Faith Leaders, Refugees & Civil Rights Organizations Call on Gov. Brown to Pardon Southeast Asian Refugees Facing Deportation

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October 24, 2018

Faith Leaders, Refugees & Civil Rights Organizations Call on Governor Brown to Pardon Southeast Asian Refugees Facing Deportation

SACRAMENTO – A coalition of faith leaders, directly impacted Southeast Asian refugees and their families, and civil rights organizations gathered today at the California State Capitol to hold a vigil and deliver over 36,000 petition signatures to Governor Brown calling on him to pardon a group of Southeast Asian refugees who are facing imminent deportation due to recent ICE raids inflicted by the Trump administration. The action was also livestreamed here.

“The separation of families is taking place both at the border and in our communities in California,” said Reverend Deborah Lee, Executive Director of Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity. “Refugees who came to this country seeking peace are being torn from their families by an immigration system that refuses to recognize their humanity. California should take action now to stop the deportations through pardoning these refugees.”

Recent ICE raids carried out by the Trump administration have devastated Cambodian communities, resulting in the detention nationally of over 60 valued parents, siblings, friends, children, and community leaders, many of whom came to the United States as refugees fleeing deadly regimes and US-led bombing. These latest actions build upon decades of US policy targeting these communities, including punitive criminal justice measures in California that disproportionately affect Southeast Asians. The coalition today urged the Governor to pardon a group of Southeast Asian refugees from California by Thanksgiving.

Ny Nourn, Yuri Kochiyama Fellow at Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, who is a formerly incarcerated Cambodian refugee, said, “Today, in front of Governor Brown’s office, we held up paper cranes and rang a bell for each member of the Southeast Asian community who is currently detained and facing deportation. We also organized a water ceremony to remember our brothers and sisters who are in danger of deportation and to call on the Governor to exercise mercy in his remaining months in office to protect these community members.”

“We have been struggling to survive for our entire lives,” said Borey “PJ” Ai, a Southeast Asian refugee with a pending pardon application. “We thought we had escaped persecution when our families fled their homes. We have experienced so much tragedy already, both abroad and in the US, and we fear that our lives and communities will now be destroyed by ICE. We ask Governor Brown to use his pardon power to stop these deportations.”

With a few months left in office, Governor Brown can act to prevent these refugees’ immediate deportations by issuing pardons on their behalf. Doing so would allow them to reopen their cases in immigration court and to return to their families and communities as they continue to pursue justice.

Huiying B. Chan, Campaigner at Daily Kos, who organized several of the petitions that were delivered to Governor Brown today, said, “Our petitions urging Governor Brown to pardon Southeast Asian refugees, including PJ, have received an outpouring of support from the community. We urge Governor Brown to heed this call to action to protect Southeast Asian refugees and keep them with their families and communities.”

“We’re grateful to Governor Brown for his past pardons of Californians who have been cruelly targeted by federal immigration policies,” said Sarah Hoeuy, whose husband Sene Sam is currently seeking a pardon. “We hope that he will recognize the injustice afflicting our communities today and act to end the suffering that continues to tear our families apart.”

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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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