Man Deported Despite Judge’s Stay Decision

At least one among 30 Cambodian Americans recently deported had been issued an emergency stay a few days later by a judge to prevent the action.

As a result, he was forced to leave Sunday even though he, at least temporarily, could remain, and he traveled to a country foreign to him, only with the clothes he was wearing, according to his attorney. The man came to the U.S. legally as a refugee and lived in California.

The man had received an emergency stay of removal Jan. 14, court records from the Board of Immigration Appeals show. But that was two days after he was sent out of the country, according to Kevin Lo, an attorney at legal and civil rights organization Asian American Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus. Lo said he confirmed with Immigration and Customs Enforcement about the man’s departure.

Lo said he does not have his client’s permission to share details about his case. He estimated that at least a few deportees in each of the past five deportation flights to Cambodia since early 2018 have experienced similar situations……….

The latest batch of deportees have landed Cambodia in shock on Jan. 15, said Bill Herod, spokesman for the Khmer Vulnerability Aid Organization, which has provided support and resources to deportees since 2002.

Many are not fluent in Khmer, the language spoken in the country. Some have “severe mental health or physical conditions before deportation”, according to a Washington Monthly article. A majority of deportees have entered the United States as refugees to flee the Khmer Rouge, a brutal regime that ruled Cambodia under dictator Pol Pot from 1975 to 1979.

Since 2002, 41 of 768 deportees who arrived Cambodia died, six by suicide, Herod said. Six have died in the last two months.

Only two were able to return to the U.S. since 2002. They are both Sacramento residents. Phorn Tem, who returned home in 2018, had been deported one day before a superior court judge would reverse his criminal conviction over a prejudicial error. Veasna Meth returned to Sacramento last year after the California conviction of residential burglary is no longer a removable offense.

KVAO staffers will pick up the deportees at the airport, and offer them a temporary place to stay, as well as basic toiletries and food at no cost, according to Herod. It provides documentation and employment assistance, as well as basic medical support for those with physical and mental health disability and chronic conditions.

The non-governmental organization is supported by grants from the United States Agency for International Development, the Mennonite Central Committee and private donations.


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