I am fighting deportation because family means everything to me. And my family are all here in the United States - my parents, my sister and brother, all my cousins, aunts, uncles and my grandma.  I could be put on a plane any day to Cambodia, the place my parents fled in fear 32 years ago, just before I was born. I have chosen not to be silent, and to fight both for myself and for the hundreds of other people taken from their families every day. Home is where my family are and I’m fighting deportation to stay with them.

My family matters the most to me. They shape my values, give me immense opportunities and inspire my dedication to public service. My parents immigrated to the United States as refugees in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Facing persecution for being ethnically Chinese in a war-torn Vietnam, both of my parents’ families left behind everything they were familiar with and sold everything they owned for the chance to come to America. They spent nearly a year and a half in refugee camps in Indonesia and Malaysia, sleeping in cold barracks that resembled backyard tool sheds. When my family finally made it to the United States, they had to adapt to entirely new culture and language. Somehow, through incredible will power, the kindness of community, and the support of social safety programs—my parents managed to give my sister and I opportunities they could only dream of. In their own way, they were able achieve an American Dream—not in the traditional white picket fence kind of way, but simply the opportunity to give their children a better and brighter future. 
Unfortunately, because of this country’s broken immigration system, the American Dream is becoming less and less attainable for families like mine. On a daily basis, families are being torn apart and others are left to live with the ever-looming uncertainty of deportation. I work in the political world, so it is easy to become very cynical. From budget cuts, to corrupt elected officials, to the growing influence of money in politics— there are plenty of reasons to lose faith in government and institutions and the democratic process. I have been fasting every Wednesday for the last 4 weeks because I refuse to give into the cynicism—or the belief that our country cannot progress or that the American Dream is unattainable. I am fasting because I remain hopefully that the American Dream can be a reality. 

Standing Together

Our two daughters and our unborn son are our reasons for asking for a stop to deportations for all.

My husband was brought here as a refugee as an infant from war torn Laos.  He was given permanent residence in the only nation he has ever known.  He made a mistake while young but does not deserve to be punished for it again.  He has a final order for deportation; however Laos does not accept deportees at this time. We live in constant fear of this changing and our family being separated.  Our two daughters and our unborn son are our reason for asking for a stop to deportations for all.  We walk together as a family through life and we deserve the right to remain standing together.  We are a family encircled with love and we need to remain linked. Please help us stay together by stopping deportations today!

  1. Camera: LG Electronics LG-E980
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SEARAC would like to thank everyone who participated in our “What have your grandparents taught you?” campaign on aging.  In recognition of the significant contribution of elders to families and communities we received great submissions telling wonderful stories.  Thank you again to everyone for making this a successful heartwarming blog campaign. 

Join us in our next campaign!

 2 million Reasons We’re Fighting Deportation! 

Life Lessons from a Hmong Grandfather to His Granddaughter

“Wake up, kids! It’s 6:30!” my grandpa said as he pulled off the blanket that covered my head. I moved around, pretending to stretch and then curling back into a ball. Through my squinted eyes, I could see that my siblings were still lying next to me. I popped my head up and looked at the alarm clock across the room. It read: 6:10. This was my daily routine growing up. I grew up with my grandparents taking care of me and my siblings since my parents were always so busy working. For as long as I can remember, my grandpa was always the one taking me and my siblings to school every morning, and picking us up every afternoon once school got out. We numbered a total of eight kids at the time who were all attending elementary, middle, and high school. My grandpa always said that once he dropped us all off at school, within an hour or so, he would have to start picking us up again. This was true given the fact that we were in almost every grade level.

I never knew if my grandpa ever grew tired of doing the same thing every day because he never complained about us. Instead, he always dropped us off 30 minutes before the school bell rang and would always be waiting at the same spot to pick us up before school got out. He was never late and always made sure he got all the kids back home safe and sound. He even made sure that we took care of each other once we were at school. “Don’t mess around, and make sure you big kids watch out for the little kids,” he would say every morning when he dropped us off at school.

Because I spent my whole childhood with my grandpa, I got to know and love him very much. I admired the fact that he never gave up on himself. As a refugee from Laos who arrived in the U.S. in 1990, he did his best to quickly adjust to America. He managed to teach himself how to drive, which gave him a whole lot of freedom. And even though he only knew two English words: “yes” and “no,” he managed to find junk yards where he could buy metals and other materials to make his own tools and furniture, putting the blacksmith skills he had brought with him from Laos to good use.  

I am thankful that my grandpa taught me to love because he raised all twelve of his grandchildren out of pure love: taking us to school every morning, picking us up from school every afternoon, and making sure that we were safe and sound. He also taught me courage because even though he did not speak any English, he managed to be independent in his own way in America. Growing up, I learned so much from this man and I wished that I could have had more time with him. Now, he is at rest and may his soul be at peace. Mus zoo, kuv yawg. I will always remember all the great memories we shared together. Thank you for everything.

-Bao