SACRAMENTO, CA – Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release Cambodian immigrants and end aggressive raids in Southern California.
“The Trump Administration is using Cambodian immigrants as pawns in its deportation machine,” said Senator Lara, who represents the nation’s largest Cambodian community in Long Beach. “The intent of these raids is to spread fear and division through immigrant neighborhoods – the opposite of public safety. As California leaders we have worked hard to bring immigrants out of the shadows to cooperate with local law enforcement and prevent crime, and the raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement turn back the clock on these efforts.”
The Trump Administration detained nearly 100 Cambodian immigrants nationwide and withheld visas from high-ranking Cambodians as part of a pressure campaign to increase deportations.
Civil rights advocates with Asian Americans Advancing Justice filed a nationwide class action lawsuit against the federal government on November 1 over the unlawful arrests.
Senator Lara authored Senate Bill 29, the Dignity not Detention law, to stop the expansion of for-profit immigrant jails. With the signing of Senate Bill 29 and Assembly Bill 103, California has put an indefinite moratorium on increasing detention.
More than 140,000 Cambodian Americans fled the genocide and civil unrest that followed the Khmer Rouge takeover in 1975. Today California is home to more than one-third of Cambodian Americans, according to U.S. Census data.
“Bullying our Cambodian American neighbors with deportation threats is a betrayal of our history in welcoming immigrants from Southeast Asia whose resilience and energy makes our community stronger,” said Senator Lara, who earlier this year authored SCR 36 to establish Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Week in April.