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As ICE cracks down on Cambodian communities, a mother says goodbye to her son

Elizabeth Chan and her son, Kouen “TJ” Hem, wait in line at San Francisco’s ICE building on March 13, 2019. Hem was detained several hours later.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is targeting long-time residents with criminal convictions, most of whom have lived in the US since fleeing the Cambodian genocide as children.

A few hours before he’s deported, Kouen “TJ” Hem starts working his way through a crumpled pack of Newports. “I’m about to smoke as much as I can before I go turn myself in,” he says.

We’re standing in front of San Francisco’s Asian Law Caucus, where about two dozen activists, attorneys, and family members have gathered to protest Cambodian deportations. TJ spent a little time inside with the activists, then went outside to be alone. He says thinks he might be the stupid one here. Some people disappear when they get their deportation notices.

“I see no point in running anywhere,” he says. TJ’s still hoping for his deportation order to be reversed, and making a break for it would jeopardize his case. “Whatever chance I have, that’s what I’m going to take,” he says.

The crowd at the Asian Law Caucus pours into the street. Cambodian grandmothers in pink jackets and the occasional Raiders hat are passing around protest signs. Together, we walk downtown to San Francisco’s immigration building, where TJ and the other deportees are expected to check in at 8 a.m.
Continue read article at: https://www.kalw.org/post/ice-cracks-down-cambodian-communities-mother-says-goodbye-her-son


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