Tell Governor Gavin Newsom to Pardon Sithy Bin!

Sithy Bin was born in a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand and arrived in the United States as a toddler. He grew up in the U.S. and knows it as his only home. Sithy’s childhood was not an easy one and, seeking safety and belonging, Sithy joined a gang at just 13. Sithy made a mistake while still a young man, and faced two life sentences as a consequence. Despite this extreme sentence, Sithy did not give up on himself or his life. While still in prison, Sithy found his faith and became an ordained minister. He worked tirelessly to support his peers and to understand himself and what led him to harm another person. He used his hard-won wisdom to counsel others, including youth who faced similar circumstances as Sithy did growing up. When a new law made Sithy eligible for resentencing, the same judge who originally condemned him struck a sentence and made him immediately eligible for parole, which he received shortly thereafter.

On the day Sithy should have gone home to his family, ICE instead arrested him and took him directly from prison to the Mesa Verde detention facility. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic made ICE detention extremely dangerous, even deadly. Sithy was released as part of a lawsuit challenging ICE’s ability to detain people in those conditions. However, believing he had no choice, Sithy had already signed his deportation order. Sithy was finally free, but left detention with the threat of exile hanging over him.

Since leaving detention, Sithy has worked tirelessly to contribute to his community; support his family; and live the values of his faith. Sithy has two daughters and two grandchildren, all of whom need Sithy in their lives. Sithy is an active member of Renew LA church, and leads a bible study group. He is also a full-time caseworker supporting others going through reentry. Sithy received a certificate in cognitive behavioral therapy in order to better serve his clients, as well as pursuing his BA at Pacific Oaks College. He also volunteers with community organizations serving people leaving prison, as well as with the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition. In recognition of his commitment and expertise, the City of Long Beach recently asked Sithy to serve on the newly-formed Long Beach Reentry Advisory Council.

Sithy’s family, friends, church, and colleagues all need Sithy, and California is lucky to have him as a member of our larger state community. A pardon from Governor Newsom would allow Sithy to remain in California, with his community where he belongs.