Guest Post by Vichet Chhuon
Sameth Nhean and his family.
Eight Cambodian Americans from Minnesota are currently being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These men were detained last August as part of nation-wide raid by ICE. The families of these detained individuals have dubbed themselves the "MN 8" and are demanding the immediate release of their loved ones back to their families.
The MN 8 are seemingly caught up in an immigration system that since 1996 strictly limits the abilities of immigration judges to consider issues of family ties, atonement, and rehabilitation. The deportation of Cambodian Americans began swiftly following a 2002 repatriation agreement between the US and Cambodian governments. Each of the detained individuals have a past aggravated felony conviction, which triggered their deportation orders. An aggravated felony is wide ranging category of which the conviction could trigger at least a 1-year sentence. Each of these men have served their sentences and were leading otherwise regular lives with spouses, children and work when they were detained.