in a blink, they take it away.


i watched this documentary called sentenced home. it follows the story of three cambodian-americans who were deported after they had already served time for the crimes they'd committed. the dudes were from white center, a poor area near seattle. these three guys came to america as refugee children under pol pot's reign, and they never became citizens. because congress passed a law in 1996, the u.s. now reserves the right to deport anyone without u.s. citizenship who has committed a felony. the fucked up thing of it is, these guys didn't know they were going to get deported, or that they were on "borrowed time."

so basically, the way it works is, people are brought over to the u.s. when they're really young, and their parents don't know anything about the importance of citizenship and all that crap. who the hell cares, right? some time passes, and because the neighborhood is rough (still better than the third world), they find a group of tough kids to hang with. it goes from stealing to a little bit of drugs, and then pretty soon it's armed robbery. and then a certain "degree" of something or other, something perfectly intangible, somehow transforms that kid's misdemeanor into a felony.

then he serves his time. guy does two years out of a seven year sentence. that's fair, right? don't do the crime if you can't do the time. so, that guy gets released after two years. he's like, shit, it's good to be free. he meets a girl; they fall in love. he gets a job; they get married; they buy a house. then there's a kid, and then another kid. things are cool until, all of a sudden, somewhere down the road, i.c.e. says, "nuh uh. you're coming with us." so, he gets locked up in a detention center indefinitely. "what am i doing here?" he says, "i already served my time!" the man with the baton answers, "you're a threat to homeland security."

after twenty days at the detention center, the non-citizen is released. someone decides he isn't a threat after all. a few months later, i.c.e. fucks with him again. they've decided he is a threat after all. they give him a week's notice that he's going to be deported. "when do i have to leave?" he says. "monday," the cold voice answers. "monday? but it's monday today!" that's a week for you. monday to monday in the only country you've ever known, the only language you've ever spoken, the only people you've ever touched. "but i've got a house, a job, kids!" "well, all that's gone now. you should've thought about all that when you were seventeen and you robbed that clerk at gunpoint."

dude gets deported and because his native country was pressured post-9/11 to accept deportees, that's where he goes. he's sentenced back to the country his parents fled just decades ago. he went from a decent house in the states to a shaky wooden shack with no electricity, no running water, no source of income. and for what? he didn't fill out a citizenship application. it's crazy. the parent flees, family in tow, seeking a new life with better opportunities in a prosperous land. the same prosperous land which exiles her child years later, condemning him to the third-world.

a part that stuck out for me was when one deportee's sister said, "it would've been better had they deported him immediately, when he committed his crime. why wait eight years later when he's got a family and a house?" really, what are they getting out of this?

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