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Published December 16, 2017. Retrieved March 31, 2022.

STOCKTON — While the topic of immigration and deportations has almost squarely focused on the Latino community, families like that of Cathee Khamvongsa’s are dealing with the fallout of seeing loved ones detained with little acknowledgment.

More than 200 Cambodian and Vietnamese immigrants living in the U.S. were detained by immigration agents in October; a crackdown that advocates say was the largest raid to ever affect the Southeast Asian community.

Khamvongsa’s husband of 17 years was among the people caught up in the raid.

Mony Neth was on his way to work when he was picked up by Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents on Oct. 20. Since then, he’s been moved around immigration detention centers in California and the Southern states, making it difficult for his family to communicate with him.

“It’s been hard for the family,” said Khamvongsa, who lives in Modesto. “He’s the sole provider and caretaker for his elderly parents.”

On Saturday, Khamvongsa was joined by more than a dozen family members, as well as many community advocates and activists who rallied in Stockton to “raise the voice” of the Asian community.

Nikki Chan with Empowering Marginalized Asian Communities (EMAC), a Stockton-based group, said Asians get forgotten often in this issue. Yet, the Trump administration is targeting this community, she added.

Many of these people being deported came to the U.S. as refugees from war-torn countries and are suffering from trauma, Chan said. Some Cambodians being removed from the country weren’t even born in Cambodia, but in refugee camps all over Asia.

EMAC, along with several other organizations from Stockton, the Bay Area and Sacramento, planned the rally to garner support for the Asian community, but also to educate people and encourage partnerships between all the immigrant advocate groups.

“We are here to say we are here to stand for our communities,” said Nkauj Iab Yang, director of California policy and programs for the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center. “We are here today to say we will not be moved. We are here to stay.”

Yang, a daughter of Hmong refugees, said the largest population of refugees was resettled in California, and as so, the state has a responsibility to the community to respond and fight back against the deportations, and demand that elected officials take a stand and pass fair immigration policies that keep families together.

“Our families have suffered for too many generations,” she said. “Enough is enough.”

Many of the people targeted for deportation are individuals with criminal records. According to ICE, of the 1,900 Cambodian nationals who are under an order for removal, 1,412 have criminal convictions.

In 1995, Neth was convicted on a felony weapons charge with a gang enhancement, and a misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property.

In an online petition to speed up a pardon review for Neth, the organizer writes, “He applied for a pardon for a long ago paid debt to society for a crime committed when he was a teenager and now faces being forever separated from his family. Since he has paid his debt, Mony has been a more than model American, constantly bettering himself. He is a testament to what a person can do in this country if you work hard and focus on the positive.”

According to the Sacramento Bee, Court records also show Neth’s case was reopened on Dec. 8 and a Proposition 47 report entered into the court record, which could be a possible sign his case is being re-examined.

For now, a temporary restraining order from a federal judge in Santa Ana to prevent the deportations of Cambodian immigrants has bought Neth more time to fight his case.

Still, this past week, Khamvongsa delivered luggage to her husband in preparation for his return to a country he doesn’t know. Neth’s been in the U.S. since he was 10 years old.

“Our daughter wasn’t able to say ’bye to him (that day),” Khamvongsa said. “I didn’t get to hug him. We just talked through a glass window.” Khamvongsa said her family is not the same without him, but she prays daily for a solution. “I try to comfort (his parents) and tell them there’s hope,” she said. “But I know that if he’s gone, they may not survive this.”

Contact reporter Almendra Carpizo at (209) 546-8264 or Follow her on twitter @AlmendraCarpizo.

March against Asian deportations TOP: Nikki Chan, right, leads dozens of marchers at Martin Luther King Plaza in a protest against the detaining of m ore than 200 Cambodian and Vietnamese immigrants living in the U.S. by immigration agents in October; a crackdown that advocates say was the largest raid to ever affect the Southeast Asian community. BOTTOM LEFT: Southeast Asian anti-deportation marchers pass the Martin Luther King monument in downtown Stockton.  BOTTOM RIGHT: Cathee Khamvongs, who’s husband was one of more than 200 Cambodian and Vietnamese immigrants living in the U.S. detained by immigration agents in October, attends the Southeast Asian Anti-Deportation Rally and march in Downtown Stockton.[CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD]

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