Deportation of Asians
After decades in the U.S., hundreds of Cambodians who arrive as refugees are being deported back. For many, it’s a culture shock stepping down into their country of origin. Many that are deported, came to the U.S. between the ages of 1 and 10 years old.
I felt compassion for the deportees, after hearing their stories on how it all began. For me, I didn’t know what was going on with deportation in America; I just threw it to side and said it wasn’t my business. It wasn’t until last year where a friend hosted a documentary film viewing at a theater in Santa Ana. That film was Cambodian Son. Cambodian Son follows the story of a man; Kosal Kheiv who grew up in California his whole life after coming to the states as an adolescent. By the age of 16, he was tried as adult for attempted murder. He spent most of his time in the correctional facility. Serving 14 years out of the 16 that he was sentenced. During his time in the correctional facility, he found out what he was good at performing arts and being a spoken word artist. He was taken away from the correctional facility and placed in an immigration detention center. Where he spent one year awaiting his faith. He would soon find out that he was to be deported to a country he hasn’t stepped foot in since he was an adolescent. He would go on to face the struggles of living in Cambodia, until he is provided help from others giving him a chance to do something about it.
After seeing the film, I talked with the director. He tells me there are many like Kosal Kheiv. It wasn’t until my recent trip back to Cambodia, where I found out what the true struggles was for these deportees, or “DP’s” how they would prefer to call themselves. The Dp’s struggle with finding jobs and face discrimination from the government and community around them, because of the way they dress and look. The local police labeled myself as a deportee. They asked me when did I get here and what crime did I commit. I knew all they wanted was money from me. So I paid them a couple dollars to leave me be. It wasn’t till later; I was with a friend and I told him what happened. He told me that was because I look like a DP. Just because I wore shorts, a tank top, covered in tattoos, and didn’t shave; I was automatically targeted.
During my 2-month stay in Cambodia, I managed to meet other DP’s. Once they got to know me, they shared with me their story on how they were deported back and what struggles they face. For many it was the same story over and over. They served their time and became working class citizens, until ICE agents came knocking at their door without reason and placed them in a detention center. There, they would spend 6 months to 2 years finding out if they would be sent back to their home country. For those who were one of the first groups who were deported back, they managed to start a new life. One DP, that I have mad respect to was Tuy Sobil aka “KK”. He opened up his home to kids living in poverty and those who were abandoned by their parents. His Non-Government Organization (NGO) became well known around the non-profit community around the world. His NGO “Tiny Toones”, offers kids the chance to attend school for free, learn about music and dance. Visiting the school, opened my eyes on how much potential these kids have if given a chance.
In my opinion, our lawmakers need to take a second look at our deportation laws. I can see there are some flaws in it. How would you feel if you came as a child to the United States only to find out you would be deported back as an adult and you didn’t read or speak the language because all you knew was the American Culture and English language?