Tsuru for Solidarity Supports Pardon for Refugee in Danger of Deportation

0

Ad

Lam Hong Le speaks with Satsuki Ina of Tsuru for Solidarity.

SACRAMENTO — Tsuru for Solidarity is supporting a pardon for Lam Hong Le, 52, who was paroled in October 2019 after 32 years in prison as a youth offender.

Within minutes of his release, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained him and imprisoned him in the Yuba County Detention Facility. After 2 months and 8 days he was released under deportation proceedings.

“His next check-in is on June 7, 2021, at which time we are gravely concerned that ICE will take him back into custody and deport him immediately to Vietnam,” the group said in a statement.

“In March 2021, ICE picked up 33 men recently released from prison and deported them to Vietnam out of public view. This is in blatant disregard of the 2008 agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam not to deport Vietnamese refugees who arrived here prior to 1995. Lam arrived here in 1981 at the age of 12.

“He is in imminent danger of deportation and therefore requires the expediency of a direct pardon from Gov. (Gavin) Newsom. The routine California pardon process often takes years to be considered, but because of the potentially dire consequences for Lam, we are asking Gov. Newsom for the expediency of a ‘direct pardon.’

“If deported, Lam will face a hostile Vietnamese administration, subject to government surveillance and stigmatized as a traitor. He fears for his life.

Lam Hong Le

“He will face discrimination in finding employment and other opportunities to find a secure existence. With no family connections and meager resources, his survival is in question.

“In the 18 months of his relative freedom, Lam has acquired a full-time job as an essential worker. He is actively engaged in community service, and immersed in his warm and welcoming Vietnamese church community.

“He began his involvement with Tsuru for Solidarity as a dedicated member of Jun Hamamoto’s tsuru-folding class in San Quentin. We consider him a beloved and highly respected member of the Tsuru family. Lam is a kind, reflective, and hard-working man. He is a childhood survivor of extreme violence and trauma who transformed himself and now offers care for others who have also experienced childhood violence.”

The online petition to Newsom reads as follows:

“I am writing in support of Lam Hong Le, a former inmate at San Quentin, who is now in danger of being deported to Vietnam by ICE.

“In the midst of the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of Southeast Asian refugees fled to the U.S. to seek freedom from political persecution and the Communist take-over of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Many of those who fled fought alongside or supported U.S. forces during the war. Others were born in refugee camps and have never set foot in the country to which they currently face deportation.

“Lam Le was a child when he fled the Vietnam War. He survived the refugee camps even as others in his family perished, including his mother. Then he was brought by the U.S. government to California. Like so many other refugees, Lam’s family was resettled in a struggling neighborhood with little support and, as a result, his war-torn family was set up to fail upon arrival in the U.S.

“Lam, who was still a child, ended up homeless and joined a gang for survival. He was caught in a cycle of violence that had dominated his life and convicted as a youth offendor for murder during a gang conflict.

“Lam served over 32 years in prison. He did his time. He succeeded in rehabilitating himself and healing his childhood trauma.

A rally for Lam Hong Le outside the State Capitol included a performance by Bakuhatsu Taiko Dan.

“While in prison he became a devout Christian, educated himself, and transformed his life. Lam was released from San Quentin in the fall of 2019 at the age of 52. Tragically, within minutes of his release, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained him and imprisoned him in the Yuba County Detention Facility. After 2 months and 8 days he was released under deportation proceedings.

“Lam is subject to routine ‘check-ins’ with ICE. His next check-in is on June 7, 2021, at which time we are gravely concerned that ICE will take him back into custody and deport him immediately to Vietnam. ICE is acting in blatant disregard of the 2008 agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam to cease deportations of Vietnamese refugees who arrived in the U.S. prior to 1995.

“In March of 2021, 33 Vietnamese refugees were rounded up and quietly deported by ICE. Consequently, Lam Le is in imminent danger of deportation and therefore requires the expediency of a direct pardon from Gov. Newsom.

“If deported, Lam will face yet another crushing uprooting, He will be torn away from his younger brother and family to a place where he has no family connection, community support, or economic means.

“Having escaped the communist regime in Vietnam, Lam has made public statements about the atrocities he witnessed and would therefore be subject to government surveillance and stigmatized as a traitor. He will face discrimination in finding employment and other opportunities to find a secure existence. Others who associate with him could also become subject to surveillance and questioning.

“He fears for his ability to survive, but more so, he fears for his life. In the past, others with similar situations have disappeared and been murdered. The routine California pardon process often takes years to be considered, but because of the potentially dire consequences for Lam, we are asking Gov. Newsom for the expediency of a ‘direct pardon.’

“In the 18 months of his relative freedom, Lam has acquired a full-time job as an essential worker. He is actively engaged in community service, and immersed in his warm and welcoming Vietnamese church community. Lam is no threat to society and is, in fact, a kind, reflective, and hard-working man. He is a childhood survivor of extreme violence and trauma who transformed himself and now offers care for others who have also experienced childhood violence.

“In this time of rising anti-API hate and violence, the targeting of Southeast Asians by ICE is deplorable and does not reflect the values of our country. Lam served a total of 32 years in prison. He did his time. He succeeded in rehabilitating himself and healing his childhood trauma.

“We believe that granting Lam a pardon would represent the confirmation of a promise made to refugees and their families who fought alongside the U.S. during the war, that our democratic country would protect and keep them safe.

“For all these reasons, and under these pressing circumstances, I urgently request that you grant Lam Hong Le a direct pardon.”

Tsuru for Solidarity — a nonviolent, direct action project of Japanese American social justice advocates working to end detention sites and support front-line immigrant and refugee communities that are being targeted by racist, inhumane immigration policies — has received over 1,300 signatures on its petition.

The group also organized two events in partnership with the Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Sacramento Immigrant Coalition, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, and Detention Watch Network.

One was a virtual forum on May 26 with speakers explaining the intertwining systems of the criminal legal system and immigration detention and the impact on the Southeast Asian community. Participants met Lam and heard his story. Community members explained why they support Lam’s direct pardon effort.

The second event was an in-person rally on June 3 outside the State Capitol Building in Sacramento. Speakers pointed to the targeting of the Southeast Asian community by ICE, especially in this moment of anti-Asian violence. Bakuhatsu Taiko Dan from UC Davis performed. Co-sponsors included Japanese Americans for Justice and Nikkei Resisters (Oakland).

To support the campaign, award-winning Bay Area filmmaker Emiko Omori (“Rabbit in the Moon”) has produced a short documentary about Lam’s plight.

For more information, visit Tsuru for Solidarity’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY9-4ZiaS4_NxDmuLOFQKGw), Facebook page (https://m.facebook.com/TsuruForSolidarity/) or website (https://tsuruforsolidarity.org).

Tags

Share.

Leave A Reply