White House Protesters Decry Deportations to Cambodia

More than 50 activists protesting the detention of two Cambodian men and the targeting of thousands of other Southeast Asians for deportation from the U.S. rallied outside the White House in Washington on Wednesday, a statement from the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (Searac) said.

More than 560 Cambodians have been deported from the U.S. to Cambodia under a 2002 agreement that allows for the repatriation of non-U.S. citizens who have been convicted of felony crimes. The last seven arrived last month.

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Activists protest the US’s 2002 repatriation policy outside the White House in Washington on Wednesday. (Southeast Asia Resource Action Center)

Wednesday’s protesters highlighted the cases of Chamroeun Phan and Sameth Nhean, two members of a high-profile group of eight Cambodians from Minnesota—all refugees who have lived in the U.S. since they were young children, the statement said. They were all detained by U.S. immigration authorities in August.

Since then, five of the “Minnesota 8” have been deported to Cambodia and one was released in February. Mr. Phan and Mr. Nhean, still detained, avoided deportation in March when immigration judges issued emergency stays of removal. Last month, a judge granted Mr. Phan relief from his removal order because of the “extreme hardship” his deportation would cause his wife, daughter and elderly parents, who are U.S. citizens, according to Mr. Phan’s sister, Montha Chum.

“Chamroeun and Sameth are both deeply loved and missed by their families and their communities,” Ms. Chum said in the statement. “We will continue organizing and fighting until they are released.”

Mr. Nhean is awaiting a hearing and Mr. Phan is awaiting a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals on the Department of Homeland Security’s appeal of the judge’s relief ruling, said Searac’s immigration policy manager, Katrina Dizon Mariategue, in an email.

Correction: The article has been clarified to note the activists protested the targeting of thousands of Southeast Asians for deportation.

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