For immediate release
September 3, 2020
Elaine Sanchez Wilson
Washington, DC – On Aug. 31, it was announced that Tien Pham, a Vietnamese refugee, and Patricia Waller, a Belizean domestic violence survivor, will be transferred from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to ICE detention. Although both individuals were found suitable for parole, instead of being released to the safety of their families and communities, they were transferred to an ICE facility in Colorado during a global pandemic.
Despite growing concerns over unsanitary and overcrowded ICE facilities, as well as ICE’s persistent under-reporting of COVID-19 cases among detained populations, Gov. Newsom continues to ignore these warning signs by allowing prison transfers to ICE. Having served their time and granted parole by the governor, Tien Pham and Patricia Waller deserve to be released to their communities and reunited with their families.
“As ICE continues to detain members of our community during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is abundantly clear that the Trump Administration has a complete disregard for the humanity of immigrants and refugees,” said Katrina Dizon Mariategue, acting executive director of SEARAC. “ICE habitually punishes our community members even after they have served their time by separating them from their families, forcing them to face deportation proceedings, and putting their lives at risk amidst a global health crisis. The prison-to-deportation pipeline must be stopped. Gov. Newsom has the power to intervene but has yet to heed the advice of advocates, public health experts, local and state officials, and community leaders who call for an end to ICE transfers from prisons. State and federal governments have an obligation to exercise responsive leadership and halt transfers to protect the rights, health, and safety of our communities. SEARAC will continue to push to stop prison-to-ICE transfers nationally and in California.”
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus shared, “The families and communities of Pham and Waller are devastated and anxious because their loved ones are now in ICE custody. Pham’s family waited for him outside of San Quentin State Prison on Monday morning but could not embrace Pham on what was supposed to be his first day of freedom. Patricia Waller and Tien Pham will be transferred thousands of miles from their family and community to be detained in an ICE detention facility in Colorado.”
We encourage SEARAC’s community members to send notes of support to Patricia and Tien as they now fight their deportations using this link