports the East Bay Express.
Bou, who immigrated with his family in the 1980s, was arrested for his actions as part of a drug ring. As an immigrant and non-US citizen, he faces deportation.
While Bou is a legal permanent resident, he did not get his citizenship because he thought he would never travel internationally.
Nearly 15,000 Laotian, Cambodian, and Vietnamese people have also received deportation orders since 1998. Many of these legal immigrants are deported for nonviolent offenses like Bou.
While Southeast Asians are five times more likely to be deported than other immigrant groups, Bou is still hopeful with support from his friends, family, community members and advocate groups like Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC).
A US Department of Homeland memo from last year says immigration officials can call off the deportation when “extenuating circumstances” are involved. Bou’s has lived in the United States for 35 years, his wife is a US citizen and he has children, including one entering the second grade.
The most convincing reason is his family, who Bou has not seen in a year since being locked up in a detention facility in Texas.
With shifting political climates regarding immigration policy, it is unclear whether Bou and his family will reunite again.
You can read about Bou’s life since he came to the U.S. and the support he’s received from several community groups in the East Bay Express.