Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus
Started 2 petitions
Demand Gov. Newsom to #StopICEtransfers and Support Firefighter & Refugee Kao Saelee
Right before this year’s devastating wildfires in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom and California’s prison system (CDCR), handed Kao Saelee, a formerly incarcerated firefighter and Mien refugee to ICE. Instead of reuniting with his family and fighting the wildfires that have devastated California, Saelee is now detained by ICE, thousands of miles away from his loved ones in Louisiana’s Pine Prairie ICE detention facility where there are at least 65 COVID-19 positive cases. Sign the petition: Urge Governor Newsom to #StopICEtransfers from CDCR, and for the Governor to tell ICE to release Kao Saelee now! During this COVID-19 pandemic, California prisons and local jails are not only sites of COVID-19 outbreaks, but continue to act as the main pipeline filling immigration detention centers by turning community members like Saelee who are eligible to be released over to Trump’s deportation machine. Gov. Newsom must act now and halt ICE transfers from state prisons and jails as a concrete way to stop the spread of COVID-19, save lives, and protect public health. Saelee’s story is not uncommon among Southeast Asian refugees. Saelee is ethnically Mien. The Mien people, an oppressed minority in Laos, bravely fought alongside the United States during the Vietnam War and rescued downed American pilots. After the United States withdrew, the Lao government engaged in a campaign of retribution to wipe out the Mien people. Saelee and his family were forced to flee to a refugee camp in Thailand. Eventually, they were resettled in an impoverished and violent neighborhood in Fresno, California. At 18, Saelee found himself homeless, struggling to survive, and made the poor choice to take part in a robbery and fire a warning shot in the air. While in prison, Saelee matured and grew up. Over the past several years, wildfires have devastated California burning millions of acres, destroying homes, and costing far too many lives. Incarcerated firefighters have served on the frontlines protecting communities and lives each wildfire season. Saelee courageously served on the frontlines cutting brush surrounded by smoke and flames during some of the worst wildfires in California history. This summer, Saelee completed his sentence and looked forward to reuniting with his family after 22 years of separation from his loved ones. Saelee youngest sister drove to Pleasant Valley State Prison to pick him up. However, instead of being released, and despite his record of working as an incarcerated firefighter, Gov. Newsom allowed CDCR to transfer Saelee to ICE. Saelee now faces deportation to a country his family fled when he was two years old. Saelee’s incarceration has already had devastating impacts on his family, and they are eager to welcome him home and make up for lost time. Gov. Newsom and CDCR have no legal obligation to work with ICE, and must cut ties with Trump’s deportation machine. Sign the petition today! Urge Governor Newsom to #StopICEtransfers from CDCR, and for the Governor to tell ICE to release Kao Saelee now!
Ending Threat of Deportation: Urge Governor Newsom to Pardon Saman Pho!
Tell Governor Newsom to pardon Cambodian genocide survivor, Saman Pho, so that Saman can remain with his wife and four young children in Oakland, California. The Governor’s pardon could prevent Saman’s order of deportation. Saman is a beloved father and Cambodian refugee facing deportation due to a conviction from over two decades ago. Before arriving to the U.S. at the age of six, Saman spent three years with his family in concentration camps under the Khmer Rouge. Saman and his family experienced many atrocities, including the loss of his brother who starved to death. Following their captivity, they stayed at several refugee camps before coming to the United States in 1982. Saman’s family settled in an impoverished neighborhood in Oakland during a time when many cities experienced tough-on-crime laws. Saman’s parents worked multiple jobs, and spent long hours away from home. Saman did his best to focus on school despite an unstable environment and leaned on friends in the neighborhood for support. In 1995, while at a party with the “wrong” crowd, a group of young men attacked Saman and his friend. While under the influence of alcohol, he fired a weapon towards his attackers. Saman was arrested and immediately accepted responsibility for his actions and charged with attempted murder. With full remorse, he accepted a 12 year prison sentence. Though no lives were lost, Saman was ashamed of his actions, and worked to change his life. While in prison, Saman completed his GED, received a painting certificate, attended other educational trainings, and was a member of the Men’s Advisory Committee. After serving 11 years in prison Saman was immediately arrested by immigration officers on prison grounds and spent 4 months in ICE detention fighting deportation. Inexperienced, vulnerable, and without legal representation, Saman signed an immigration document attesting to his removal from the United States. He was released under conditional status. Upon his release, Saman worked multiple jobs, eventually receiving honors through the Cypress Mandela apprenticeship program, which gives job opportunities to disadvantaged men. In 2014, he was offered a position with McGuire and Hester Construction where he continues to work as a respected employee. Shortly after, the Northern California Cement Masons Apprenticeship Program accepted Saman, and he became a member of the OPCMIA International Organization of Local 300. Today, Saman has built a life with his wife, Maribel, and four children, Zuheili (14), Tonalli (9), Emanuel (8), and Apsara (1). Saman is not fluent in Khmer, and has no ties to family in Cambodia. If Saman were removed from this country, Saman and his family would face immense emotional pain, financial instability, and other severe consequences from being forcibly separated. Join Saman’s family and advocates to urge Governor Gavin Newsom to pardon Saman so that he can find relief from deportation and remain with his family and community.