As we cherish our loved ones this holiday season, 36 Khmer Americans will be oceans apart from their families in a place most have never been before.
Roughly a week before Christmas, these community members were packed on a one-way Omni Air International flight to Cambodia. The 36 Khmer Americans were part of a late summer wave of raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) into our communities, which included the seizure of seven Khmer Americans (called the WA7) from the Seattle-Tacoma area.
Khmer Americans are one of the most vulnerable groups of refugees in the United States and have endured a continuous cycle of displacement and redisplacement; U.S. bombings, a genocide, an ensuing refugee wave; and now deportation.
“He’s my father figure,” said Jane Chan of her uncle Thouy Phok, one of the WA7. “Since my Great Grandmother passed … he’s been the one to hold us all together.”
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