This past summer, 8 Cambodian Americans in Minnesota ("MN 8") were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for unjust deportation. Families, friends, and neighbors have banded together by launching the #ReleaseMN8 campaign. Watch their call to action video here.
What is happening is unjust because the Obama Administration pledged to deport felons, not families. Unjust deportation is an important Asian American issue and families are fighting to stay together (e.g. the Adam Crapser Korean Adoptee case). Now the next Trump Administration may escalate attacks on Asian American families, even though we understand that deporting people who contribute to society is a waste of time and money.
Why is unjust deportation of the MN 8 a moral issue?
It is morally wrong to throw away survivors of war and genocide. Southeast Asian American refugee families from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam escaped war and genocide, only to be resettled in poverty-stricken neighborhoods plagued by violence and crime. Many Southeast Asian American (SEA) children and young adults were funneled into the school-prison-deportation pipeline. Since 1998, around 16,000 SEAs have received final deportation orders -- 78% of them based on past criminal records for time served already.
It is morally wrong to deport people who are not a threat to security. In 2014, ICE updated prosecutorial use guidelines to focus on immigrants with criminal convictions as the first priority -- making people vulnerable to deportations despite an explicit guideline that states if people aren't a "national threat, public security, and border security" they should not be deemed as a priority. Cambodian American survivors are not a threat to security.
It is morally wrong to break up loving families who contribute to society. According to SEARAC's 2015 report, ICE agents can use "prosecutorial discretion" which enables ICE to use their judgement and authority to detain and deport persons based on background. This includes taking into account factors such as "circumstance of the person's arrival, ties and contributions to community, including family relationship, [and] whether the person has a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child, or parents." Cambodian American survivors contribute to society and have loving families.
Hold President Obama accountable. Tell the Department of Homeland Security to use their prosecutorial discretion to do the morally right thing before it is too late. Stop deportations now and keep families together for the holidays.
This petition is co-sponsored with the #ReleaseMN8 campaign, Southeast Asia Resource Center, National Immigration Project, and Not1More/Mijente. Photo credit: Thaiphy Media (Thaiphy Phan-Quang). Call to Action Video: ubuntu Media (Ryan Stopera).
This post was originally published at 18 Million Rising. Sign the petition here.