'I can't find any peace here': Raised in the U.S. and deported to Cambodia

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'I can't find any peace here': Raised in the U.S. and deported to Cambodia

Post by Anthony's Weiner » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:20 pm

A record 126 Cambodian refugees were deported from the U.S. in 2018. Now they must adjust to living in a country many of them hadn't seen in decades.

Every day, Sothy Kum wakes up at 6:30 a.m. to talk to his wife and their 2-year-old daughter in Wisconsin, more than 8,000 miles away from his condo in Cambodia, where he's lived for the past nine months.

It's 5:30 p.m. then in the Midwest, and Kum's wife is typically just leaving work. They stay on the line for three to five hours until their daughter's bedtime.

Those conversations have become a lifeline for Kum, 44, since he was deported to Cambodia last April. Hearing the voices of his wife and daughter helps him cope with depression as he adjusts to life in a country he left when he was 2.
“I'm still not used to it,” he said. “I'm still scared of the traffic. I can't find any peace here.”

Kum is one of 126 people who were deported from the U.S. to Cambodia in 2018. According to Bill Herod, spokesman for the Khmer Vulnerability Aid Organization, it's a record for any single year since deportations to Cambodia began in 2002, when the two countries signed a repatriation agreement that opened the pathway for refugees to be sent back to Cambodia.

There are several possible reasons for the rise in deportations. One is that the U.S. has pressured Cambodia to take in the refugees who are being deported. In 2017, Cambodia had halted the deportations by refusing to receive the refugees, with the goal of negotiating a new agreement that would give deportees more freedoms, including allowing them to return to the U.S. to visit relatives. In retaliation, the Trump administration imposed limits on visas from Cambodia, among other countries that refuse to take deportees. Cambodia responded by allowing the deportations to resume last year, and a surge followed.

The number of deportees has also been driven by the Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigration generally. In fiscal year 2018, tens of thousands more immigrants were arrested and deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Enforcement and Removal Operations, which focuses on immigrants who have been living in the country, compared to fiscal year 2016, according to an ICE report.

Advocates expect the number of deportees returned to Cambodia to continue to rise.

Many of the recently deported Cambodian refugees had been in America for decades and were booted for committing minor crimes — in Kum's case, marijuana possession with intent to distribute, for which he served one-year sentence. Kum had arrived in the U.S. when he was about 5, after fleeing the Khmer Rouge with his family and spending time in Thailand and the Philippines.

“Culturally and socially, they are Americans," Herod said of the deportees. "Taking them away from their spouses, children and aging parents in the U.S. is harmful to American communities.”

“It was hard the first few years because I was away from family,” she told NBC News in April. “I was stressed out, trying to find myself and what I can do in Cambodia to live comfortably and integrate comfortably because the jobs here, the salary is very low. I drank a lot of alcohol just to cope with all the emotions, so I kind of just numbed myself by that.”

After Phea connected with others in her situation, they founded 1Love Cambodia, a branch of the 1Love Movement group that is advocating for an end to the deportations. As of last year, she also worked as a teacher in Phnom Penh.

Kum said he has been laughed at by locals for his basic proficiency in Khmer, was once almost extorted by police who could tell he came from the U.S. and is still afraid to walk around the city, where traffic is erratic and there aren't any sidewalks.

But the heaviest struggle, returnees agree, is being thousands of miles away from their families in the U.S.

“It’s depressing and it’s just killing me, why I’m here being useless while I could be helping my family so they don’t have to struggle,” Kum said.

As of last October, there were 1,856 Cambodian nationals in the U.S. with final orders of removal, which means they're slated for deportation. About 1,300 of them had criminal convictions, according to ICE spokesman Brendan Raedy.

Herod said the Khmer Vulnerability Aid Organization is expecting to welcome 200 new returnees this year, based on guidance from U.S. officials. To prepare for the surge, the organization has rented a new transitional housing facility that can accommodate 50 people. In the past, the group has typically welcomed fewer than 10 people at a time. Last year, it received its largest group of 43 returnees in April.

As of last October, there were 1,856 Cambodian nationals in the U.S. with final orders of removal, which means they're slated for deportation. About 1,300 of them had criminal convictions, according to ICE spokesman Brendan Raedy.

Herod said the Khmer Vulnerability Aid Organization is expecting to welcome 200 new returnees this year, based on guidance from U.S. officials. To prepare for the surge, the organization has rented a new transitional housing facility that can accommodate 50 people. In the past, the group has typically welcomed fewer than 10 people at a time. Last year, it received its largest group of 43 returnees in April.

In the U.S., advocacy groups are continuing to protest the deportation of Cambodian nationals, many of whom arrived after fleeing war in Southeast Asia in the 1970s. Last month, dozens of organizations participated in events held across 15 cities to raise awareness about how mass incarceration in the U.S. has led to the deportation of Southeast Asian Americans.

“For me, this whole thing is very inhumane,” Borey “PJ” Ai, 37, a Cambodian national at risk of deportation, said.

When Ai was 14, he shot and killed a convenience store worker during a robbery — the shooting was an accident, according to his lawyers. He was prosecuted as an adult, convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. While behind bars, he began organizing counseling programs and got a college degree. After his release, he became a state-certified drug and alcohol counselor.

If he were sent to Cambodia, Ai worries he wouldn't be able to blend in because he doesn't speak, read or write Khmer. He also wouldn't have family to turn to.

Ai applied for a pardon that was blocked last year by the California Supreme Court.

www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/i-ca ... -s-n964341
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Re: 'I can't find any peace here': Raised in the U.S. and deported to Cambodia

Post by DrRawBlueGreen » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:27 pm

I bet if they were multimillionaires they wouldn’t be deported.
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Re: 'I can't find any peace here': Raised in the U.S. and deported to Cambodia

Post by pczz » Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:44 pm

Thing is we done the same in the UK with the Windrush generation and about to do it again with brexit. I Know they should have done the paperwork properly and they have all been convicted of things but ffs there has to be some consideration given to the families and the children. Its all just pr.. Like America is going to really notice 126 less immigrants. Maybe its time cambodia andthe rest of the world started deporting americans fpr crimes. Caught smoking pot deported back to usa. An eye ofr an eye
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Re: 'I can't find any peace here': Raised in the U.S. and deported to Cambodia

Post by RickyBobby » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:37 am

I find the whole thing very unfortunate given the history. First of all, Cambodians suffered collateral damage from the USA intervention, something of which they have never properly taken responsibility for. The refugees should be grandfathered in or naturalized citizens. They didn't know what to do, and just trusted their caregivers and the system. They should have received guidance and support and these technicalities of citizenship should have been done for them. A criminal is a criminal and I do not sympathize with them per-se, however it (criminality/gangs etc) is rife inside low income communities and families of single parents and those that have suffered trauma like PTSD and subsequent depression.

I also believe in rehabilitation, not punitive criminal justice. But that is neither here nor there. The USA has blood on their hands, and to tear families apart and send them to a place like Cambodia with no support or social safety net is not only cruel, it is unjust and serves absolutely no purpose.

I do not understand how this is even happening and why, at the very least, the UN does not step in and not only advocate but also create some programs for these victims of bureaucracy.
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Re: 'I can't find any peace here': Raised in the U.S. and deported to Cambodia

Post by Anthony's Weiner » Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:13 am

DrRawBlueGreen wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:27 pm
I bet if they were multimillionaires they wouldn’t be deported.
According to a 2014 survey of the New American Economy, around 9.5% of undocumented immigrants were entrepreneurs in 2014. This accounted for 912,472 people who were not only often hiring Americans but also generating $17.2 billion in business income each year. Even so, These entrepreneurs defy the stereotypes used by anti-immigrant politicians who state immigrants are replacing Americans in the workforce. The fact is, many of them are creating jobs.

www.forbes.com/sites/fernandafabian/201 ... -s-economy

I bet if you read a little you could learn something
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Re: 'I can't find any peace here': Raised in the U.S. and deported to Cambodia

Post by Captain » Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:08 am

"When Ai was 14, he shot and killed a convenience store worker during a robbery — the shooting was an accident, according to his lawyers."

Oh OK, I get it he accidentally brought a loaded firearm to an accidental robbery, and accidentally discharged said firearm into a convenience store worker, who just accidentally happened to be in the way of fast-moving bullets. Yeah right, those are certainly good lawyers!

Yeah right.
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Re: 'I can't find any peace here': Raised in the U.S. and deported to Cambodia

Post by Felgerkarb » Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:55 am

Anthony's Weiner wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 5:13 am
DrRawBlueGreen wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:27 pm
I bet if they were multimillionaires they wouldn’t be deported.
According to a 2014 survey of the New American Economy, around 9.5% of undocumented immigrants were entrepreneurs in 2014. This accounted for 912,472 people who were not only often hiring Americans but also generating $17.2 billion in business income each year. Even so, These entrepreneurs defy the stereotypes used by anti-immigrant politicians who state immigrants are replacing Americans in the workforce. The fact is, many of them are creating jobs.

www.forbes.com/sites/fernandafabian/201 ... -s-economy

I bet if you read a little you could learn something
18, 900ish USD per head. The other 90.5% don't, based on that article. How much do those cost the economy? I am not against reform, but please Forbes, report all the numbers. It isn't racist or anti-immigrant to want all the facts. Is there a human cost? There always is.
EDIT: Also, based on Forbes' numbers, there are only 9.6 million undocumented aliens...that number seems a bit low, even for 2014.
Last edited by Felgerkarb on Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:05 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 'I can't find any peace here': Raised in the U.S. and deported to Cambodia

Post by Felgerkarb » Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:56 am

pczz wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:44 pm
Thing is we done the same in the UK with the Windrush generation and about to do it again with brexit. I Know they should have done the paperwork properly and they have all been convicted of things but ffs there has to be some consideration given to the families and the children. Its all just pr.. Like America is going to really notice 126 less immigrants. Maybe its time cambodia andthe rest of the world started deporting americans fpr crimes. Caught smoking pot deported back to usa. An eye ofr an eye
I see a handful of expats deported all the time for being undocumented or breaking the law in Cambodia.
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Re: 'I can't find any peace here': Raised in the U.S. and deported to Cambodia

Post by fax » Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:17 am

19000 ish per head. What was the cost each of Nixon's bombs? If it was about money wouldn't we be out of war in the first place?
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Re: 'I can't find any peace here': Raised in the U.S. and deported to Cambodia

Post by Felgerkarb » Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:36 am

fax wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:17 am
19000 ish per head. What was the cost each of Nixon's bombs? If it was about money wouldn't we be out of war in the first place?
Whatever. I'm not talking about that, I am talking about the Forbes numbers.
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