The National Week of Action to End Southeast Asian Deportations began on Saturday, Jan. 19. Thirteen organizations across the country are uniting in 15 cities to uplift Southeast Asian-American communities as they continue to be terrorized by mass deportations and incarceration. These grassroots groups are calling on local leaders and Congress to champion policies to protect immigrants and refugees and end the criminalization and demonization of community members. At the very core, these actions highlight the voices and needs of a community often overlooked in mainstream conversations about immigration and deportations.
Southeast Asians, especially Cambodian refugees, are facing rampant deportations under the Trump regime. In 2017, the largest raid ever carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement happened in the Cambodian community; over 100 refugees were detained. In 2018, right before Christmas, 36 Cambodians were deported, finding themselves on a flight back to a country that many had never stepped foot in.
Although these numbers may not seem high, any deportation is one too many, and these numbers are significant for this group, at nearly triple what they were the previous year. Now, in 2019, community members continue to fear for their lives.
Around 16,000 Southeast Asians with permanent U.S. residence have received final deportation orders, according to the Southeast Asian Resource Action Center. The majority of them live in a state of limbo, susceptible to ICE detention and deportation at any moment. Just two weeks ago, on Jan. 4, after months of community advocacy, a judge ordered that ICE must now give 14 days’ notice before carrying out deportation orders against Cambodian refugees. This was a significant temporary win for Cambodian refugees, who now do not have to worry and fear that they will be separated from their families at any moment. However, it still leaves 14,000 Southeast Asians in flux.