Civil Rights Organizations and Refugee Community Members Applaud Gov. Newsom for Pardoning Two Cambodian Refugees Facing Deportation


May 13, 2019

Civil Rights Organizations and Refugee Community Members Applaud Gov. Newsom for Pardoning Two Cambodian Refugees Facing Deportation

San Francisco, CA – Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus applauds Governor Newsom for granting pardons to two Cambodian refugees facing deportation: Kang Hen and Hay Hov. Kang and Hay came to the United States as refugees with their families when they were children fleeing genocide under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Growing up in impoverished and hyper-criminalized neighborhoods, they made mistakes as youth and were swept into the criminal system during California’s prison boom. Under the Trump Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested them to deport them for decades-old crimes. Thousands of other Southeast Asian refugees who came to the United States as children also face deportation like Hay and Kang.

“We are deeply grateful to Governor Newsom for recognizing the plight of refugees who are being targeted by the Trump administration and for acting with compassion and leadership to stop their deportations,” said Aarti Kohli, Executive Director of Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus. The grant of a pardon eliminates their criminal convictions and allows them to remain in the United States with their families and communities.

“California recognizes that it has made mistakes in the past leading to mass incarceration. For many immigrant youth, a criminal conviction carries consequences for the rest of their lives including deportation. We encourage Governor Newsom’s continued leadership in granting clemency to address mass incarceration and show that California will not be bullied by the Trump administration. We hope to continue working with Governor Newsom on setting an example for the rest of the country. ” said Anoop Prasad, Senior Staff Attorney with Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus.

The campaign to #PardonRefugees was co-led by civil rights and community-based organizations, including Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Asian Prisoners Support Committee, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, Empowering Marginalized Asian Communities, Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants, and Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity.


Kang Hen fled genocide in Cambodia as a small child. Kang’s family was resettled as refugees in a violent neighborhood in San Jose. As a 12-year-old, Kang was pressured into joining a gang. In 1994, shortly after his 18th birthday, Kang agreed to drive two friends who took part in a robbery away from the scene. He pled guilty to robbery and served time in prison. Since then, Kang has lived a law abiding life in San Francisco working at a seafood business for the past 13 years. Kang and his partner of 17 years, Ruth, have a three-year-old child together. Recently, Ruth learned that she suffered from heart and kidney failure and may not survive. On April 1stt, ICE arrested Kang and planned to deport him next month.

Hay Hov also fled genocide in Cambodia as a small child and was resettled as a refugee in a violent neighborhood in East Oakland. As a child, Hay was beaten up, stabbed, and hit with a stray bullet. At the age of 19, Hay got into a verbal argument with an older man in his neighborhood. The feud between the two escalated as they exchanged verbal threats. The older man was shot in an unrelated argument and recovered. Hay was accused of escalating the feud and convicted of solicitation of murder. In the two decades since, Hay has stayed out of trouble and focused on caring for his family and working. On March 13, ICE agents arrested Hay and sought his deportation due to the conviction.

Anoop Prasad
Work: (415) 848-7722 | Cell: (504) 460-5395

Angela Chan
Cell: (503) 358-2795


Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus was founded in 1972 as the nation’s first legal and civil rights Asian American organization. Recognizing that social, economic, political and racial inequalities continue to exist in the United States, Advancing Justice – ALC is committed to the pursuit of equality and justice for all sectors of our society, with a specific focus directed toward addressing the needs of low-income, immigrant and underserved Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
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