Lundy’s Story: Fighting Deportation to a Country She’s Never Known

Lundy Khoy was born in a Thai refugee camp to Cambodian parents fleeing the war that tore their country apart. When Lundy was a year old, she and her family were resettled as refugees in the U.S.

In 2000 when she was 19, a police officer asked her if she had any drugs. She truthfully told him she had several tabs of ecstasy, which resulted in her arrest for possession with intent to distribute. Under the advice of her lawyer, Lundy pled guilty and was given a 5-year sentence.

Due to good behavior, she was released after 3 months and placed on supervised probation. Lundy went back to school, and began to work to get her life back on track.

Towards the end of her probation period in 2004, Lundy was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, and informed that she would be deported to Cambodia.

Lundy was incarcerated for almost 9 months during her deportation hearings with no prior warning.

Since Cambodia did not issue the travel documents necessary for deportation, Lundy was finally released. She returned home, finished school, went back to work, actively volunteered in multiple charities in her community, and eventually got married and had a son with her U.S. citizen husband.

After working with a filmmaker to document her story in the short film, “Save Lundy,” she began to advocate in Congress for fair and humane deportation laws. In 2016, she was granted a Governor’s pardon.

In December 2021, Circuit Court Judge William T. Newman Jr. declared Khoy’s plea vacated, lifting the threat of deportation that had hung over her head for more than 20 years. In the months since that ruling, Lundy says that she has felt gratitude and relief, but she has also found herself thinking about all the families that did not have the same resources, whose loved ones were deported before they got a chance to fight.

Learn more

  • Watch Save Lundy, a short film about Lundy from 2012 (see below).
  • Watch Lundy tell her story on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (see below).
  • Read Lundy’s op-ed in the New York Times, I am an Immigrant with a Criminal Record.”
  • Learn more about Southeast Asian Americans and immigration policy on our website, and learn more about how you can get involved.
  • See the infographic below by the Immigrant Defense Project, Drug Policy Alliance, and Black Alliance for Just Immigration comparing Lundy’s circumstances with her sister Linda’s, who was born in the United States.