Victory for Cambodian Communities in Lawsuit Against ICE

Source: Advancing Justice LA

An Orange County judge has been temporarily stopped the deportation of 92 Cambodian immigrants.

Yesterday Judge Cormac J. Carney granted an injunction that will extend the stay of deportation until at least February 5, 2018, and will remain in place for people who have moved to reopen their old removal orders until their cases are resolved.

The plaintiffs are represented by civil rights organizations Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (Advancing Justice – ALC), Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice – LA), the American Civil Liberty Union, and Sidley Austin LLP.

Last October, Cambodian communities were left devastated as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) carried out the nation’s largest raids on Southeast Asian communities in history. Most of those detained came to the United States as child refugees, escaping the horrors of the Khmer Rouge.

Their deportation orders were a result of mistakes made often as youths navigating life in poor neighborhoods riddled with gang violence. Because Cambodia refused to accept them for deportation, they were released by ICE years or decades ago. Since then, they’ve turned their lives around, becoming spouses, parents, and integral members of their communities.

Many of the plaintiffs have strong avenues to attack their old removal orders based on new legal developments. But ICE has prevented them from doing so by detaining them without notice and transferring them thousands of miles away from loved ones and attorneys. Calling ICE’s actions “deeply troubling,” the court agreed that the plaintiffs deserve an opportunity to challenge their removal orders before being cast out of the country.

“ICE’s campaign of detention and deportation ignores the reality that Cambodian refugees with deportation orders continue making vital contributions to our communities,” said Jenny Zhao, Immigrant Rights Staff Attorney at Advancing Justice – ALC. “As this decision affirms, the government’s actions here offend our basic desire for justice and the Constitution.”

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who co-argued this case, and argued cases in Detroit for Iraqis, Boston for Indonesians, and Miami for Somalis, says: “The court had the same understandable reaction as federal judges in Detroit, Boston and Miami have recently had, pointedly asking why the administration was intent on abruptly removing long term residents without even giving them a chance to show they were entitled to remain here.”

“While the fight is not yet over, we applaud the court’s decision today to keep Cambodian families together,” said Laboni Hoq, Litigation Director at Advancing Justice – LA. “The United States is the only home that most of these refugees have ever known. It is wrong and inhumane for ICE to keep pursuing them for deportation.”