1. Borey (“Peejay”) Ai was tried as an adult and given a life sentence for a crime he committed when he was only 14 years old, making him one of the youngest “lifers” in California. While incarcerated, Peejay transformed his life, and after serving 20 years in prison, he was found suitable at his first parole board hearing. Peejay was born in a refugee camp in Thailand where his family fled to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia. Peejay and his family entered the U.S. as refugees when he was only 4 years old. After his parole, Peejay spent 18 months incarcerated in ICE jails, while fighting his deportation case. Peejay was released from ICE jail in May 2018 after a grassroots campaign, #BringPJHome. Peejay remains in “limbo”--and could still face deportation to Cambodia in the future. Peejay is a Certified Rape Crisis, and Addiction Treatment Counselor. He co-trained hundreds of facilitators in trauma therapy and criminal thinking reform. He currently holds a position as the Reentry Navigator with the Asian Prisoner Support Committee, providing peer support and resources to the formerly incarcerated community.

2. Convention Against Torture (CAT) is a United Nations human rights treaty that requires countries to take necessary measures to prevent torture against any person in their jurisdiction and forbids governments to transport people to countries where they may experience torture. The United States Federal Government, specifically, The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have the authority to prevent deportation of an individual if they believe that that person will be tortured. Very few Southeast Asians facing deportation receive CAT, even if they and their families fled genocide and repressive regimes in their home countries.

3. Ny Nourn was incarcerated 16 years for a crime committed by her abusive boyfriend. Upon her release from state prison, she was immediately detained by ICE, where she faced deportation to Cambodia. But after many months of advocacy from community groups across California, Ny walked out of ICE detention in 2017. Currently, Ny still lives in a limbo state without any clear from of immigration status and does not know when she will be deported. Despite the uncertainty, Ny set out to give back to her community.

Now, Ny is the Community Advocate for the Immigrant Rights Program at Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus (ALC). Her work involves interacting with organizations, lawmakers, and communities to help advance and implement legislation, inform affected community members, and represent ALC in coalition spaces. Prior to her current job, in 2018, Ny was the Yuri Kochiyma Fellow at ALC, in which she worked in criminal justice, immigrant rights, and domestic violence advocacy issues. Ny serves as a volunteer with Survived and Punished Coalition and as a Council Member for Asian Prisoner Support Committee, supporting the release of incarcerated domestic violence survivors and immigrants facing deportation.

4. Anoop Prasad is a Senior Staff Attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus. He has provided legal representation to Cambodian Americans for the past decade, including a dozen cycles of targeted ICE raids on the Cambodian community. He is one of the few immigration attorneys who provides representation to people with serious criminal convictions, oftentimes traveling far distances to visit people in state prisons and ICE jails. He represents both Ny Nourn and Borey "Peejay" Ai.

5. Many Uch was born during the Khmer Rouge Genocide and came to the US as a refugee. Lacking a support system and suffering from the effects of trauma, Many turned to gangs for community, which led to his involvement in a robbery and imprisonment for 3 years. Since his release from Immigration jail in 1999, he has helped lead API cultural programs in WA state prisons, provided reentry support to formerly incarcerated community members, and organized against deportations for many others. He is a co-founder of Formerly Incarcerated Group Healing Together (FIGHT). Many was featured in the PBS documentary film, Sentenced Home.

6. Jenny Srey was born in Minneapolis, MN and the daughter of a Cambodian refugee father and indigenous adoptee mother. Jenny began anti-deportation work after her husband, Ched Nin, and seven other Cambodian men were detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in August 2016. Through this crisis, ReleaseMN8 was born in efforts to save families. (from Release MN8)

Despite lawyers and politicians telling her there wasn’t anything that could be done, Jenny fought courageously--at one point collecting 53 support letters for Ched in a span of a few days. Her advocacy eventually resulted in a hearing with a federal immigration judge, a rare occurrence, where finally, after months of fighting, her husband was granted his release. For more on Jenny, Ched, and the ReleaseMN8 campaign, read this powerful feature article.

7. Montha Chum was born in Khao-I-Dang, a refugee camp located in Thailand. She immigrated to Saint Paul, MN as a refugee after her family fled the genocide and civil war in Cambodia. Her advocacy and organizing work began in the summer of 2016 when her youngest brother, Chamroeun “Shorty” Phan, and seven other Cambodian Minnesotans were detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Above all things, family is everything to Montha. This is why she is passionate about helping other families in crisis. (from ReleaseMN8)

The U.S. government attempted to deport Montha’s brother “Shorty” for a 2009 conviction for breaking windows at a bar. Shorty spent 387 days in ICE jail before being released, as a result of massive organizing led by ReleaseMN8. Read more about Shorty’s campaign and release.

8. Many was detained in part due to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) of 1996, which greatly expanded detention and deportation for immigrants and refugees.