On Monday evening, a flight chartered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement is scheduled to take off from Texas, carrying dozens of Cambodians whom ice has ordered deported. Many of them came to the United States as refugees from the Khmer Rouge—the brutal regime that took control of Cambodia in the seventies, after the U.S. secretly bombed the country during the Vietnam War—and lived here legally for decades.
They became eligible for deportation because of past criminal convictions. The Cambodian government sought to halt the deportations last year, but the Trump Administration has reportedly informed the country that it should “prepare to receive 200 new arrivals each year for the next several years.”
In recent weeks, advocates have sought stays and gubernatorial pardons to prevent individual deportations, with some success; they have called on Omni Air International, the airline that ice has contracted, to cancel the flight.