Press Release: Groups Demand ICE Records of Aggressive Enforcement Targeting SEAAs

April 5, 2018


Mary Tablante, 202-296-2300, ext. 0114,
Katrina Dizon Mariategue, (202) 601-2968,
Nancy Nguyen, (856) 320-6668,

Washington, DC – Today, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), VietLead, and more than 60 other organizations submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to demand transparency and accountability for the Trump administration’s increased immigration enforcement activities, specifically targeting Southeast Asian Americans for detention and deportation. This move follows the deportation of 43 Cambodians that happened just yesterday–the biggest group to be removed in just one day since the repatriation of Cambodian nationals began over a decade ago.
The FOIA request demands ICE release all records related to the arrests, detention, and deportation of Southeast Asian Americans in the past 20 years. Advocates will use this information to assist affected communities and target their access to legal services.
John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, said, “What has often gone unseen is that Southeast Asian American refugees are one of the most likely groups to be deported for old criminal convictions. Many who are threatened with deportation are providers for their families here in the U.S. It is vital that we receive these records from ICE to allow us to help affected communities and advocate for real policy change.”
Hundreds of Southeast Asian American refugees are in danger of being deported this year, and more than 16,000 community members have received final orders of deportation despite most refugees being lawful permanent residents.

Quyen Dinh, Executive Director of SEARAC, said, “The mass detention of Southeast Asian community members this year has had a devastating impact on so many families. The trauma of deportation in the Southeast Asian refugee community is compounded by historical trauma of war, genocide, and mass displacement. For years we have been trying to advocate for our community without adequate data on detention and arrest statistics specific to the Lao, Hmong, Cambodian, and Vietnamese community. We hope that this FOIA request will release the information we need to shed light on the disproportionate impact of mandatory detention and deportation on our families.”

Nancy Nguyen, Executive Director of VietLead, said, “This is an important step in our community holding ICE accountable. We have to remove the smoke and mirrors from their operation.”

Together, we are committed to holding ICE accountable and ensuring affected communities receive the services they need to prevent more families from being torn apart.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC has a mission to advance the civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all.
SEARAC is a national civil rights organization that empowers Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese American communities to create a socially just and equitable society. As representatives of the largest refugee community ever resettled in the United States, SEARAC stands together with other refugee communities, communities of color, and social justice movements in pursuit of social equity. 
VietLEAD is a new Vietnamese community-based organization that focuses on intergenerational building through leadership development, community engagement, culture & arts, and health promotion work.