Congressman Lowenthal Calls For Trump Administration to Release Recently Detained Cambodian and Vietnamese Refugees

November 9, 2017
Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today joined with five of his House colleagues in urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to immediately release hundreds of Cambodian and Vietnamese individuals recently detained by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Members are also calling on DHS to provide an explanation for any changes in ICE procedures leading to the recent spike in detentions among these communities across the country. The Members are also requesting a detailed account of exactly how many of these Cambodian and Vietnamese individuals have been swept up in the recent spike of ICE detentions.

In the letter to Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke and President Donald Trump, the Members point out that in recent months, "…constituents have contacted our offices to express terror and trauma that they are experiencing from escalated deportation tactics of this Administration. Most, if not all, of those detained were lawful permanent residents who came to the United States as refugees following the end of the Vietnam War and the Khmer Rouge genocide. Many were born in refugee camps and have never set foot in the countries that ICE would remove them to."

The Members go on to explain, "We are concerned that the recent actions by ICE are a part of U.S. pressure tactics around revising the current Memorandum of Understanding that allows for the repatriation of these individuals in Cambodia. Similarly, we are very concerned by reports of the detention of pre-1995 arrivals from Vietnam, since the United States has had a repatriation agreement in place with the U.S since 2008 that protects these individuals."

The Members conclude by stating, "It is troubling to see one of the biggest roundups of Southeast Asian refugees in recent memory happening during the first year of this Administration. Our constituents and families across the country should not be used as political pawns while the U.S. works out diplomatic disputes."

In addition to Congressman Lowenthal, the letter was also signed by Congress Members Judy Chu, Lou Correa, Ro Khanna, Ted Lieu, and Zoe Lofgren.

To read the full text of the letter, click here.

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