According to a report on Asians in America released by Pew Research Center this April, about 14% of unauthorized immigrants in the United States in 2017 were of Asian descent. The number highlights the fact that Asians in America are not a monolith—we are a diverse group coming from diverse backgrounds with diverse needs.
In recent years, as anti-immigrant sentiment has increased, Asian communities have experienced the effects firsthand. For example, in Northern California, in the past few years alone, deportations of Cambodian Americans have gone up 279%.
Immigrants rights groups like Asian American Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus and NorCal Resist, along with lawmakers, have fought to stop the deportations of hundreds in the Southeast Asian refugee community. Many Asian immigrants have found themselves in ICE custody and deportation proceedings through transfers from their local prison after completing their sentence. This included Phi Pham, a Vietnamese refugee and formerly incarcerated firefighter, who was featured on the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle.
In response, the VISION Act was created to stop ICE transfers. Co-sponsored by 50 organizations, including the Asian Law Caucus, the VISION Act was priority legislation for the API, Latinx, and Black Legislative Caucuses. The VISION Act has currently been put on hold, but advocates continue to fight against such transfers.
If you or someone you know is an unauthorized immigrant living in the United States, you can find more information on your rights and how to speak with ICE in the Immigrant Defense Project links below. All people in the United States, regardless of immigration status, have certain rights and protections under the U.S. Constitution. And to report ICE activity, you can call the Sacramento FUEL Network’s Rapid Response Hotline at 916-245-6773.
About Kishwer Vikaas
Kishwer is a Staff Attorney at University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law’s Immigration Clinic. She has been an attorney in the Immigration Clinic since July 2017.