Last week, war veterans, mothers, fathers, family, friends, and children held signs of pleas to stop deportations of their loved ones.
Organized by family members of those detained, and supported by a coalition of API advocacy organizations, people lined the streets of Minneapolis outside Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office to demand justice after almost a dozen Cambodian Minnesotans were detained for deportation. This isn’t solely in the Cambodian community. Just last year, the story of Lao American DJ Teace aka Thisaphone Sothiphakhak was in the Minneapolis City Pages.
“That’s the most frustrating feeling,” said Sothiphakhak at the time. “I went through the court system, and literally something 18 years ago came back and made me feel like I was less than human.”
Many outside the adoptee community are surprised when they learn that this country can and will deport international adoptees. Yet, that is exactly what could happen — and has already been happening — for an untold number of adult adoptees.
The US government reports that there have been approximately 250,000 international adoptions recorded in the past 15 years, most adopted before the age of 2. For most of the late twentieth century, the vast majority of these infants were adopted from South Korea; this trend began after the Korean War left many children orphaned. Today, China has overtaken Korea as the most popular country within which prospective parents seek to adopt: nearly one-third of international adoptions involve children born in China. Thus, America’s international adoptees are predominantly Asian American, and the political issues faced by this community deserve our attention and our advocacy.
Most Americans — including many prospective adoptive parents — assume that international adoptees acquire automatic US citizenship with the completion of adoption paperwork. That is simply untrue. The citizenship of international adoptees is dependent upon whether or not their American citizen parents have separately sponsored their petition for US citizenship, even after adoptees have already begun life in America.
This post has been updated. Please click through the jump for more information.
An hour ago, the judge in Nan-Hui Jo’s child abduction case rejected the motion to dismiss the guilty verdict against her, and sentenced Jo to 175 days of jail (counted as time served) and three years probation. A jury found Jo guilty of child abduction last month — despite errors in jury instructions highlighted by Jo’s defense in their motion — after Jo fled an abusive relationship she believed endangered both herself and her child and (because she lacked documentation to remain in the United States) returned to Korea.
Jo’s conviction on the child abduction charges now stand (and likely await an appeal) which significantly complicates her fight to regain custody of her six-year-old daughter, who is currently being cared for by Jo’s abuser, the child’s father. Meanwhile, because Jo is not a U.S. citizen, ICE placed a deportation hold on her. After her sentencing today, Jo was transferred to ICE custody and is being detained in an ICE facility pending a decision on deportation.
With this move, Nan-Hui Jo is likely to become one of the thousands of immigrant parents separated from their families by ICE deportation.
This is a devastating setback for Nan-Hui Jo and her supporters. The community is urged to contact ICE Sacramento, and to tweet @icegov and @customsborder and urge them to drop the deportation proceedings.
Supporters are currently awaiting Jo as she as processed out of county jail and released to ICE.
This post will be updated with details as they emerge.
There have been major developments in the case of Nan-Hui Jo, the Korean American survivor of domestic violence who fled with her young child to Korea to escape a dangerous and abusive relationship, only to face kidnapping charges when she returned to the United States for a visit.
Earlier this year, Jo was retried on charges that she kidnapped her daughter — her first trial ended in a hung jury. Jo’s abuser, who is her daughter’s father, claims that Jo’s escape to Korea violated his parental access. Yet, at the time of Jo’s departure, she was facing loss of legal immigration status and was facing deportation. Jo’s abuser, Jesse Charlton — an Iraq war veteran — confessed that at the time he was unemployed, emotionally unstable due to largely untreated PTSD and substance abuse, and was not prepared to assume full-time custody of their daughter. Facing the possibility that she would become an undocumented immigrant (and therefore unable to obtain work) and fearing for her and her daughter’s safety if they remained within Charlton’s influence, Nan-Hui Jo did what conservatives dream of: she “self-deported” with her child.
Today, the Stand With Nan-Hui group launched a letter-writing campaign urging supporters to write letters of support to and for Nan-Hui Jo, who was recently found guilty of child abduction for escaping an abusive relationship with her daughter. This is my letter to Nan-Hui Jo; you are invited to write yours.
You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. In many ways, our stories are different. I am ethnically Chinese, not Korean. My first language is English. I have not (yet) been married. I am not (yet) a mother.
But in many ways, our stories are similar. Like you, I am an immigrant and an Asian American woman. Like you, I’ve had to navigate the complex web of U.S. immigration law just to maintain my life here, and like you, I’ve felt the fear that comes with the possibility of falling out of status. Like you, I’ve lain awake at night terrified that I have run out of options; that I am trapped; that there’s nobody who will help, or will even understand what’s happening.
I can only imagine how much harder trying to survive U.S. immigration law would be when also a survivor of domestic violence. As immigrants and women of colour and with already so few options available, I can only imagine what it’s like to have the possibilities further limited by having to secure not only your own physical safety, but also the physical safety of your child.
They say that domestic abuse is about exerting power. I think it is about weaponizing fear.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!