Everybody messes up when they're young. Not everyone pays the same consequences. In the new podcast Indefensible, the Immigrant Defense Project presents all-too-real stories of deportation and the communities that it impacts everyday. The second episode, produced by former CultureStrike team member Will Coley, tells the story of Lundy and Linda, two sisters, divided by citizenship status, go on parallel journeys as their family struggles to keep Lundy in the only country she's ever called home. As Cambodian American refugees, they embody the plight of hundreds of migrants and families who have been threatened with forced repatriation after getting in trouble with the law in their adopted country. Thanks to arcane changes to deportation policy during the Clinton era, their lives have been plunged into uncertainty over crimes that would for many American citizens lead onto to a slap on the wrist: for refugees, who've already grown up with the trauma and strife of a war-torn diaspora, a run-in with the cops could turn into a nightmare of family separation, incarceration and exile.
--Michelle Chen, June 9, 2017
Lundy was born in a refugee camp in Thailand after her parents fled Cambodia’s genocide. Like millions of other Southeast Asians displaced from the region due to US aggression, the family was brought to the United States through a refugee resettlement program, and Linda was later born in California. As they adjusted to life here, Lundy and her parents, who received Green Cards (or permanent residence status), didn’t know how to become U.S. citizens.
Linda’s arrest at 19 years old involved hundreds of pills of ecstasy. As a U.S. citizen, Linda served a year in prison and when she was released, she got on with her life. Lundy, on the other hand, was arrested with just seven pills. The judge suspended her sentence and put her on probation so she could go back to school, but now she is facing deportation. Even though Lundy married a US citizen and has a US citizen child, an immigration judge ordered her deported. Through her activism with groups like the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Immigrant Defense Project (IDP), and the Immigrant Justice Network (IJN), Lundy secured a pardon from the Governor of Virginia. But the risk of deportation still looms.