In Defense of My Citizenship

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I was born on August 26, 1973 and I grew up in Bhalche, Nepal, a very remote area—it takes two hours to walk to the closest town. In Bhalche, 98% of the people don’t go to school.
At 15 I moved to Kathmandu so I could learn about the societies of other countries. One of my friends there was a trekking guide, and I became a porter carrying 100 lbs a day. We worked early in the morning at 5 a.m. to climb mountains that were 16 thousand feet tall. It was so cold that spit turned into ice.
I did that for 3 years, and made friends with people who spoke English. I talked with tourists every night for two years. After this, I was able to communicate in English and was promoted to trekking guide. At the same time, I would go to Bhalche and help my community through the Nepali Congress Party, teaching youths about democracy.

I went back and forth to Bhalche but unfortunately, since 1996 the Communists took over Nepal in 2000, and I couldn’t go back anymore. Young people were kidnapped and recruited as Communists. Maoists spread all over Nepal because of the lack of education. I couldn’t go back home for security reasons. It was very dangerous. One time I was stopped by a Maoist, who tried to take money from me. I was almost killed in the trekking area because I refused. My friends gave him money, and I was let go.

I applied for a tourist visa to come to America, and in 2004 I filed for political asylum. I got recommended approval asylum and waited eight months. I came here by myself, leaving my wife and two kids in Kathmandu. I was scared of being denied. After a year, I finally received asylum. After that, I filed for my wife and kids and called the Nepali embassy every day, but there were huge protests in Nepal and they directed me to India, who said my family was still pending for their visas. I didn’t see my family for 18 months. I went to Thailand to visit them and my son didn’t even recognize me. He kept asking my wife, “Is he my father?” Several months later, my family was approved and we settled down in America.
Then I applied for a green card. Some people got one in six months. Mine wasn’t approved after a year. Agents couldn’t do anything, so I contacted Congresspersons in Los Angeles, who told me my status was pending in the Texas Service Center because of background checks. Six months later a government agent told me it was because I was allegedly helping Communists. The Texas Service Center thought that the Nepali Congress party was a terrorist organization when it’s really a democratic party! I don’t understand why they thought that. Maybe because they never went to Nepal.

It seemed that I went everywhere to get help and I couldn’t get any. I contacted Canal Alliance, a nonprofit in San Rafael, for help. They said I could meet with a lawyer and then Ted from the Asian Law Caucus emailed me.

When I met Ted I could tell he was very intelligent and smart. I told my wife that Ted was young and aggressive—the kind of attorney who gets things done. He asked me to send another letter to the government, and they replied that my application was still pending because of national security background checks. Ted said they didn’t know what they’re doing. We filed mandamus action for a federal judge to order the immigration agency to make a decision within 30 days. I was really nervous asking the government to decide—it depends on their mood.

On July 17, 2009, I checked on the website and I saw that I was approved. I couldn’t even think; I couldn’t say anything for awhile. Then I screamed my wife’s name—I was so happy. My wife and kids ran into the room and I told them. They were so happy. I called all my friends, and in a couple of days I got my actual green card in the mail. Ted called the DOJ attorney, and in a few days my family’s green cards were approved too.

I am really appreciative of the Asian Law Caucus and Ted. Without them, my green card may have taken 10 years, 20 years or maybe never. When I didn’t have a green card I worried every single day about being deported. It changed my life—I’m so happy now. I still help Bhalche—two months ago I built two schools there. Right now in Nepal I have a nonprofit organization called Nepal FREED (Nepal Foundation for Rural Economic and Educational Development) to help build schools in rural Nepal. So many people helped me here in America. I never thought someone would do that for me, and it was really unbelievable. I really encourage other people with pending applications to contact the Asian Law Caucus for help. You should not be afraid to file mandamus action. Don’t be afraid to fight for justice—believe that you’ll get it when you fight for the right things.

Learn more about the Immigration program.

ALERT: ICE is planning raids on the Cambodian community in the next few weeks. If you are Cambodian, have a deportation order, and were asked to check-in with ICE soon, contact 415-952-0413 to speak to a lawyer.

For resources and information regarding legal services, visit SEAraids.org
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ALERT: ICE is planning raids on the Cambodian community in the next few weeks. If you are Cambodian, have a deportation order, and were asked to check-in with ICE soon, contact 415-952-0413 to speak to a lawyer.

For resources and information regarding legal services, visit SEAraids.org

View previous comments

My understanding is the US plans to deport 200 cambodians per year until everybody with an order of removal is deported. I don't mean to cause fear but I strongly encourage anybody with a removal order to fight their cases now because once you are detained it becomes much more difficult to have access to attorneys and other resources. I fear this cycle will continue over the next few years.

8 hours ago   ·  10

5 Replies

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None of us are free unless all of us are free from fear! This is unacceptable!

8 hours ago   ·  8
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I love you all, my Southeast Asian brothers and sisters! You’re not alone in this fight!!

3 hours ago   ·  1
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Started with Mexicans, Muslims, now Cambodians... who is next?

8 hours ago   ·  3

2 Replies

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Immigration lawyer ain’t going to do anything but take your money

5 hours ago   ·  2
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Again come on! This is no way to live😠

9 hours ago   ·  1
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Thavanh Vongkeo

7 hours ago
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Lean Pil share with your philly friends

6 hours ago
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David Seng

7 hours ago
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What about Stockton???? My brother in law check in march!!!! What should he do???

6 hours ago

2 Replies

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I am an immigration attorney and I was at immigration court today. I represented four individuals, all from Vietnam, all legal permanent residents with old crimes and recent entries to the U.S. I echo the suggestions above. If you have a removal/deportation order, if you have a history of crimes, if you plan on traveling outside of the U.S., speak with an immigration attorney.

2 hours ago
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Devon Lernsdale

3 hours ago

1 Reply

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This is crazy... the group just left and they starting again already😡

8 hours ago
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Do we have information on Massachusetts?

8 hours ago

2 Replies

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Pechta Sok

6 hours ago
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Molly Mall

1 hour ago
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The Cambodian and Viet communities are again targeted by US militarism-police abuse: from being attacked and displaced in the war in Indochina to becoming refugees to living in US ghetto-conditions to jail now to deportation. This is generational torture by imperialism. Like the Central American exodus the US exports war and guns, imports labor via refugees, over polices them and deports people, and so the cycle continues. I am so sad and sick. I take actions at rallies and make donations to express my rage and solidarity but where do I put the sadness.

7 hours ago   ·  7

2 Replies

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Don’t Check it,go somewhere n live off the land, if your gon get deported anyway

4 hours ago
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