Khmer Girls in Action, a nonprofit organization in Long Beach that works with the city’s sizeable Cambodian population, is joining numerous organizations and individuals every Tuesday in phone banking Immigration and Customs Enforcement to demand the release of immigrants being held in its detention facilities, especially those with underlying health conditions that make them vulnerable to coronavirus.
The ICE detention facilities are often overcrowded, and diseases can spread quickly among detainees. The Center for Disease Control reported a significant outbreak of mumps that spread to 57 different ICE run detention facilities from 2018 to 2019.
While most Cambodian immigrants arrived in the United States with refugee status and are legally considered permanent residents, their residency can be easily lost if they commit a crime, including non-violent ones. In many cases, decades pass between the offense and when those who committed them are deported. Middle aged people who are now productive community members and parents are being deported for crimes they committed when they were teenagers.