Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

Building upon the legacy of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center

A Major Victory for Cambodian Refugees’ Lawsuit Against ICE Raids and Arrests

Thursday, August 16th 2018
By Christopher Lapinig, Registered Legal Services Attorney, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles
 
This week we had a major victory in our work on behalf of the Cambodian American community, many of whom arrived here as refugees. Last fall, in the wake of the largest immigration raids targeting the Cambodian community, we filed Chhoeun v. Marin, a federal lawsuit on behalf of Cambodians at risk of unlawful arrests and detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This week, the federal judge in Chhoeun ruled that our lawsuit could move forward as a class action. You can read the class certification order here.
 
This ruling means that hundreds of Cambodians across the United States are a part of the lawsuit and benefit from the protections we are continuing to fight for, including an end to indiscriminate ICE raids and unwarranted detention. There are approximately 2,000 Cambodian refugees in the U.S. with final deportation orders that are at risk of unlawful immigration arrests and detention. 
 
In the past, ICE’s practice was to release Chhoeun class members from immigration detention in short order because Cambodia refused to accept most of them for deportation. Class members returned to their communities and spent years, even decades, supporting and caring for family, many of whom are U.S. citizens themselves. They held steady jobs and built small businesses, and they reported to ICE for periodic check-ins, even though Cambodia remained steadfast in its refusal to accept most of them for deportation.
 
All of this changed last fall. Starting last October, ICE rounded up over a hundred Cambodian refugees, and placed them in immigration detention. ICE ripped them away from their families and communities without notice or explanation, let alone an opportunity to challenge the unfairness of this new policy. In fact, some were told that they needed to come to an ICE office for a regular check-in, but when they arrived, they were handcuffed and shipped off to remote immigration detention facilities without ready access to legal services. 
 
ICE’s arrest and detention practices violate the Constitution, and that is why we brought this case. We filed the Chhoeun lawsuit, with our co-counsel Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, Sidley Austin LLP, and the American Civil Liberties Union to both free Cambodians subject to these unlawful practices and protect those at risk of immigration detention in the future.
 
This week’s ruling marks an important step toward curbing ICE’s unlawful practices and vindicating class members’ constitutional rights. It means that we can fight to protect all Cambodian refugees with deportation orders who were previously detained by ICE, released, and then went onto lead productive lives.
 
Class certification is significant, but the fight to stop unconstitutional immigration arrests is not over. We will push forward litigating the Chhoeun lawsuit, on behalf of class members across the country. To stay up to date on future developments, sign up for our e-mail alerts
 
Together, we can continue to fight for the rights of Cambodian refugees across the country. 

For Legal Help

Advancing Justice - LA’s hotlines prioritize assistance to low-income persons in the following areas of law: family, immigration, consumer, public benefits, employment, housing, and civil rights.

English: 888.349.9695
需要協助嗎: 800.520.2356
हिंदी 855.971.2552

ត្រូវការជំនួយជាភាសាខ្មែរ:

800.867.3126
도움이 필요하십니까?: 800.867.3640
Tagalog: 855.300.2552
ต้องการความช่วยเหลือ: 800.914.9583
Cần sự giúp đỡ: 800.267.7395

 

Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.