Bill Ong Hing, Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco and Professor Emeritus, University of California, Davis

:33 My name is Bill Hing and I’m a professor of law and Asian American Studies at UC Davis.


:55 Well, the United States started taking in Cambodian refugees in large part because it felt, the US felt culpable, and it was culpable, in dragging Cambodia in to the SEA war because Cambodian had attempted to remain neutral but the VC were using military routes on one of the borders between VN and C so the US began to bomb, secretively unknown to Congress, bomb the routes. This was under the Nixon administration because the military was not supposed to go into other countries so it began doing that. And as a result, C reacted negatively to that, so they resisted the US coming in. So the US 1:53 offered support to a right-wing faction that would allow the US to come in. The long and short of it is that that right-wing faction, which was led by Pol Pot ultimately prevailed in C and the US went in full force at that time. 2:21 VN fought back against Pol Pot, but during that whole era of Pol Pot, as people know, millions of C were subject to what many people consider genocide of his own people, auto-genocide. And as a result of that, the US felt obligated, in my opinion, after people started fleeing to Thailand and other places, the US felt obligated to take responsibility for some of those refugees. 3:00


3:12 Pol Pot was one of the most evil people that we can imagine in modern recorded history. His strategy was to rid the country of any intellectuals, of any people that were in the cities because he felt that to control the people, if you move them to the fields and make them subject to manual labor, widespread across the country, that he could control them more. So he had his military kill people to humiliate people, to put them in re-education camps to wipe out anyone who had any kind of secondary education, anyone who was an artist, any one who had any inkling to be anything than just a farmer. Pol Pot wanted to rid the country of all that. And so people would be punished for resisting 4:24 and people would be punished for questioning. And punished is a mild way of saying they were killed. And so families were destroyed, villages were destroyed if they showed any kind of resistance. 4:37 Individuals, parents would be killed in front of, or one spouse would be killed in front of another spouse. One or two of their children or more would be killed. And this was all to force them into subjugation.

4:55 so individuals and partial families began to march and flee to Thailand because it’s one of the borders and that’s where countless countless C ended up in Thai refugee camps.


5:28 The refugees were not upper-middle class or of the educated class. They were people that were poor and that’s because they were caught in the crossfire. They were viewed as a danger if they showed any kind of resistance. And any kind of resistance could have meant talking back, it could have been raising a question. So no, the vast majority of refugees from C are poor, even before they left the country. They were working class, they were agricultural workers, definitely low wage workers. 6:14


6:20 Well, Pol Pot’s military people were ruthless and they were indiscriminate. So what evolved was a military regime that did whatever it wanted to. It would rape, it would kill, it would just indiscriminately kill people under the guise of this theory of ridding the country of an educated class, of a middle class kind of thing. So they were not accountable 6:47 to anyone. And the higher military didn’t care what the regular military folks were doing, so what resulted was although it was in theory supposed to be targeted, in practice, it wasn’t. It was widely indiscriminate, so everyone got caught in this and the fear was everywhere.

And so as hard as it may be to believe that if you’re not part of the educated classes you would still be persecuted, that’s what was happening because it was all about control. It was all about moving people to areas of the country into the field so that they could be controlled. And if there was any resistance, there was no question, they would be killed. Any suspicion on the part of the military people would end up in shooting. In forcing people to dig their own graves. Forcing people to witness relatives and friends and neighbors being killed. It was all psychological as well as physical.


8:09 The military was not everywhere, so people walked and they walked through jungles and they had to hide because they fled in fear. And The C that fled were constantly looking over their shoulders in addition to having to carry elderly people to carry children. They didn’t have cars, they didn’t have buses, they had carts. So they could pull some of the elderly people, but mostly they walked.

And so while the military wasn’t everywhere, they were in some places. And when they saw people, they just killed because they felt these people were not part of the group that was willing to be controlled and subjugated. And so the act itself of leaving was viewed as an act of resistance that was punished by Pol Pot.

9:06 so yes, people left by looking over one’s shoulder in fear and some of them were killed on the way. Others died of starvation or weakness or illness, and part of that is calculated as the millions of people that died.


9:35 When they made it to T, and this is all in the 1975-1980 era, the camps were constructed over night. It was not something that was planned. And it wasn’t just C refugees. It was refugees from VN and refugees from Laos as well, coming into these camps in T. Other camps were being constructed in the Philippines.

10:11 People arrived not anticipating that they would go to the west. They arrived hoping that they would be taken in anywhere from safety and as the UN and other countries came to their aid, the US had to also at least show its face to see what was happening to these individuals and began to realize within the administration …let me back up a little bit.

10:51 So when the public in the US first learned that the US had actually invaded C, that was the spring of 1970 when it was revealed. And that’s when, the protest about the war just catapulted when that occurred, when the knowledge occurred that that happened.

So the American public was aware by then that the US had a hand in dragging C into the war so that when you fast forward past 1974, 1975 VN comes into C and creates more of a havoc, more people fleeing, the world knows at that point that hundreds of thousands of people were fleeing from C and from other countries. So the US could not hide. The US had to 11:55 acknowledged that there were refugees. And the US had to acknowledge that the refugee problem was partly its problem because by –after 1975 of course, the US had withdrawn from the war in April 1975 and the US did not want to take on every refugee, in fact the US only wanted to take a few thousand refugees, mostly VN who were people who helped the US as translators or as analysts and that type of thing. But when it became clear the large numbers of people that had fled and were not in safety, the US realized that it had to re-look at what it was doing for its refugees.

And by then it was Prez Ford who was Pres and he had various offices in the administration from the State Department and Dept of J and HR departments. They had to plan what they were going to do and how much the US could handle. 13:13 They came up with a plan that they would accept refugees from all three countries. Initially, they only wanted VN and in fact, in the end, the largest number of SEA refugees that have arrived in the US are VN, but the C and L (which included the Hmong and the Mien), they couldn’t be ignored either and so when it was clear that the US had to admit people from everywhere, that was the plan. The plan that 13:52 the Ford administration came up with was yes, we will take in people from all these camps, from all three countries, but it turned out that the vast majority were VN because there were larger numbers and they started coming earlier, immediately after 1975.

So between 14:12 in the late ‘70s, the numbers of the C were somewhere between 15-20,000 and then in the 1980s, there were a few thousand each year that would come, but it was all part of a responsibility that the US knew that it had for all of that area.


14:50that’s a very good questions, “what do refugees get when they come here and where do they get support from.” Yes, in the beginning, there were sponsorship programs where the US called on US citizens to help take responsibility. They called on churches and clubs, community organizations, encourage members and regular people to sponsor refugees. And all over the country because the US didn’t want to have all the refugees in one state or in one part of the country. They wanted to spread the impact around, so there were rotary clubs and churches where they talked their members into sponsoring—and it really only meant that maybe they would help a little bit with buying food and clothing, but the sponsors weren’t going to be giving their salary to refugees. It was more moral support 15:47 and maybe an occasional meal or sweater or pants or something like that. It really was up to the federal government to come up with any other programs and the only programs that the country had between 1975 and 1985 for example—you have to understand that this is the largest group of refugees that the US had ever admitted to the country and it was a very different culture. We had admitted people from other countries after wars, Europe, Hungary for example, but not in such vast numbers—and so the U was really caught off guard with all this and really unprepared.

16:31 so the only kind of programs they really had during those first 10 years was a little bit of language training and job training. And so that you end up with the VN, the first group of VN that came, they were a little educated, they were the military leaders. But the kind of training they got, military leaders would end up being janitors or restaurant workers. They didn’t get high paying jobs. And the C and L that came in, they were in a much worse shape—psychologically and financially. And what the policy makers felt was a little bit of job training and language training. There really was little offered by way of 17:28 other kinds of things that you might want. What’s it like living in the country. What challenges is your family going to face living in a new home in a neighborhood. There was not housing constructed for these individuals. Yes, some of them in big cities could qualify for public housing, and even in small cities where there was public housing, but most of them were given a housing stipend because that’s part of the resettlement package. You do get public assistance, money. But you don’t get much more that a hand shack (if that) and this access to language and job training. The rest of your life in that neighborhood, in that community, in this country, it’s entirely up to you and to the environment. 18:20 how you’re going to react and what you’re going to have available to you.

And so it really was, in my view, that was a huge oversight on the part of the US and I think that what has happened to many refugee families, subsequent to their admission here, reflects a failure of the resettlement project because these are individuals, the parents especially, who were suffering from the after effects of war, what some people call post-traumatic stress and we didn’t anticipate that they were in such bad shape.

And one example is I don’t think they were prepared to be parents in the US. They were parents in a world that was first 19:20 well the last world they were in was filled with devastation. And the world before that was a culture where they spent most of the day with their children and it was the old Asian cultural clique where it was a patriarchical family where the parents were revered and the parents were who you listened to. And all of a sudden they’re in this country where they don’t even see their children, at least their school age children, they don’t see them most of the day. And the children learn the language quicker than the parents. And the children are beginning the values and the habits and the customs of the kids that they hang out with school. They kids that they hang out with or don’t hang out with school view them as an attraction or an oddity, and in some communities, there’s some receiving members of the community that are opened armed, and there’s others that are not. There are some that try to help people out and some that make fun of the new comers. 20:39 So depending on where somebody ends up, you could end up in a situation where you’re made fun of, where you’re beat up, where you don’t have a clue what’s going on. The bi-lingual education program in that community, if there was one, that existed, it was about Chinese speakers or Spanish speakers. And so if you were unfortunate to be in that mix, then you had a lot of challenges.

You can talk with other refugees 21:12 where the reception was very favorable and they …the amount of fun that was poked at them was minimal and good people, well meaning people in the community that helped them. And I do think that the majority of refugees found that a majority of the time, it was more of a welcoming sense that they had. Or at least a neutral sense 21:41 of response that they got. But there’s a substantial portion that a reaction to them was very negative and hostile or at least a mocking sort of reception. 21:56


22:18 There was an attempt to spread refugees all over the US. And that DID happen initially. Again, mostly in the 1975-1980 range. But in the US, there’s freedom of travel. You really can’t force people to stay in the same place. And so there was massive re-migration, what some people call secondary migration. If you’re settled and even though your sponsors are there, you find out that your cousin or your relative or the leader of your community might be in a particular part of the country and you go there instead. So what happened is there was a mass relocation to CA. 23:08 in particular and in different instance, for example with the Hmong, there’s a mass migration to MN and WS because one of the leaders ended up there.

23:21 But in CA, C in particular, they settled along with west coast, the big communities in S. CA (Long ?Beach, orange County), but also, there’s some in the Bay Area (Alameda County), and there’s some C communities in Portland and a sizeable one in Seattle as well.

23:44 And what happens is once you end up in a city, if you need housing, which is one of your basic needs, you go to where you can afford it, because you’re not given a million dollars for your housing stipend. And so that what happens in many communities is where the low income housing is available is in bad neighborhoods. It’s either in 24:07 public housing or it’s in bad neighborhoods. So for example, in SF, the Tenderloin was one area where, that was one of the only neighborhoods where there was low income housing available. And before the SEA came there, it was primarily a red light district or people who were habitually drunkards and homeless, what we would call homeless today. And so that’s where they ended up.

And 24:37 As a result, when you’re in the inner-city, bad things can happen. Not always and I don’t want listeners to think that everyone who ends up in an inner city is going to end up being a criminal. In fact, the vast majority do not end up being criminals. But in fact, 24:52 in those neighborhoods, the chances increased because there’s crime around you, invariably the schools are not as good, you’re poor to begin with, there’s language problems. And so all of those ingredients contribute to a higher risk of criminality. There’s less services available in many of the areas where large numbers of people congregate.

So 25:21 there was thought given to where people should live, but people went to where they wanted to live. And they wanted to live where there were other Asians and if really possible, where there were other people of their own ethnicity.


26:30 For many many years now, 20-25 years, the US (and when I say US, policy makers and the public) are upset when they hear that there are immigrants that commit crimes. And in fact there’s allegations that immigrants bring crime here. So there’s a big sensitivity in the whole law and order mentality that …of being hard on crime. So that’s been with our society for a couple decades now. And that’s been embodied in the immigration laws so that 27:11 since 1986 there’s been additions made to the law to broaden when people can be deported for criminal convictions so different things have been added.

And in 1986, the term “aggravated felony” was actually added to the law and then again in 1990. Just to define a group of crimes that congress felt were serious. But they didn’t coincide with what was a felony by definition. So there were some 27:49 things that were misdemeanors by law that were still classified for immigration purposes as aggravated felonies because Congress can name whatever it wants to in the “aggravated felony” category.

So 28:02 what happened was you could be deported for aggravated felonies, but before 1996, if you were convicted of what might be considered an agfel (and agfel could be anything you could imagine, from murder and rape and great bodily harm to also things like smuggling someone like your nephew or niece across the border, or minor drug offences like possession of mj, or even drunk driving at one point was classified as an agfel) 28:43 and so it’s whatever Congress said it was. But prior to 1996 if you’re convicted of an agfel and you lived here for at least 7 years legally prior to 1996, you were deportable but you were not necessarily going to be deported. You had a 29:04 chance to ask a judge, an immigration judge, for a waiver, forgiveness basically, that’s what a waiver is. “Your honor, let me stay in the US. I’ve learned my lesson. I am rehabilitated now. I have a good job. I’m married. I have kids or all my parents and siblings are here and I’ve straightened out. Here’s all these people who are coming to the hearing to testify on my behalf.” That’s what could be said at a hearing prior to 1996.

29:39 And if the judge believed you, if the judge felt the person already went to jail, this person, the probation officer things the person has straightened himself out, the employer is very enthusiastic about the person, the church or some community organization has sent a representative who says the person has contributed, or an old teacher might show up to say the person has changed and is not the same person who got into crime 5-10 years ago, 30:20 so the judge could say that and believe you and give you forgiveness and grant you a waiver and give you your green card back, let you keep it.

Well in 30:30 1996, congress felt that that was too generous, that that possibility was too generous. So Congress removed that provision from the immigration laws. Congress removed that possibility and in its place said well, it’s possible still to get this. They renamed it. Instead of a waiver, they called it cancellation of deportation, but in order to qualify you need to have lived here for 10 years and incidentally, if it’s an agfel, you’re automatically barred from applying for the waiver.

So in 1996 31:07 Congress took away that possibility from any agfel. So this is something that doesn’t just apply to refugees. This means that somebody who’s lived here for 25 years with a green card or from France or from Canada, if they’ve lived here for a long time, if they commit a felony, they also are now foreclosed from applying for this waiver.


31:38 What influenced Congress in 1996 was this law and order, tough on crime mentality that we shouldn’t let somebody stay here who committed an agrfel. What’s sad about it is Congress is the one that defines agrfel so if it defines it to include something very minor, there have been cases involving two incidents of public indecent exposure! That was considered an agrfel. Not a sexual assault or anything, just urinating in public twice. That was considered an agrfel. But Congress defines and agrfel and then it takes away a relief based on if you’ve committed an agrfel. But it definitely is a reflection of simply being tough on crime. We don’t want people here who have committed 32:33 a serious crime. And we define it as being an agrfel 32:40


33:14 First of all, understand that all of the individuals we’re talking about who have been deported for agrfel, they all serve their criminal time, so let’s understand that. So it’s not I’d rather be deported than to go to San Quinton for 15 years. It’s people who have committed a crime, have gone to jail, served their time, and then if they were citizens, they’d be allowed back out on the streets. But because they’re immigrants or refugees, they get deported. 33:44

But the question is why should we not deport someone who is a criminal. Well, some people believe that they’ve already served their time, then you should treat them the same. But even if you didn’t feel that way, there should be a distinction between people who immigrated recently and committed a crime and somebody who grew up here and essentially is a product of US environment. In other words, should there be a difference for someone who came as an infant or toddler and grew up here and yes, became a criminal, but didn’t come to the US as a criminal. Didn’t come here with a criminal mind. They unfortunately developed all that here in the US. 34:30 Is there something to be said to giving that person at least, a second chance? And in my opinion, those people are the ones that deserve a second chance because they are a product of US society and as I said earlier, they’re a product of failed refugee resettlement programs, at least when it comes to refugees. And when it comes to immigrants even, I think it’s a product of our failure as a society to not deal with problems of criminality.

Yes, there’s a lot of recidivism in the US and 35:04 now we probably are getting into an area that is not your topic. But we really do have a problem in the US of dealing with how to get people on the right track. We don’t have enough programs to provide after school programs. We don’t have programs to deal with parenting. We don’t have programs to deal with the problems kids face in society.35:32 And when you talk to people who run boys clubs or programs who deal with gang prevention, everyone of them will tell you about successes and how they could have more success if they could have more programs like that. It’s scared straight programs, it’s former gang members coming in to talk. They all work, but there aren’t enough of those programs. And we would prevent recidivism if we had more of those kinds of programs 36:09


36:52 The only analogy I can think of in terms of tough on crime relating to immigration/deportation issues is really the era when we as a country decided to crack down on communism and people that were a danger to society in a way that we were afraid of. But the truth is that I actually do not believe that the tough on crime issue that is now manifest in the deportation policy, I don’t think that it’s actually linked to the same kind of ebb and flow of attitude to immigrants and even refugees that we see over the course of history.

It’s not 37:45 part of those cycles. I understand that there are cycles of course. Do we welcome immigrants or dump on immigrants or not welcome. And I definitely believe that that’s cyclical, that it’s a reflection of at least two things: the economy and then how we view race in the country. So at different points in our history, we’re ok with different races coming in. And a lot of times, we’re not ok. And then some brave leaders speak up again and the racism is quelled again for a while. It’s always right beneath the surface, but 38:24 it’s still there.

I do believe that that’s cyclical, but the crime thing, I don’t think is cyclical. I really think that the last 25 years in the US has been bad. And the immigration/criminal link is something new that’s just happened strongly in the last 10-15 years and it’s gradually gotten worse. I don’t see it turning around the same way that I might…I might predict in the next 5 years there might be an amnesty for illegal immigrants in the US. And I could probably predict that fairly confidently within the next 5-10 years in the US. 39:05 There will be some kind of amnesty and it will be part of a cycle again.

I would not make that same kind of prediction about whether or not we’re going to be a little bit softer on immigrants who have committed crimes. The most that I could see happening is that we might give folks the opportunity to apply for a second chance again. 39:30 but I don’t see Congress eliminating the agrfel provision. I don’t think overnight they’re going to reinstate this waiver possibility that was available. At most, they might reinstate it in certain circumstances. Maybe if you’ve lived here a really long time. Or maybe if you entered as a refugee as a toddler. I would hope they see, yeah, maybe we should modify it a little bit. But not a wholesale turn around in attitude.


Absolutely. If you have the 40:07 misfortune of being an immigrant or a refugee at a time of anti-immigrant sentiment in the US PLUS, you get convicted of a crime, you are…not only is that a double whammy. That’s all it takes. Once that happens, you’re the most difficult person to represent in the country from an attorney’s perspective.


Yeah, after 40:55 9/11, the country of course feared anything dangerous and anything that smelled like it might lead to terrorism. And many anti-immigrant people took advantage of that atmosphere. So there were calls for all sorts of ridiculous types of things, which I consider ridiculous anyways: no driver’s license for undocumented citizens, which became law last Jan or Feb, but also paying for bounty hunters to pick up illegal aliens. That was originally part of the Real ID Act that was part of the bill…that part got dropped.

But 41:38 Part of the sentiment was gosh, we have to get rid of anyone who’s dangerous and anyone whose committed a crime must be dangerous even though there’s a difference between a bank robber, as bad as that might be, and somebody who’s a terrorist, who’s going to throw anthrax into the water system or whatever. There’s a difference in that. But Congress didn’t see that and I think that Congress really felt, and the administration, the Bush Administration really felt we’ve got to just get rid of anyone that’s potentially dangerous and they discovered that there’s a lot of people being convicted of agrfel 42:20. And so let’s step it up, let’s step up the deportation of these dangerous criminals because that’s in the national security. So they expanded the definition of national security beyond terrorism to include any non-citizen who’s committing crime (in terms of priorities).

And that was symbolic, more than symbolic, that when the DoHS was established, that it subsumed the INS. And so that means that immigration issues are viewed through the lens of national security. Even though we’re talking about much more than terrorism when we’re talking about immigrants who might be undesirable. So what happened is that the State Department and the DoJ looked to see who were committing 43:14 crimes and it turns out that as unfortunate as it may be, there are many SEA who have committed crimes. And it has a lot to do with the gang problems in those communities. We can’t hide it as Asian Americans. There are gang problems in VN and the Hmong and the C communities, just as there have been and continue to be problems in the Chinese community, for example.

43:47 But those convictions were of people that we were not deporting because the US had a policy of not deporting people to communist dominated countries, in particular those countries that we didn’t have a good relationship with. The most notable one is Cuba. And so we’ve never deported an agrfel to Cuba even though there are Cubans in the US who have committed agrfel because we don’t have relations with Fidel Castro.

But we have been trying to develop relationship with VN, C, and L. 44:26 And most people’s opinions, C, of those 3 governments is viewed as the weakest political clout in the region. And so the State Dept. put pressure on C govt in the early 2000 to begin accepting some of C’s nationals back to C if it wanted the US help, financially, it wanted to continue to get visas, regular visas to the US. So the C govt caved and agreed to start accepting a handful of repatriates, returnees, each month, if they were convicted of agrfel.

There was a difference of 45:25 opinion in the C govt. I’ve spoken with representatives of the C govt. who have told me that they thought it was a bad idea and that they tried to convince the ultimate govt. officials to not agree to that. But they were overruled. And so to date, the US has deported, I know it’s over 125 C and every month or so, there are rumors that there’s going to be another group that will be collected and deported. The estimate is that 46:05 there’s over 1,500 that have committed agrfel in the US and there’s also rumors that the US is trying to put pressure on VN and Laos.


47:04 One way of looking at this is C is doing the exact same thing as Canada or the Filipines or Spain. They take their nationals back who have been convicted of agrfel. That’s one way of looking at it. But I choose to look at it a little bit differently because these are refugees we’re talking about rather than voluntary immigrants to the US. And I think that the US has an extra obligation to refugees, especially when 47:37 we helped to contribute to the creation of the refugee status and the refugee problem in C.

so you’re right in that there’s no particular implication to C being any different to any other country, to C the country itself. And in fact, a lot of countries do crazy things because they want US aid in 48:04 all different kinds of ways (either military protection or money for development and those types of things) but internationally, I think that it shows that C is very weak because it chose to give in when no other country in SEA or Cuba has been pressured to do that and was willing to give in and it shows that the US is picking on weak countries.

But 48:36 the US always picks on weak countries. This really is a reflection of US empire that the US still controls and seeks to control how different governments operate and this is very much an example of US empire at work.


49:28 The main uniqueness is that it involves refugees and the US bears culpability for the creation of C refugees. But the truth is that beyond that, that this type of deportation of agrfel, when it involves a long-term permanent resident, somebody who’s lived here for a long time, I think it’s an injustice across the board for individuals from Canada, the Filipines, anyone who has lived here legally 50:05 with a green card or as a refugee, who is very much a product of US society, I think that they should be given a second chance or at least an opportunity to apply for a second chance. See, right now, they don’t even have the opportunity to apply for a second chance.

At the hearing, the issue is, “were you convicted of a crime,” and if you were, 50:30 deported. It’s not were you convicted of a crime, and if you were, tell me your life story now because I want to see if you deserve a second chance. That’s not what’s happening. That’s what should happen irrespective of what country is involved. So that I feel the same way for somebody from Mexico or the F who grew up here from the time they were an infant or a toddler. I think they should get a second chance. But I think there IS a slight, qualitative difference when it’s somebody who on top of 51:01 being here a long time, they entered because the US created a situation where they had to flee their country and that’s the refugee situation.

And incidentally, we’ve also deported people to Somalia recently as well. And Somalia is in a state of..;.there’s no government and we’ve deported some Somalian refugees who committed agrfel and it’s not as many as C, but they shouldn’t be deported either.


52:00 There’s a lot of organizing going on across the country in the CA communities as a result of the deportations that have occurred. Some C are happy that some of the criminal in their community have been deported. It’s almost a good riddance attitude, but I really think that’s a minority of the C in the community.

The ones I have talk to, certainly the ones that have been affected, their families, 52:32 and those who know of families that have been affected, they’re resentful, they’re upset because they felt the US owed them more than this. And they do feel that the US owes them because they were used, the were pawns. 52:46 in the war in the 1970s and so they’re very upset so one of the responses has been protests, it has been call for legislation. This is not a good time for 53:02 legislation, pro-immigrant immigration because of September 11th. That kind of call is still happening. But also there have been some calls for naturalization and citizenship so that once you become a citizen, you cannot be deported. And parents who become citizens, any of their children under the age of 18 automatically become citizens as well. So that’s one way to defeat the deportation.

53:32 But in my opinion, what else is needed, in my opinion what else is needed is people and the country, the communities, realizing that there needs to be discussions and programs set up to avoid this problem of crime in the community. And that means resources. They need 53:55 resources. They need education. They need community based organizations that focus on these issues. Because that adjustment issue is something we’re ignoring if we just go to the issue and say, “Let’s just get citizenship,” or let’s just get relief available. We should also be working on what’s causing the problem.


Certainly in the pro-immigrant community there are definitely discussions between a pan-Asian groups and also with Latino groups and also Central American organizations in the US. There’s been great support and public education about this problem. And all of them agree, in the immigrants rights community, there’s wide spread agreement that something has to be done about the 1996 law that removed the discrsionary remedy for agrfel.


55:44 I’ve heard allegations and rumors that the C government holds deportees when they arrive and don’t release people unless there’s some kind of payment or bond, they have fancy descriptions to make it seem not like a ransom. That it’s assurances that the people will get a job. And there’s been negotiation over that. The US did stop deportation for a while 56:24 but nobody knows why. Some people thought it’s because of what Andrew believed, that the US realized there was something unscrupulous by the C govt happening. But other people think that it was just the US reacting to some of the pressure that the community was putting on it. Because some of the people who are being deported, it’s incredible stories 56:53 of people who never even lived in C. they were born in refugee camps and came here. And so the US has been a little bit embarrassed by that. But I do think the US understands this is not fair. Some people in the administration believe this is not fair.57:20 And so some of us are hoping that that’s why there is a delay. There’s discussions going on.

But be that as it may, there are programs, this RAP program that exists to try to help people who have entered to adjust and get job skills and get language training. Because a lot of the people who return don’t know how to speak Kamai, or they speak it very poorly. 57:50. Many of them don’t have any job skills because they were doing crimes in the US. So there is adjustment that is needed and in that sense, there’s a lot of challenge.

And some of the deportees have had emotional breakdowns. There’s mental disease, psychological problems of adjustment 58:22 that they’re having. Many of them have been using drugs and wasting what little money they do earn.

So they’re not going back there and being set up in fancy houses. That’s for sure.


58:50 This has been devastating for the families of the people who have been removed. Many are listless. They feel like they’ve been persecuted again. They’re under a lot of stress. Some of them, the parents don’t have other people in the country, so they’re having to rely on friends and neighbors who have stepped up to help. Some of them have spouses and young children who don’t know where their father is now. Or they don’t’ understand. And so there have been some of those situations where they have gone back to visit, but it’s been very devastating for the spouses and the children.

59:34 And the problem that I see it from an academic problem is that if this continues, this is a young group o men in the C community. And this is the problem with respect to crime in general in the SEA communities. It’s affecting a social economic group of young men and demographically that can have a big impact on those communities. Similar to the AfAm community 60:08, that has a lot of young men in jail. I think that if something is not done to address the crime and the deportation problem in those communities, that we’re going to see communities that are missing a big demographic group.


That’s going to have a tremendous amount of effect socially and economically on those communities. I think that will contribute to a perpetuation of more public assistance and lack of the ability for those families to do better and to uplift themselves.

Because one thing that the early 60:53 VN did in the country is that they used public assistance as transition. They were able to use it but then the next generation in the ’80s and early ‘90s, they didn’t use much public assistance. And so they were actually using public assistance for what it was for, which was to help them transition. Now, 61:15 if this demographic trend continues in terms of the crime and the deportation, it will extend the use of public assistance in those communities. That means lack of job training, inability to extract yourself from poverty. It means a lot of impact on the kids of these families. And so it’s not a good situation.

:34 Different people commit crimes for different reasons, obviously. But there are certain patterns that one sees when you look at gang issues in particular. One of them is self defense. That when they’re in school or in their neighborhood, they get beat up and then they go back and they get beat up again. And then they find people that have been beat up and they join forces. And that is one way that some of the SEA gangs were established was for protection.

1:07 For other people, it’s combined with or even a separate reason is that they need family. That they feel that their parents don’t understand what their life is and their parents aren’t able to provide a sense of belonging. And so as crazy as it may sound, some people are parts of gangs for camaraderie. For a feeling and a sense of belonging.

1:42 Other people do it for fun! There are some people like Andrew, where it wasn’t a matter of poverty, but it was a matter of they didn’t have anything else to do and they wanted to do something interesting. And they found out that they could do something well. And that something well might be stealing cars or cheating somebody or robbing and it was a thrill to them in some ways. These are not people who are unintelligent. Many of them are pretty smart and they didn’t have anything better to do. And they found a reward and a thrill from doing that and it’s crazy. We might think that they’re punks but it’s the kind of thing that needs to be addressed.

2:47 And a lot of this does have to do with poverty and the fact that people came in as refugees, aside from the PTS that their parents might have gone through. Poverty increases the chances of crime because it means that you’re in certain neighborhoods, it means that you’re in schools that aren’t the best schools. And again, not everyone becomes a criminal and most of them don’t, but it increases the likelihood.

So that if you don’t do well in school in part because you’re poor or you don’t have the resources, you get discouraged from school. And so 3:24 many people react in their discouragement by looking for other things to do and they find that someone talks them into doing something that’s not legal. And they end up doing that over and over again because they don’t find any sense of belonging in school for either being beat up or because they don’t do well.