August 11, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS (June 28, 2019) — On Sunday, June 30, the family of Samol Sao, along with more than a thousand Minnesotans, will march in south Minneapolis to stand with immigrant and refugee community members and activists to speak out against inhumane and unjust anti-immigrant/refugee detention and deportation policies. They will speak about the injustice and pain that the Trump Administration has inflicted on their family. 

Samol came to the U.S. as a refugee with his parents and 12 siblings. He lives in Eagan, Minnesota with wife and is raising three children, all who he would leave behind if deported. He is currently in held a Dallas, Texas detention facility and deported for a crime committed 17 years ago, in which he already served time for. His family worked with attorney Bruce Nestor to seek relief for this conviction, in hopes to stop his deportation proceeding.  Earlier this year, the Rice County Attorney agreed to a modification of Samol’s sentence in recognition of the harsh consequences of Samol’s 2002 conviction for which he received a sentence of probation. 

“This modification recognizes that if Samol had received good legal advice in 2002, a minor sentencing change at that time would have meant he was eligible to apply for relief from deportation based on his years in the United States and strong family ties to the United States,” Nestor said. “This sentencing change in 2019 gave the Immigration Judge the power to reopen his 2002 deportation order and restore his Lawful Permanent Resident status. Rather than exercising this discretionary power, the Immigration Judge simply ignored the 2019 sentence modification and Samol’s eligibility for cancellation of removal. This decision fails to give appropriate consideration to the fact that Samol came to the United States as a refugee when he was a child, the hardship he would face if deported to Cambodia, and the pain that will be experienced by his parents, wife, daughter, son, step-children, and twelve siblings, all of whom are either U.S. citizens or legal residents.”

“Because of the difference of a few words in his 2002 sentencing order, Samol at the time was considered to have an aggravated felony conviction and to be ineligible for any relief from deportation despite his strong ties to the United States. This case illustrates how minor and technical differences can have dramatically different consequences under immigration law – in one case, resulting in what is virtually mandatory deportation, and in the other case allowing someone to keep their legal status. Samol once again is the victim of a harsh and unfair application of the law. Immigration and Customs Enforcement should agree to stay his removal and release him from custody while he continues to exercise his legal right to pursue an appeal and seek justice.”   

Samol’s immigration attorney, Mai Neng Moua, has filed an appeal with the Bureau of Immigration Appeals. We are asking community members to demand that are congressional leaders to everything they can to push for a positive decision in Samol’s case, so that he can remain in the US with his family.   

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