BOSTON (SHNS) – Sixty-seven members of the state Legislature are calling out an increase in deportations of Southeast Asian refugees and asking President Joe Biden and Congress to end what they describe as a “policy of racially biased forced deportations.”
Fifteen senators and 44 other representatives joined the eight members of the House Asian Caucus in signing onto a statement “seeking to condemn the disproportionate rise in deportations of Southeast Asian refugees” and expressing solidarity with the Southeast Asian community in Massachusetts.
“Many of the people facing deportation are refugees and survivors from the Vietnam War, Khmer Rouge Genocide, and the mass carpet bombing in Laos. Upon resettlement to the United States through the Refugee Resettlement Program, they became legal permanent residents,” the statement reads. “In the process of resettlement, Southeast Asian refugees faced many struggles, including mental health issues, poverty, language barriers, poor school environments and over-policing. Due to the lack of structural support as many Southeast Asian refugees resettled in this country, many found themselves interfacing with the criminal legal system because of criminal convictions, which led to the loss of their legal permanent status.”
The lawmakers pointed to a 2018 reinterpretation of a Vietnam repatriation agreement, and diplomatic pressure last year for Laos to accept more Laotian, Hmong, Mien, Khmu and other ethnic groups for deportation. Rep. Donald Wong, a Saugus Republican and chair of the House Asian Caucus, said it’s “time for our federal government to reexamine the broken wheel we call our immigration system.” “Since our arrival to the United States from our war-torn countries, we sought shelter, sent our children to public schools and contributed to the vibrancy of our communities,” said Lowell Democrat Rep. Vanna Howard. “The deportation of some in our Southeast Asian community is no solution to solving our flawed immigration and criminal justice systems.”