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7.31.2018

#KeepPJHome: ICE is targeting the Cambodian community for deportation... and this man might be on the top of its list.

Guest Post by Thi Bui.



Last week, I caught up with Borey Ai aka PJ, whom I wrote about in this piece for The Nib:

Refugee to Detainee: How the U.S. is Deporting Those Seeking a Safe Haven

It's been twelve weeks since PJ was released from ICE detention, two years since he was released from a life sentence in prison for a crime he committed at the age of fourteen. The #KeepPJHome campaign is going strong. Hundreds of postcards have been mailed to California Governor Jerry Brown, asking him to grant PJ a pardon in light of his rehabilitation and years of service to others as a counselor and advocate for juvenile justice reform.

We sat on a grassy knoll overlooking Oakland's Lake Merritt. PJ told me it's been a long time since he sat down in a park. We chatted about how you can rent kayaks and sailboats on the lake. He asked me if there were things I've always wanted to do since I was a kid, and I replied that I've been using my adulthood to catch up on them. I asked, "What about you?"

"So many things," he answered with a smile that looked mostly optimistic but which I couldn't help thinking was incredibly sad at the same time. I thought about a life, humans in cages, and how Americans don't feel safe even though the US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Meanwhile, PJ played with a small dog that came to lie down in his shadow and chatted with her owner, an elderly woman with a walker.

A short while later, an electronic beep told him it was time to change the battery on his ankle monitor. He put a fresh battery into the bulky plastic contraption under his sock as we discussed the process of getting a 47-hour pass from his parole officer to go to Stockton to visit his mother and see his childhood haunts.

All of these lingering effects of imprisonment go away if PJ receives a pardon.



Meanwhile, ICE continues an aggressive deportation agenda under the Trump administration. Right after I said goodbye to PJ, I received an update from the #KeepPJHome campaign relaying that they'd heard that the next round of ICE raids on the Cambodian community could happen as soon as this August... and PJ might be on the top of their list.

This is wrong. Please help.

Here are a few actions you can take to help #KeepPJHome:

1) Ask 10 friends to sign PJ's support letter for pardon.

2) For in-person events/activities: Print the postcard, collect signatures, and mail to the address listed.

3) Donate: You can make a tax-deductible donation to the #KeepPJHome campaign, and Asian Prisoner Support Committee anti-deportation efforts.

4) Organize a #KeepPJHome and anti-deportation event on your campus or in your community. Depending on where you are located, APSC and PJ might be able to participate in person or via Skype.

5) Elected Officials: If you have connections to elected officials, please email info@asianprisonersupport.org to coordinate a strategy to push for a pardon (some targets: Gov. Brown, Stockton Mayor Tubbs, San Joaquin County DA, Santa Clara County DA, Senator Portantino).

6) Share on Social Media! Asian Prisoner Support Committee will soon be posting a short video about PJ on Facebook and Twitter along with more news articles, so please help us amplify those when they are posted!


This post was originally published on Facebook.