St. Paul, MN – After almost a year in detention, Sameth Nhean and his family breathed a sigh of relief when an immigration judge granted him a 212(h) waiver canceling his deportation and allowing him to regain his green card. Nhean has been fighting his deportation alongside members of the #ReleaseMN8 campaign since August of last year. Originally scheduled to be deported in March, he was issued a last minute stay or removal when a judge agreed to reopen his immigration case.
Despite the judge’s finding that Sameth should reunite permanently with his family, the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to appeal the decision and refuses to release Nhean from detention.
“I don’t understand why this government wants to waste time and taxpayer dollars to deport Sameth, a loving father and husband who is clearly not a threat to anybody,” said Nhean’s wife, Sokha Kul. “It saddens me to see how cold and heartless this Administration has become.”
Since Nhean’s detention, the family lost their three-bedroom home, forcing Kul and their three children to move into to her mom’s one-bedroom apartment. Debt collectors call every day as she struggles to support herself and her children with just one paycheck.
Nhean came to the U.S. as a refugee at the age of three. He was born in a Thai refugee camp after his family fled the Cambodian Khmer Rouge, and he has been a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. for 32 years.
Like many refugees from Cambodia, he has overcome significant generational poverty and trauma. In 2002, he was charged with 2nd degree assault with a dangerous weapon after trying to prevent his then-girlfriend from driving home while intoxicated. Nhean was sentenced to 21 months in jail but only served 90 days with probation. Even so, DHS is trying to deport him to a country he has never set foot in.
Aside from supporting a wife and three children, all of whom are U.S. citizens, Nhean also supports a U.S. citizen father who suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. His father had been living with his sister for eight years, but she could no longer care for him after her own child was born with special needs. Just as Nhean’s father was getting ready to move in with Nhean’s family, Nhean was thrown into immigrant detention. If he is deported, his father would have no place to go.
“The Trump Administration does not care that its policies have real consequences for entire families, including devastating impacts on children and elders,” said Quyen Dinh, executive director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). “The Administration has attacked the very foundation of our immigration and humanitarian systems, from the Muslim and refugee ban, to the indiscriminate dragnets of immigrant families for deportation, to supporting this week’s nativist RAISE Act
, which would eviscerate family-based immigration programs and drastically slash refugee admissions. We condemn this Administration’s ongoing attack on immigrant families and demand justice for Sameth and others facing unjust deportation.”