#KeepDucHome Action Turned to Celebration with USCIS Cancelling their Appointment with Đức Nguyễn for the Second Time
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.— Today, community members across Santa Clara County celebrated in the success of the #KeepDucHome 2019 action. More than 50 people—ranging from community led organizations, faith based organizations, nonprofit representatives, attorneys, San Jose City Officials, and Santa Clara County staff—arrived to the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services USCIS in Santa Clara to demand that father, husband, and community leader Đức Nguyễn not be separated from his family. However, the action turned to celebration as a representative from the USCIS office notified Đức’s family less than an hour before his appointment that they have “made a mistake” and therefore cancelled the appointment.
“We are confident that when USCIS heard we were coming, they scrambled,” said ViệtUnity-PACT organizer Danny Đoàn.
“They cannot continue doing this to our families. This is the second time USCIS demanded Đức to appear and cancelled last minute,” said ViệtUnity organizer Andrew Nguyen. “They get away with it as if it’s nothing.”
USCIS has placed Đức and his family in unnecessary fear, stress, and anxiety before.
“Today is not the first time we are out here in front of USCIS to rally for Đức. Last December , sixty to seventy of us came out to rally to support Đức,” said Andrew Nguyen.
“In November 2018, Đức received his first notice from USCIS authorities, demanding that he come in to their office to be reassessed for the I-130 Alien Relative Petition, even though it was already approved,” said Danny Đoàn.
ViệtUnity South Bay and People Acting in Community Together PACT organized an action in December 2018, the first #KeepDucHome, now referred to as #KeepDucHome 2018. But when the authorities got word that people all over the Bay Area were planning to rally at their office, they promptly called the night before the assessment to say it was a mistake. The rally in turned to celebration.
The second action, #KeepDucHome 2019, went in the exact same direction.
"I just want to be a father, a resident, work and pay my taxes like everyone else," said Đức Nguyễn, who is at risk of family separation due to the Trump Administration’s harmful detention and deportation policies.
“Donald Trump, [Department of Homeland Security] DHS, and [Immigration Customs Enforcement] ICE are trying their hardest to send Southeast Asian refugees back to a country they never been to or don't know at all,” said Kevin Lo, staff attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice in San Francisco.
For Southeast Asian refugees like Đức, “The odds were against them when they came to the U.S.,” says Mimi Nguyen, a nonprofit immigration attorney in Santa Clara County. “They have struggled, they have persevered; they have made mistakes, they have paid for their mistakes; they are resilient, they are strong; they are kind, they are caring; and most importantly they human just like the rest of us.”
[Đức] is so clearly rehabilitated,” says Beth Chance, Immigration Attorney at the Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender. “He took the promise of the criminal justice system that you can pay your debt and move forward. He built a life on that, a family, a community… Because [of this], we know he is not a danger to the community. What would be a danger to the community would be to rip him from his family.”
Detention and deportation affects everyone. Rapid Response Network, ViệtUnity, and PACT member Dieu Huynh reminded the audience that “whether you are Latino, Vietnamese, an immigrant, a refugee, whether you came before or after 1995, we are here to support and protect your families because communities take care of each other. If your loved ones is picked up by ICE, please call the Rapid Response Number at (408) 290 - 1144.”
At the end of the celebration, Reverend Hardy Kim sent the crowd off with a prayer. “Bless our communities and all those willing to stand for migrants and refugees… Give Đức and his family and give us all courage. Bless us and keep us struggling toward wholeness for all in our communities. Amen.”
“Thank you to ViệtUnity and the community for coming out to support me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you,” said Đức as he carries his 2-year old daughter.
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Đức Nguyễn, age 36, is a family man and the only relative his 78-year old mother has left. As a primary caregiver for his mother, wife, and two kids—a 2-year old daughter and 6-year old stepson—he provides in-home support for his mother and stepson who both have medical disabilities and require round the clock care. Đức has lived in the U.S for over two decades and resides in east side San Jose on Senter Rd where he regularly attends Saint Maria Goretti and Chùa Đức Viên Buddhist Community Pagoda on Tully Rd.
Through the U.S. Humanitarian Operation (Hát Ô) program, Đức immigrated at the age of 12 in 1996, a time when gangs and violence negatively impact recent refugee communities. At 16, with few resources and support in the legal process, Đức was convicted and funneled into the criminal justice system without knowing the potential repercussions.
Đức and his family filed a petition for the I-130 and was approved on March 2018. Despite having his petition approved, USCIS sent yet another letter demanding an interview to determine his eligibility for the I-130, to which his attorney surmises is ICE’s tactic for possibly re-detaining Đức. The interview notice clearly states, “Failure to appear for this appointment may result of denial of your application/petition from which there is no appeal." A removal of his approved I-130 immediately puts Đức at risk for deportation.
If deported to Vietnam, Đức has no one to house or support him. The rest of his family in the U.S., who are all U.S. citizens, would face significant hardships without him.
VietUnity’s theory of change is rooted in community involvement and community building in order to take on systemic inequalities. We believe in the power of community and are devoted to enhancing our community’s role in building a just society by fostering progressive leadership. We draw strength from our community’s histories and work to uplift our narratives. https://www.facebook.com/VietUnitySB
PACT: People Acting in Community Together is a multiracial, multi-faith organization that empowers people to create a more just community. PACT has more than 25 member congregations, organizations, and partner schools representing 50,000 people in Santa Clara County. PACT is part of PICO California and the Faith in Action national network, one of the largest grassroots community networks in the country. www.pactsj.org http://www.facebook.com/PACTSJ
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