“America isn’t ready to answer your questions yet.”

*response written by Anoop Prasad, Immigrant Rights Senior Staff Attorney at Advancing Justice — Asian Law Caucus*

Dear Ny,

I’m so glad your supporters got to hear from you directly. We’ve been writing for almost four years now. I’m sure they will see the person that I have gotten to know — one who finds hope and compassion in the face of violence and injustice. From refugee camps to domestic violence and sexual assault to prison to immigration detention, you’ve been asked to endure more than could be asked anyone at far too young of an age. It would be a wonder if you survived.

Yet, you’re doing so much more than surviving. When I heard you were using your training to provide substance abuse counseling to the women with you in the Yuba County Jail, it didn’t surprise me — that is who you are. Faced with hardship, you respond with quiet resilience and compassion for everyone around you.

You come from a long lineage of women who survived and found hope amidst bombs, genocide, famine, gang wars, misogyny, and deportation. From Stockton to San Quentin to Phnom Penh, I’ve shared meals and conversation with Khmer refugees. Time and time again, I see Cambodian people responding to violence with love, humor, compassion, and community. You’re a part of that beautiful tradition and lineage.

You ask how deportation benefits anyone. It doesn’t. You ask when separation from your community will end. Not soon enough for you and everyone else inside. America isn’t ready to answer your questions yet though. For far too long, we’ve been caught in a cycle of fear and vengeance. Rather than embrace survivors, the hurt, and the broken, America locks up 2.3 million people in the dark corners of isolated swamps and deserts hoping no one sees the truth.

The time is coming when America will have to face the devastation of its bombs, prisons, and deportations and ask how can we heal? When it does, the answer is in your experience, in the compassion you show for others, and in your veins. Until then, don’t allow these walls to silence you. Speak your story, your hope, and your compassion. Insist that America sees you and all of the other survivors behind bars. This is your home. Your community is here to make sure that it remains so.

Until freedom,

Anoop

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