HomeSoutheast Asian AmericanAAPI Advocates Protest Deportation of Southeast Asians

AAPI Advocates Protest Deportation of Southeast Asians

Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Views from the Edge

A coalition of Asian American agencies and immigrant organizations in collaboration with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus denounced Donald Trump’s deportation of refugees and long-term lawful permanent residents who resettled in the U.S. after fleeing conflict in Southeast Asia.

Currently, more than 14,000 Southeast Asian Americans have been given an order of removal since 1998. The majority of these individuals resettled in the United States as refugees after the Vietnam War. 

“As this Administration continues to terrorize immigrant and refugee communities, it is crucial that our elected leaders not only speak out against the Administration’s sweeping anti-immigrant agenda but also do everything in their power to put in place real protections for our communities,” said Phi Nguyen, litigation director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Atlanta.

The organizations taking part in a press conference Tuesday (Feb. 27) in Washington D.C., included Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, Southeast Asian Freedom Network, and the Vietnamese Anti-Deportation Network representing refugees from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

Some of these refugees became involved in criminal activity after being relocated into struggling neighborhoods. After two decades, many have already served their sentences, started families, and rejoined society before Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began trying to deport these individuals. 

These immigrant and refugees are facing a large increase in ICE’s detention and deportation efforts, including the agency’s continued overspending to detain more individuals than annually appropriated.
Since the start of Trump’s Administration, deportations of Southeast Asian Americans have drastically increased. Deportations of Cambodian Americans increased by 279% between 2017 and 2018, and Vietnamese Americans saw a 68% increase in the same timeframe.

Additionally, the Administration has unilaterally reinterpreted the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and Vietnam to allow the US to deport pre-95 Vietnamese Americans, a clear deviation from previous interpretations of the MOU. The Administration has also placed visa sanctions on Laos to pressure the country to accept individuals awaiting removal.

“Southeast Asian communities have been devastated by the relentless attacks and rampant ICE arrests within our neighborhoods,” said Sina Sam, community organizer with Khmer Anti-deportation Advocacy Group and the Southeast Asian Freedom Network

“The recent death of Mr. Sophorn San after his deportation to Cambodia in December, along with ICE’s intent to deport another 200 Cambodian Americans this year, have placed our communities in an extreme state of duress.”

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