Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Southeast Asian Groups Barred from White House Presentation on Deportation

Since 2002, the U.S. has been deporting Cambodian Americans, most of whom entered as refugees, who have been convicted of certain crimes. These deportations, which began to include Vietnamese a few years ago, are causing great hardship for these U.S. communities. The failure of U.S. immigration laws to provide for the opportunity to seek a second chance in removal proceedings is a true shortcoming of U.S. policies. See generally here.

Now, in a shocking disappointment, Southeast Asian community groups have prevented from discussing the issue at a White House forum that was set up by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

From One Love Movement:

A Statement from Southeast Asian American Community Groups
One Love Movement, Pennsylvania
Providence Youth Student Movement, Rhode Island
Khmer Girls in Action, California
Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association, Louisiana
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, New York
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, Washington D.C.

On November 1 2011, videos were submitted by community groups around the country for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) “What’s Your Story” Video challenge . Winners from the contest would have the opportunity to present their issue at the White House to White House Administration officials at an event called “Champions of Change” on April 5, 2012.

We were really excited to see Studio Revolt’s video on the issue of deportation in the Cambodian American community, My Asian Americana, be chosen for the final 11, because it meant we were being heard. It’s a video that speaks to the activism work of our community, challenges institutional oppression and unjust immigration policies, and shows the depth of our humanity.

The community and the country watched and voted, and “My Asian Americana” went viral and was viewed by thousands of people! We were thrilled. We knew a presentation at the White House would not solve the problem of deportation. But it would be a step in this long haul movement. However, Studio Revolt was not invited to the White House as one of the 9 out of 11 chosen groups, despite clear and massive public support. Our families, our communities, our pain, was silenced again.


We’re angry because our country was the target of secret and illegal US bombing during an unjust war in Southeast Asia.
…because the destruction of bombing led a genocidal dictatorship to rise and wipe out nearly a third of our people.
…because we lived with unknown futures in Thai refugee camps for years.
…because as refugees in the US, we were resettled in neighborhoods that didn’t accept us.
…because we suffer from PTSD & are given little access to mental health services.
…because our teachers have limited language services to communicate with our parents.
…because we are not given quality or equal education.
…because we are bullied & beat up by our peers who don’t understand us or our history.
…because we are labeled “gang members” and racially profiled because we stick together.
…because we feel the complex heartbreak of poor choices made with little guidance.
…because rehabilitated re-entry offers few avenues to work & support our families.
…because our loved ones are detained & mandatorily deported by ICE for past mistakes.
…because the prison industry is making billions separating our families & locking us up.
…because our loved ones are torn away from us & sent back to the country we once fled.
…because our families are struggling to make ends meet.
…because our country believes in second chances, but we don’t see them.
…because we are doubly punished.
…because our community is labeled “criminal aliens.”
We’re angry because our struggle is being silenced.

“My Asian Americana” gave the public and our government yet another opportunity to understand and acknowledge the unjust conditions in which we live, and the unjust policies that dehumanize us. But that opportunity wasn’t taken, because our government considers the issue of deportation for criminal convictions “too controversial”. Our community has been campaigning and building power around this issue since 2002, and we are continuously silenced. Our government, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), prefer to label us “criminal aliens”, “threats to society”, and use our community as a political scapegoat – instead of understanding the depth and complexity of our struggle, recognizing the severe due process and proportionality violations in the law, and the long term effects deportation will have on our communities and families for decades to come. Read more... and express your support of giving voice to Southeast Asian communities in the United States.



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