Monday, September 26, 2022

A Vietnamese man’s life in America changed but stopped

In September, Lam Hong Le may face the final stage in his relegation process. He was asked to obtain a Vietnamese passport and bring it with him for his next hearing in Yuba, California, on 8 September.

“I left Vietnam 42 years ago,” said 53-year-old Le, who fears a difficult life ahead. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, with its capital in the northern city of Hanoi, regards Vietnamese from the south as traitors who fled communist rule.

Le is one of several Southeast Asian refugees who suffered a hard landing upon arrival in the United States in the years following the fall of Saigon in 1975. His trajectory ended with a 1990 shooting at a California birthday party. Lay was convicted of murder at the age of 24. Sentenced to 34 years, prison authorities parole Lay and released him from San Quentin State Prison to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody on December 23, 2019.

After his release, Lay began working at a San Francisco homeless shelter, which the Oakland resident considered an essential worker during the pandemic. He is ready for promotion.

A rally to apologize for Lam Hong Le is organized by Tsuru for Solidarity outside the State Capitol in California, Sacramento, June 4, 2021. (Kiyoshi Ina)

Now, in order to avoid deportation to Vietnam, Lea is apologizing to California Governor Gavin Newsom. governor in 2019 Forgiven many CambodiansAnd Vietnamese . just a few months ago, in May, Newsom Forgiven two Laosians With life stories like Le’s.

But Newsom’s past performance is no indicator of Ley’s future. On 4 August a spokesman for Newsom’s office responded to a request for comments by VOA Vietnamese, saying via email that the office “cannot discuss individual clemency applications but can ensure that each is given careful and exclusive consideration.” will receive.”

Petitions and Protests

the subject matter Petitions and Protests in the San Francisco Bay Area. Satsuki Ina, an activist who is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in community trauma, told VOA Vietnamese that Le is “the person we truly believe to be worthy of being protected.”

A rally to apologize for Lam Hong Le is organized by Tsuru for Solidarity outside the State Capitol in California, in Sacramento, June 4, 2021. (Amiko Omori)

Vietnam War refugees such as Ley who came to the US before July 12, 1995 – the date on which Washington and Hanoi officially reestablished war ties – are protected under a bilateral agreement signed in 2008 had to go.

But President Donald Trump’s administration chose pre-1995 refugees with criminal records for deportation to Vietnam in November 2020. Memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the US and Vietnam.

Representative Alan Lowenthal, a California Democrat,criticizedThe memorandum of understanding with Vietnam is “morally disturbing”, saying it violates the “clear promises made by the US to these refugees after the Vietnam War”.

Le said he should not be deported back to Vietnam where he has no ties.

their story echoed across Americaas a nation Policy on immigrant offenders is amended . At a time of growing fear in Asian American communities due to the response to COVID-19 and hate crimes, deportations add to the unease.

Hate crimes targeting Asian Americans rose 150% in major US cities

According to data from California State University, anti-Asian hate crimes have increased, as have overall hate crimes declined.

violent past

According to a report by the Migration Policy Institute, mass immigration from Vietnam to the United States began at the end of the Vietnam War, when the fall of Saigon led to the US-sponsored evacuation of an estimated 125,000 refugees. As the humanitarian crisis and displacement of people intensified in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, the US admitted more refugees and their families under the 1980s.refugee act, which amended the earlier Immigration and Nationality Act and the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act.

Lay was 12 years old and his younger brother, Mickey Lay, 10, left Ho Chi Minh City, then known as Saigon, without his parents in 1979. After living in a refugee camp in Hong Kong for a year, the brothers arrived in Los Angeles in 1981. they were among them Over 231,000 Vietnamese who arrived in the US in the early 1980s.

Most Vietnamese refugees entered the US through sponsorship, like Ley and his brother. Sponsors include companies with links to refugees through churches, individual families and Vietnamese collection of california.

The refugee settlement process assigned the brothers to different sponsors. Although Mickey settled in and adjusted to his American life, his older brother ran away at age 14 in what was described as an abusive situation. Le took refuge in a gang, a common storyAmong Southeast Asian refugees in the US

Lay was first imprisoned in 1986 when he was 19 for assault with a deadly weapon, a felony that carried a five-year sentence. He was released after serving two years. After killing a member of a rival gang, he received a life sentence of 34 years in 1990.

“I thought I was going to die there,” Le said, even though his sentence likely included parole.

changes and releases

But Ley turned himself in at California’s San Quentin State Prison, attending educational programs, attending church, and helping other inmates.

In December 2019, the state parole hearing board released him, and he left prison after serving a total of 32 years.

ICE officials were waiting for him at the gate, who were informed by the state prison authorities about Ley’s release. He was sent to an ICE detention center in Yuba County, where he was held for two months and eight days before being released for deportation proceedings.

While waiting for word from Newsom’s office, Lea lives in a transitional home in Oakland, California, and works in nearby San Francisco.

” [Le] Got a full time job providing services to homeless people in San Francisco and is ready to be promoted to supervisor because she has done so well, is kind to people, and has received a lot of praise,” said Ina Said who is a co-organizer Tsuru for Solidarity, a Japanese American social justice organization focused on ending mass detention and “racist, inhumane immigration policies” in the US.

Lam Hong Le volunteers clean the streets in Oakland Chinatown, Calif. (Tsuru for Solidarity)

“He has volunteered as a street ambassador in Oakland’s Chinatown, where he cleaned streets and escorted the elderly.anti asian hate Said Ina, who was born in an American internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II.

According to Ina, in May, Lay used CPR to save the life of a homeless man who had overdose.

Jeffrey Gray, the man resurrected by Lay, told Bay Area TV station KTVU that he was “very grateful to Lay.”

working with ina’s groupSoutheast Asia Resource Work Center, a national rights group; NS Sacramento Immigration Coalitionand other support groups to mobilize support to persuade Newsom to pardon Lee.

‘His existence in question’

“If exiled,[Le]The hostile Vietnamese administration under government surveillance would face and be stigmatized as a traitor. …he will face discrimination in finding employment and other opportunities to find a secure existence. With no family connections and little resources, his existence is in question,” read a petition with over 3,450 signatures.

Le, who is in danger of being deported soon, needs a direct pardon from the governor. According to Ina, waiting for California’s pardon review process to decide on her case could take years.

Ina said that deporting Ley was in violation of the original agreement protecting refugees that came before 1995. He hopes Newsom will make an exception and expedite Ley’s case.

“We think that if we pardon him, it will get enough attention that other Southeast Asians, especially Vietnamese refugees, will be saved from being deported back,” Ina said.

After being released from ICE custody, Le was reunited with his younger brother in Oakland in January 2020.

“We cried,” Mickey Lay said of meeting his brother after nearly 30 years.

Lam Hong Lay, left, and his brother Mickey Le at their reunion during the Fourth of July holiday weekend in Los Angeles. (Lam Hong Le)

The brothers next met over the holiday weekend of the Fourth of July in Los Angeles. Mickey, who is married with three children and runs a small business in Los Angeles, said, “I am so happy to see that [he] is doing to serve the community, and I hope he is able to stay in America”

Le said that his release and his job changed his life completely.

“Now I have a chance to make a real change,” Le said, adding that he dreams of living a peaceful life and being able to pay back the community groups that support him.

Referring to his past as a youth delinquent, Le said, “I would like to have the opportunity to share my experience with the children.” “I would like to advise homeless children not to go down the wrong path like I did.”


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