Know What To Do

Resource Guide for Southeast Asian Americans Facing Deportation

SEARAC, 2015. A resource guide developed to assist noncitizens from Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, and Vietnamese communities who have criminal convictions and currently face deportation, or who have pending criminal charges and may face deportation in the future. Contains FAQs, in addition to a directory of attorneys, pro bono law clinics, and organizations with specialized knowledge of SEAA deportation issues.

Deportation 101: A Community Resource on Anti-Deportation Education and Organizing

Families for Freedom, 2010. Deportation 101 is an intensive, one to two-day training, accompanied by comprehensive written materials, that offers basics on the detention and deportation system and provides guidance on how to organize communities directly impacted by deportation. Created by community organizers, legal experts, and advocates, this curriculum teaches immigrant families, loved ones, and communities how to understand and develop individual and community responses to this system – inside and outside the courts.

Every Door Closed: Barriers Facing Parents With Criminal Records

Community Legal Services, Inc., and the Center for Law and Social Policy, 2002. The report contains an introduction with background information on parents with criminal records, and chapters on employment, public benefits, housing, child welfare, student loans, and immigration.

Financial Handbook For Families Facing Detention & Deportation 

by Families for Freedom, 2008. This Handbook is a testimony to the injustice of the current immigration laws. This Handbook demonstrates the financial costs to immigrants and the financial gains to the U.S. of the current immigration system. This Handbook underscores why it is all-the-more important for folks to continue fighting their individual immigration cases and fighting for greater, overall reform.

Protecting Assets & Child Custody In The Face Of Deportation: A Guide for Practitioners Assisting Immigrant Families

Appleseed. This manual focuses on the financial and parental rights of individuals in the face of deportation. The manual does not address an individual’s legal rights during the deportation process, and we recommend you consult with an immigration legal service group for information related to legal rights during the deportation process.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS with Police & Immigration Agents ACLU


Over the last 5 years, we have seen an increase in the number of Cambodian-Americans detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for interviews with the Interior Ministry of Cambodia to issue travel documents for possible deportation.
Most individuals being detained are Cambodian-Americans and those of Khmer ancestry born in refugee camps in other countries (e.g., Thailand, Philippines) who were:
  • Previously released from detention on an order of supervision
  • Transferred directly from jails/prisons to ICE custody, and who stayed in custody after being ordered removed by an immigration judge
In the past, many Cambodian-Americans did not fight their deportation cases because Cambodia refused to accept them for removal. However, since the US and Cambodia signed a Repatriation Agreement in 2002, deportation have been on the rise. And we have felt the rise in our communities over the last 5 years in particular.
With this in mind, 1Love Movement remembers the many things that our families and our loved ones did not know before they were detained and/or deported during the attack on our Philly community in 2010.
Below is a list of steps individuals and families can take to prepare themselves in the event of a loved one being detained and deported:
  • Be sure that family or people close to you know your A#. This is your greencard # and is the 9-digit number on all correspondence from Department of Homeland Security. Your loved ones will need this number to locate you if you have been detained by ICE, and they will need it to be given information about you once you are in ICE custody.
  • Be sure your family or people close to you know that if you have been detained, the first step is to locate you. If you have an Alien Registration (A#), they can use it to find out where you are being held: Online Detainee Locator System
  • Be sure that copies of your entire criminal case file, your immigration documents, and your deportation case file, are kept in a safe place with a family member or person you trust. This will be helpful for community, advocates or attorneys should you decide you want legal assistance once you have been detained. Scan and email a copy to yourself as well. Even if there are no avenues of relief for you under current law and policy, there could always be changes to legislation in the future that could provide you with relief to return once you have been deported. You will want to have access to these documents at such a time.
  • Be sure that you have signed a notarized Power of Attorney to allow someone you trust to handle important matters for you in the case that you are detained and deported. This includes giving someone the power to make important decisions regarding the welfare and guardianship of your children, closing your bank accounts or transferring money, paying your bills, dealing with your lease or mortgage or business, selling you care and other assets in your name, etc.
  • Scan your high school diploma/GRE certificate, vocational training certificates, or college degrees, and email yourself a copy. Access to these documents might help you find a job in Cambodia should you be deported.
  • It is not too late to speak to an immigration attorney to ensure that there are no further feasible avenues of relief in your deportation case. If you have never spoken with an attorney about your immigration case, it might be important to do so as soon as possible to see if you might qualify to reopen your case or pursue some form of immigration relief that you have not pursued before. Relief for deportation on criminal grounds is rare, but not unheard of.
  • If you have a check-in with ICE, DO NOT bring your only form of ID (ex. drivers license, school IS, state ID card). If you are detained, it will be confiscated. Ensure that you have multiple forms of photo ID, and that family or someone you trust keep at least one form of photo ID for you in a safe place at all times. In the case that you are detained and deported, that photo ID can be sent to you, by your family, once you are deported from the United States. This will help your transition in Cambodia with at least one form of identification.
  • If you have a check-in with ICE, be sure you write down important phone numbers and brings them with you, especially for family member in Cambodia who may be able to sponsor your release out of immigration compound in Phnom Penh and give you a place to get on your feet.
  • If you are taken into ICE custody, be sure your family finds out who your Deportation Officer (DO) is so they can more easily access information about the status of your detention and deportation. People from Philadelphia are usually detained at York County Prison (3400 Concord Road, York, PA 17402), your family can call the ICE office on site, 717-840-7253, to find out who your DO is if you are detained there.
  • Prior to an ICE check-in, be aware that if you are detained, they could move you quickly for deportation. Your family should know that ICE allows up to 40-lbs of luggage to be dropped off at the local ICE Field Office for you if they are made aware of your flight. If this is the situation you are in, your relative can request approval for luggage drop-off from your DO, and do so at least 49-hours before your flight. For Philly: They can contact the Philadelphia Field Office 215-656-7164
  • Once in ICE custody, you will most likely be detained for a very long time, be prepared for that. ICE has the discretion to release you after 90 days of custody, but does not have to let you go. You should ask for a Post-Order Custody Review (POCR – “poker”) at 90-days and present evidence that you are a person of good moral character who is not a flight risk and has a stable home and family life in the US. You should also request one at 180 days. Give your DO copies, but not originals, of documents such as letter from employers, your GRE/vocational training certificates, letters from family members, etc. Prior to 180-days, you should file a petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, either on your own or through the assistance of an attorney.
Don’t think it won’t happen to you. Be prepared. If you are a Cambodian-American living in the US on supervised release, check these out.
Advice to Deportees: Created by organizer Kohei of the Providence Youth Student Movement.
Cambodian Returnee’s Orientation: Hosted by Thea Som and created by Studio Revolt.
Contact the Returnee Integration Support Center (RISC) in Phnom Penh to find out what you can do to prepare yourself and your family in the event of deportation.