SEARAC Denounces Scheduled Deportation of over 50 Cambodian Americans

Washington, DC – SEARAC strongly denounces today’s scheduled deportation of more than 50 Cambodian Americans. The flight includes a number of individuals with whom SEARAC community partners have worked to terminate their removal orders. One of these individuals is Somal Sao of Minnesota. ReleaseMN8 has been advocating for the termination of his removal order over the past several months.
Samol Sao was born in Battambang, Cambodia, in 1977. During the Khmer Rouge Genocide, his family escaped the country, and eventually resettled in the United States as refugees. Samol has never returned to Cambodia and has no recollection of the country. Despite this, he was detained in a Dallas, TX, detention facility and will be deported for a crime committed 17 years ago if his appeal to the Bureau of Immigration Appeals is not decided in the affirmative and before the flight departs on Monday. Samol has served his time. The victim of his incident has written a letter of support for him, and the Rice County Attorney had also agreed to modify his original sentence due to the severe consequences of that conviction. If deported, Samol would leave behind ailing parents, a wife, and three children.
Since 2017, there has been an over 200% increase in deportations of Cambodian Americans, and deportations of Cambodian and Vietnamese Americans are the highest they have ever been in over a decade. Since 1998, over 17,000 Southeast Asian Americans have been ordered removed, and over 1,900 have been deported. SEARAC and over 240 immigrant, refugee, criminal justice, and civil rights organizations recently sent a letter to Congress urging them to repeal the ’96 immigration laws responsible to expanding the deportation laws in the United States.
“Our families and communities escaped to the United States because of political and ethnic persecution after the fallout of the Vietnam War and conflict in the surrounding region. It is unconscionable for our country to deport Southeast Asian Americans to countries their family fled and that many cannot even remember,” said Quyen Dinh, executive director of SEARAC. “We cannot continue to give second chances to only U.S. citizens and must apply that same standard to all residents in this country. Congress must urgently move to repeal the provisions of the ’96 immigration laws that continue to tear our communities apart and restore due process protections for immigrants and refugees.”
Yesterday, Sunday, June 30, Samol Sao’s family, along with more than a thousand Minnesotans, marched in south Minneapolis to stand with immigrant and refugee community members and activists to speak out against inhumane and unjust detention and deportation policies that further punish immigrant and refugee communities and deny them basic due process rights. They spoke about the injustice and pain that the Trump Administration has inflicted on their family.