Vietnamese refugee and formerly incarcerated firefighter Phi Pham was welcomed home by his family at the Oakland airport on Monday, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. Pham had been detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement for five months in Colorado.
Pham made national news over the summer when he was immediately transferred to an ICE facility after serving nine years in Folsom State prison in Folsom, California.
Pham was born in a refugee camp in the Phillippines. He came to America when he was four months old. He experienced abuse at school and at home.
In October 2011, Pham shot a 30-year-old man in the chest. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 14 years in state prison.
While in prison, Pham took anger management classes. He trained and served as a volunteer firefighter, according to a press release from Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
Pham’s good behavior made him eligible for parole after serving nine years of his sentence. But when he was released from prison, he was immediately transferred to an ICE facility in Colorado.
Many California state prisoners have been turned over to ICE from state prison. Immigration advocates say that the state is not legally required to transfer the prisoners to ICE.
Although Pham has now been released, he is still waiting to be pardoned by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“This summer, I walked out of Folsom State Prison after serving my time and protecting the local community from fires. I should have walked into the arms of my family, but ICE was there waiting. Agents sent me to a Colorado detention facility notorious for inhumane conditions. Today, I can finally hug my family and friends. We kept fighting for my freedom and future because we want this country to live up to its ideals – as a place that keeps families together and treats us the same, no matter where we were born,” Phi Pham said, according to a press release.
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