GoFundMe started for former Long Beach residents deported to Cambodia

The Long Beach Southeast Asian (LB SEA) Anti-Deportation Collective has started a GoFundMe to raise funds to support Tuy Sobil and Veasna Sany. (Courtesy of LB SEA Anti-Deportation Collective via Facebook)

The Long Beach Southeast Asian (LB SEA) Anti-Deportation Collective has started a GoFundMe to help support two former Long Beach residents who were deported to Cambodia in 2004.

The GoFundMe campaign was started on Feb. 4 and has raised $950 as of Thursday, Feb. 18. It has a goal of raising $10,000, with the intent that Veasna “China” Sany and Tuy “Kay Kay” Sobil will each receive $5,000.

According to the GoFundMe page, both Sany and Sobil depend on financial support from their families in the United States, but their relatives are currently experiencing economic hardship due to the pandemic.

Like many other Cambodians, the families of both Sany and Sobil relocated to Long Beach and had to settle in an impoverished and violent neighborhood that was heavily policed during the “tough on crime” era.

Sany arrived to the United States when she was five after her family fled the Cambodian Genocide. Sobil was born in a refugee camp in Thailand during the Cambodian Genocide and arrived in the United States when he was two years old.

According to the Right to Reunite campaign, facing bullying at school and constant violence in their neighborhood, many Cambodian youths including Sobil joined gangs for protection when they were just children. At 18-years-old, he was arrested for snatching a purse and sentenced to two years in prison.

The Right to Reunite campaign also stated that because of the lack of acessibility to mental health services, Sany and her family struggled with trauma from the genocide, leading to tension and arguments at home. When Sany was 14-years-old she began using drugs to try to cope with the circumstances around her. At the age of 19 she was arrested for a drug offense.

According to the GoFundMe page, neither knew that accepting a plea deal in their cases would lead to their deportation.

The Right to Reunite campaign has been advocating for the return of Sany and Sobil to the United States for years. It is one of the numerous organizations that have called the practice of deporting immigrants upon completion of their jail and prison sentences a xenophobic attempt to unequally punish immigrants more than citizens for the same crimes.

“China and Kay Kay are examples of the many who faced deportation over minor offenses. They unknowingly accepted unfair plea deals that triggered their deportation which are currently decades-old convictions that affect them to this day,” the GoFundMe states.

In 2006, two years after being deported, Sany was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis that severely affects her daily life and now needs a hip replacement.

Sobil has since used his interest in break dancing to start a nonprofit in Cambodia called Tiny Toones that teaches disadvantaged youth dance, music, art, mathematics and Khmer and English language studies.

“The Long Beach Southeast Asian Anti-Deportation Collective is committed to advocating for their right to return to this country, but in the meantime it is imperative we ensure their survival overseas,” the GoFundMe campaign states.

Biographies with more information on Sany and Sobil‘s lives can be found on the Right to Reunite campaign’s website.

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