In full transparency, the following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who were elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. Both are Democrats.
WASHINGTON DC – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) yesterday, April 13, wrote to the Department of Homeland Security requesting that it take into consideration the unique circumstances of Southeast Asian refugees who have decades-old or minor criminal convictions, and that the Department further investigate the “prison-to-deportation pipeline” that has resulted from over-policing and systemic racism, and disproportionately affects Southeast Asian American refugees.
The letter requests that the Department halt the deportation of any refugees while it finalizes new enforcement guidelines for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
From 2017 to 2018, under the Trump administration, deportations increased by 279 percent for Cambodian nationals, 71 percent for Vietnamese nationals, and 60 percent for Laotian nationals.
“This prison-to-deportation pipeline has now created an inhumane immigration crisis within the Southeast Asian community. Southeast Asian Americans, one of the largest refugee communities in the United States, came here to escape decades of war, genocide, and extreme instability that destroyed families and uprooted lives,” wrote the lawmakers in their letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
“Large waves of migration from Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos began in the 1970s. Against long odds over many decades, these Southeast Asian refugees have added much dynamism to the multicultural landscape and economy of the United States. But forty-five years later, many Southeast Asian community members are facing deportations to countries that they fled, and with which they have little to no connection,” wrote the legislators.
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
Since the passage of the Refugee Act in 1980, the United States has admitted more than 3.1 million refugees. Although there are countless success stories of refugees receiving placement assistance and rebuilding their lives in the United States, many refugees were resettled into under-resourced neighborhoods, resulting in systemic marginalization and numerous struggles, including mental health issues, poverty, language barriers, and challenging school environments.
Coupled with over-policing, punitive immigration laws, and systemic racism, many refugees from these communities ended up in the criminal justice system.