Five years ago, Sok faced an impossible decision all too familiar to Cambodian families in the United States – spend a year locked up in ICE detention before being deported or just give up and and sign his deportation order. Sok’s family fled Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge genocide. Sok was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, came to the United States as a refugee when he was an infant, and grew up in California.
In 2015, however, the Department of Homeland Security placed Sok in deportation proceedings because of an old drug conviction from years before – a situation that Sok had seen too many other Cambodian Americans go through.
Facing spending months or even years locked up in ICE detention unable to see his children or get deported in order to support them, Sok made the hardest decision of his life. A single father, he decided to give up fighting deportation, left his three children with his mother, and went to Cambodia, a country that he had never lived in. Sok figured that being in Cambodia was better than jail because at least he could talk to his children when he wanted and hopefully find a way to send them money.
Sok struggled with adjusting to life in rural Cambodia and finding stability. Relationships with his family were strained by thousands of miles and 15 time zones. He missed home and his family constantly but had little hope of ever coming home to California.
Five years passed since Sok Loeun hugged his children or saw his mother. In November 2019, other deportees in Cambodia told Sok about lawyers and organizers from the United States holding a workshop on bringing people home in Phnom Penh at a restraurant owned by Zar, a deportee and community leader. Even though he didn’t think anything would come of it, he traveled five hours to Phnom Penh to attend.
That night, Sok learned for the first time that he had automatically become a US citizen at the age of 12 through his mother and never should have been deported.
We believe in Sok’s #Right2Reunite with his family in the United States.
We are raising funds for Sok’s return to the United States. All proceeds will go towards Sok’s plane ticket, travel, and transition back to the United States.
- Catherine Pereda
- Crystal Van
- Eva Poon
- Eva Poon
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