Immigration activist Lundy Khoy receives Governor’s Pardon in Virginia
Washington, D.C. (May 13, 2016) — Last week, SEARAC Operations Manager and community advocate Lundy Khoy received an official Governor’s Pardon from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. The pardon recognizes Lundy’s “commitment to good citizenship” in the fifteen years since her conviction and her fierce advocacy for humane immigration laws. The “simple pardon” does not erase her criminal record, but it may help her reopen her immigration case and eventually cancel her deportation order.
Lundy said, “Governor McAuliffe and the Virginia Parole Board’s decision to grant me a pardon shows that they believe that people are capable of profound change and deserve a second chance. It’s time for more of our elected officials to recognize that it is good for families, communities, and society to allow people to rebuild their lives with forgiveness and redemption after they have paid for their mistakes.” Governor’s pardons are increasingly rare, especially for immigrants with felony records.
For the past four years, Lundy has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the injustice of automatic and irreversible deportation without judicial review, even for those who came to the United States as refugee children. In 2012, SEARAC partnered with Lundy to feature her short documentary, “Save Lundy,” which has been screened for community groups across the country. Since then, Lundy has spoken for multiple national immigrant rights rallies, testified at three Congressional briefings, made dozens of visits to members of Congress, and received a letter of support from Virginia Republican Congressman Frank Wolf. Lundy’s story has been featured in multiple news outlets, including theWashington Post, NBC news, and The Atlantic, as well as the Human Rights Watch report “A Price Too High.“
Lundy was born in a refugee camp in Thailand to parents who had just fled the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia, and came to the United States when she was one year old. In 2001 as a freshman at George Mason University, a night out with the wrong crowd resulted in an arrest and conviction for possession of drugs with intent to distribute. She served only three months of her five year sentence before the judge suspended her sentence. During her probation she worked full time and went back to college.
Unfortunately, because of immigration laws passed in 1996, the mistake Lundy made as a teenager who hadn’t yet completed the process to become a US citizen triggered a “life sentence” of automatic deportation to Cambodia, a country she has never even visited. SEARAC Executive Director Quyen Dinh said, “For over four years, Lundy has advocated for members of Congress to see that immigrants deserve the basic due process right to tell their story to a judge who can weigh whether permanent deportation is really just and fair. Gov. McAuliffe and the Virginia Parole Board agree that people, including immigrants, who have already paid for their mistakes deserve a second chance. We are thrilled that Lundy can take this important step in her fight against her order of deportation, and we commend the state of Virginia for doing the right thing.”
The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) is a national organization that advances the interests of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans by empowering communities through advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building to create a socially just and equitable society. Find out more at www.searac.org.