Deporting Cambodians exhibit

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Banner from Khmer Girls in Action, on display at the opening of “Deporting Cambodians,” February 5, 2009.
Banner from Khmer Girls in Action, on display at the opening of “Deporting Cambodians,” February 5, 2009.

“Although recent deportations of Cambodians living in the US shocked the Asian Pacific Islander American community, they represent just one point in a long line of U.S. immigration policies that have dramatically shaped the lives of immigrants. Deporting, detaining and denying entry to immigrants have long been used by the federal government to offset legal immigration.  Over time, factors such as health, financial security, criminal history, education and literacy have been used to screen people entering the US. Fear and racism motivated many of the regulations, often roused by political or economic events…  Increasing global migration has challenged US immigration policy in recent decades. In an attempt to balance legal immigration with concerns about crime, drugs and terrorism, Congress in 1996 greatly expanded the number of deportable crimes. Among those affected by these changes were several thousand young Cambodian Americans with prior criminal convictions. Many languished in INS detention with deportation orders but nowhere to go, since Cambodia refused to accept deportees. Kim Ho Ma, a young Cambodian who had grown up in Seattle, challenged this indefinite detention, which the Supreme Court ruled impermissible in 2001.  Though Ma and others were freed, Cambodia signed an agreement in March 2002 to take back those who had been ordered deported. Many had lived in the US for nearly 20 years.” – Dori Cahn, “Deporting Cambodians: How Immigration Policy Shapes Our Communities” 

Place(s): Seattle
Year: 2002

– Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience

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