December 10, 2013
Deportation: A Human Rights Issue
By: Mari Quenemoen

Deporting Americans: A Community United Against Deportations

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a piece entitled “Caught in the Deportation Machine …” about how deportation affects elders – both those who are detained and deported, and those who suffer trauma from losing children or grandchildren. This photo montage, “Deporting Americans,” was created in Philadelphia by 1Love Movement when the tight Cambodian American community in that city was hit by a deportation crisis. Dozens of Cambodian folks with green cards, including Chally Dang and Mout Iv, were suddenly rounded up because of old convictions. Many had been rebuilding their lives for years after making the mistakes that had originally made them deportable. Many left behind U.S. citizen children, parents, and grandparents. Entire neighborhoods were devastated.

The video makes it clear that deportation is a human rights issue that not only touches individual families, but also reverberates throughout entire communities and across racial and ethnic lines. It also highlights the multi-generational nature of the issue. The photos in the sequence include a grandchild losing his grandfather, an older mother losing her adult son, a grandfather losing his grandson, and an entire community protesting the potential loss of neighbors and friends. On this Human Rights Day, let’s imagine a world in which we invest in the strength of our families and communities and abandon overly punitive immigration laws that create trauma and instability across generations.

Mari Quenemoen is a Policy Manager at the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). Visit SEARAC’s deportation web page for a wide range of resources and videos on deportation and Southeast Asian Americans. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.