‘I felt like I’d lost my family’: After 18 months, Lowell man said

Thy Chea, a Cambodian refugee, was sent back to a country he’d escaped from at 10 years old. His family and community rallied, fighting for his return.

A Cambodian refugee met his 1-year-old son, holding him for the first time, in Terminal A at Boston’s Logan Airport late last month. 

Thy Chea, a Lowell resident since 1991 who said he was wrongly detained, then deported in August 2018, returned home on Feb. 26 after an 18-month legal fight against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

Chea said he was unexpectedly detained after getting a call from Boston’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

“They wanted me to come down,” Chea said, “to sign some papers.” 

But when he’d checked in with ICE officers the month before, as per an order of supervision stemming from two, older criminal offenses, they hadn’t mentioned this. 

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