Over 100 Cambodian Americans Rounded Up for Deportation

October 17, 2017

Katrina Dizon Mariategue, Immigration Policy Manager
katrina@searac.org, 202-601-2968

U.S. Visa Sanctions Force Cambodia to Resume Repatriations

Washington, DC – Over 100 Cambodian Americans throughout the country have been rounded up and detained following the Cambodian government’s announcement that it plans to issue travel documents for 26 individuals whom the U.S. wants to deport. The round-ups come less than a month after the U.S. issued visa sanctions on Cambodia for refusing to comply with the repatriation of deportees. The Cambodian government cited humanitarian concerns about deporting refugees and breaking up American families as the reason for non-compliance. Community activists had also put pressure on Cambodian government to stop accepting the deportation of refugees, which temporarily halted removals during the summer.

Mavis Polyngam and her husband Narun, who faces deportation to Cambodia.

Most of the Cambodian Americans rounded up and detained are currently being held at the Adelanto Detention Facility near Los Angeles, CA. Others are now in the process of being transported from their home states to Adelanto, including from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, Florida, Washington, and Minnesota. Interviews by the Cambodian consulate are expected to begin on October 23. It is unclear how many of these individuals will be deported to Cambodia, and whether the number will exceed the 26 announced by the Cambodian government.

The majority of the individuals facing deportation to Cambodia are people who came to the U.S. as refugee children, and who came into contact with the criminal justice system before their families were able to naturalize. All of them finished serving their sentences, and some had returned to their families and communities years ago, living transformed lives and supporting their loved ones.
Mavis Polyngam’s husband Narun was detained by ICE only four months after they buried their 15-year-old son, who had been shot 27 times in the street, a bystander to gang violence in their hometown of Stockton, CA. Polyngam, who battles depression, stated, “I don’t know how I can go on living after losing both my son and my husband, my rock.”
“This is one of the largest round-ups the Southeast Asian American community has seen,” said Quyen Dinh, executive director of SEARAC. “We call on both the U.S. and Cambodian governments to do the right thing by stopping the deportation of refugees. Our families have suffered enough for one lifetime. Enough is enough.”
Take Action:
  1. If you or someone you know is impacted by the recent rounds-ups, please consider filling out SEARAC’s advocacy intake form so we can help direct you to appropriate resources. Please consider sharing your story to shine a light on the devastating impact of deportation on families.
  2. Add your name to this sign on form to voice your support for the individuals and families who are currently facing deportation.