New bill would give relief to Southeast Asian refugees facing deportation

New bill would give relief to Southeast Asian refugees facing deportationNew bill would give relief to Southeast Asian refugees facing deportation
Khier Casino
September 21, 2022
A new bill hoping to end the deportation of noncitizens convicted of certain crimes was introduced on Tuesday.
The Southeast Asian Deportation Relief Act would allow judges to grant relief to those with prior convictions who are also facing deportation.
About 15,000 Southeast Asians in the U.S. have final removal orders, according to the Southeast Asian Freedom Network, a coalition of grassroots organizations that supports people facing deportation to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
“These community members have already served their time and rebuilt their lives only to now face threats of deportation to countries they fled as children,” the group wrote on Facebook during a livestream of the bill’s introduction on Tuesday. “We call on Congress to stop this cruel and inhumane punishment and support #SEARR.”
In 1996, the Illegal Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act was signed into law by former President Bill Clinton. The law had a disproportionate impact on Southeast Asian immigrant communities that lived in low-income and high-crime neighborhoods.
It also expanded the list of offenses a noncitizen could be deported for, according to the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), one of the new bill’s sponsors.
“68% of legal permanent residents who are deported are deported for minor, non-violent crimes,” the nonprofit organization wrote in 2018, citing a study by the Immigration Policy Center. “Deportation places unbearable burdens on families, who may lose a spouse, parent, caretaker, or child.”
If passed, the Southeast Asian Deportation Relief Act would limit the Department of Homeland Security’s control over the deportation of people from Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos who came to the U.S. before 2008. It would also give permanent authorization of employment for individuals who have a final order of removal. Furthermore, the bill would end in-person Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency check-ins.
Ke, a refugee from Vietnam, is just one of many who have shared their stories with SEARAC and what would happen to him and his family if he were to be deported.
“I made a terrible choice when I was a kid, I can never take back what I’ve done,” Ke said in an anti-deportation PSA for SEARAC, with Hmong subtitles. “My goal is to save our community, to heal our community.”
Legislators and advocates also took to Twitter to express support for members of the Southeast Asian community who face deportations.
“We should not be deporting vulnerable community members to countries where their basic human rights & safety are threatened,” wrote Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D, MA-7).
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“#SEADRA is a bill that will prevent the unfair and cruel deportations of Southeast Asian refugees, ensure access to work permits, and end ICE check ins,” wrote the Asian American Legal Twitter account. “In short, it keeps families together. Tell Congress we need the Southeast Asian Deportation Relief Act.”
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Featured Image via seafnofficial
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