Bristol, MA – As the sun set Wednesday night a crowd of 50 people demonstrated
outside of the Bristol County House of Corrections and Immigrations and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) facility as part of the National Week of Action to End
Southeast Asian Deportations. Demonstrators held up “Shut Down ICE” banners,
read stories of those impacted by ICE, and denounced the deportations impacting Southeast Asian
communities, and other communities who have been targeted by ICE under the
Since 1998, more than 16,000 Southeast Asian American community
members from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam have been issued orders of deportation,
almost 2,000 people have been deported and more than 14,000 are living in the
country in a state of limbo, uncertain of when ICE will once again try to
detain them. In
2018, the Trump Administration imposed sanctions on Laos and began detaining
Vietnamese refugees. ICE is scheduled to detain and deport over 100 Cambodians
in the coming weeks.
“We are refugees. We are strong and resilient, we fled from a
U.S.-backed war only to be resettled in an America of racial inequity, failing
schools, and mass incarceration. We are survivors of a war we didn’t choose – a
war that the U.S. fought on our parents’ soil with boots and bombs. We are here because
you were there.” - Sarath Suong, Southeast Asian Freedom Network.
The national week of action was organized to coincided
with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. During the demonstration organizers
called attention to Dr. King’s “three evils” - racism, militarism and poverty.
“The deportations of Southeast Asians is the ultimate failure of the Refugee
Resettlement Program in the 1980s. Our survival in this country and now the
deportation of a generation of our community members, all of this exists at the
intersections of Dr. King’s three evils.” - Linda Heng, Providence Youth
The demonstration is the latest in a series of protests at the
Bristol House of Corrections facility. Over the Summer inmates at the facility
launched a hunger strike calling for better living conditions. In August
members of the FANG Collective blockaded all entrances of the facility, calling
on Bristol County to end their 287g agreement with ICE, which allows
Sheriff's to perform the duties of immigration officers. Four people were
arrested as part of the action.
“The current policy of deportation is like a machine that
snatches up and disappears community members who have lived and worked in the
US for decades, creating families and growing deep roots here. This policy and
practice of deportation show a cruel disdain for people’s lives, families,
jobs, and health”. - Catarina Lorenzo, Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance.