September 30, 2023

Washington, D.C. (June 29, 2010) – A new report, “Removing Refugees: U.S. Deportation Policy and the Cambodian-American Community,” highlights the human rights impact of current immigration policies through the lens of the Cambodian-American community.

The report, based upon interviews conducted in Cambodia with individuals who have been deported, was produced by the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School, the Returnee Integration Support Center and Deported Diaspora. The report can be accessed in its entirety at

The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, a Washington, DC based advocacy organization, has long called for the restoration of fairness to immigration policies and values the important contribution of this report to the comprehensive immigration reform discussion.

“As a country that values justice and the human rights of individuals, we cannot put off tackling some of the country’s most pressing issues such as comprehensive immigration reform – and making sure that reform includes the restoration of judicial discretion,” said Doua Thor, executive director, SEARAC.

Two 1996 Immigration laws, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) expanded the categories for mandatory deportation and eliminated judicial discretion from the removal process for all “aggravated felons.” The Cambodian American community, largely refugees who arrived in the U.S. in the early 1980s, has been hit especially hard by these laws following the signing of an expansive repatriation agreement between the countries in 2002.

“The laws are currently inhumane, unjust, and in many instances at odds with international human rights norms. Immigration reform provides an opportunity to address these overly punitive measures,” stated Chi Mgbako, director of the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic.

“These important voices reveal grave acts of human rights violations in our country’s broken immigration policies,” adds Dimple Rana, Co-Founder and Director of Deported Diaspora. “Due process is a core American value. This report demonstrates how essential it is to restore due process to the people and families who seek asylum, freedom and citizenship in the United States.”