Tania Romero and Philya Thach: Deporting to Danger 


Tania Romero and Philya Thach face imminent deportation. Their stories show devastating effects of zero tolerance and revocation of legal permanent residence. Read their stories, and join the campaigns to keep them here. 

In August, Tania Romero was stopped for driving without a license, jailed by immigration authorities, and put into deportation proceedings. Although she is currently fighting Stage 4 cancer, she was not allowed to go to her doctor appointment. Surgeries for cancer have left her with many after-effects, including inability to open her mouth all the way. Her son, Cristian Padilla Romero, a doctoral student at Yale and a Dreamer temporarily protected by DACA, is fighting to keep his mother from being deported

“I’m fundamentally here [at Yale] because of my mom. She always worked multiple jobs to help pay for everything. She worked in construction, mostly in drywall and finishing. She worked as a housekeeper in a hotel and different staff in restaurants, in the kitchens. She’s the single biggest reason I went to college…

“The biggest thing is that she had a very serious vitamin B12 deficiency and didn’t receive any kind of medication for it until the attorney intervened. I’m concerned about the accommodations for her meals, for sure. After she finally got the injection for B12, I don’t know if she will get extended mealtimes. The general rule is that everyone has staggered lunches, and they get ten minutes to eat. I don’t know to what extent she’s able to eat everything or feel comfortable. The other thing is that they are in a big room with a hundred other people, with bunk beds, and only turn off the lights for a few hours at night, maybe 1 to 4 a.m., so she doesn’t get any profound or significant rest. I’ve found the other stories she’s told about people inside, like that a pregnant woman was chained and not given any medication. Like you are just another mule in the barn.”

ICE has rejected all humanitarian appeals and plans to deport Romero very soon.  Here is Cristian’s GoFundMe page for legal and medical expenses. 

Philya Thach is a Vietnam War refugee. He was born in Vietnam as his family fled Cambodia. They ended up in a Thai refugee camp, and then in the United States. Now he faces deportation to Cambodia, a country he has never lived in, where he does not even know the language.

More than 20 years ago, when he was an 18-year-old with a child on the way, he was arrested for petty theft and breaking and entering vehicles. He served one year and has never been arrested since then. But even that single offense makes him deportable. For 20 years, under previous presidents, he was allowed to check in with ICE every two years. 

No more. In October, ICE agents stormed his home, without warning or warrant, and took him away to detention. NBC reports

“[Thach] serves as the sole caretaker of his parents Simoun Sam and Kalyan Thach. He considers the U.S. his only home, his daughter said. He cannot speak Khmer nor does he have any living relatives in Cambodia because they were killed in the genocide.”

Thach is one of hundreds of Cambodian refugees targeted for deportation for crimes committed when they were teens or young adults. You can protest continuing deportations of Cambodian refugees by

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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