A Lowell resident who came to the U.S. as a child refugee from Cambodia is suing the federal government to allow him to return from Cambodia, after he was deported in 2018. In June, 2019, an immigration judge found that Thy Chea, 50, was in fact a lawful permanent resident and should be allowed to return, while court proceedings continue. In a complaint filed Monday in federal court, Chea’s lawyers said that immigration officials have “unlawfully” refused to facilitate Chea’s return.
Chea’s deportation stems from a 1999 case, when he pled guilty to assault and battery and “threat to commit a crime.” Chea’s lawyers argue that his charges are not deportable, and the immigration judge handling his case has said that while the case is open, Chea should be allowed to return. The lawyers describe repeated unsuccessful attempts, through the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia and the Department of Homeland Security, to secure Chea’s return.