Marchers press the cause of detained Cambodian-American
About 75 Cambodian-Americans and immigrant-rights supporters marched to the office of Ramsey County Attorney John Choi Tuesday morning.
The demonstrators chanted "no to deportations" and sought a future meeting to discuss the case of Chamroeun Phan, a Cambodian refugee who has been detained by immigration authorities for exactly a year.
"This is another example of someone who is thrown in jail for no reason, a law-abiding citizen who could be contributing to his family," said John Gordon, interim legal director of the ACLU.
Phan had faced deportation back to Cambodia for the crime of breaking three windows outside a bar in St. Paul eight years ago.
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"Our goal here is to have Mr. Choi be accountable really to what he said to my family, that he was willing to reduce the sentence should it guarantee he not be deported," said Montha Chum, the detainee's sister.
Chum said that Choi met her family last November, and sent a letter of support to an immigration judge on the family's behalf, but that they need more help.
A spokesman for Choi's office, Dennis Gerhardstein, said Phan's case is out of their jurisdiction.
"We sympathize with the difficult position Mr. Phan is in," he said. " And we have both provided a letter of support to his attorney for his federal immigration court hearing and offered to provide a similar letter if he applies for a pardon from the Governor.
"We don't have the authority to reduce his previous sentence. However if his attorney chooses to file a motion to the judge, he or she can make that determination."