The Trump administration can no longer carry out plans to deport 92 Cambodian refugees without providing them the opportunity to defend themselves in court, United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled on Thursday (January 3), per Courthouse News Service.
BuzzFeed News spoke to Jenny Zhao, staff attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, who said, “For years, ICE has been tearing Cambodian refugees from their families without any warning, giving them no chance to talk to a lawyer or even say goodbye to their loved ones.” Zhao continued, “The judge has put a stop to that practice for now. It’s inhumane and illegal.”
Many of the Cambodian nationals arrested in ICE raids in October 2017 fled the Khmer Rouge when they were children and have never returned to their home country. The targeted Cambodians were reportedly “convicted of various criminal charges, and ordered deported years ago,” per Reuters.
Cambodia, however, refused to repatriate the legal U.S. residents, so they were released and many continued to live and work here until the Trump administration started “issuing visa sanctions against the [Cambodian] government, and began detaining Cambodian immigrants last year.”
Judge Cormac’s ruling states that the “92 Cambodians who are still in custody could raise serious questions about the validity of their deportation orders.” Instead of conducting unannounced raids, the government is now required to provide “a 14-day written notice before detaining a Cambodian national with a deportation order.”
According to BuzzFeed News, the refugees filed a class action lawsuit against the government in October 2017, saying that “although many of those being detained received deportation orders after being convicted of a crime, many have reported diligently to immigration officials, have not committed additional crimes, and have been detained and deported without notice or a chance to challenge their case.”
Late last year, the class filed for a protection order after receiving a notice to meet with Cambodian officials, an action that typically precedes a raid. Yesterday, Judge Carney granted their request. “Given the government’s failure to provide the court adequate assurances that petitioners will be afforded sufficient pre-detention notice before the court issues its ruling, the court finds that a temporary restraining order is necessary,” he wrote.
ICE officials have so far not provided a comment in this matter. A spokesperson emailed BuzzFeed saying they were “prohibited from responding to media requests during the government shutdown.”