Direct Pardon for Lam Hong Le
Governor Gavin Newsom
Our friend, Lam Hong Le, is at risk of deportation.
Award-winning filmmaker Emiko Omori has made a short film about Lam Le. You can watch it here.
Governor Gavin Newsom
From: [Your Name]
Dear Governor Newsom,
I am writing in support of Lam Hong Le, a former inmate at San Quentin, who is now in danger of being deported to Vietnam by ICE.
In the midst of the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of Southeast Asian refugees fled to the U.S. to seek freedom from political persecution and the Communist take-over of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Many of those who fled fought alongside or supported U.S. forces during the war. Others were born in refugee camps and have never set foot in the country to which they currently face deportation.
Lam Le was a child when he fled the Vietnam War. He survived the refugee camps. Then he was brought by the U.S. government to California. Like so many other refugees, Lam was resettled in a struggling neighborhood with little support and, as a result, he was set up to fail upon arrival in the U.S. Lam, who was still a child, ended up homeless and joined a gang for survival. He was caught in a cycle of violence that had dominated his life and convicted as a youth offender for murder during a gang conflict.
Lam served 32 years in prison. He did his time. He succeeded in rehabilitating himself and healing his childhood trauma.
While in prison he became a devout Christian, educated himself, and transformed his life. Lam was released from San Quentin in the fall of 2019 at the age of 52. Tragically, within minutes of his release, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained him and imprisoned him in the Yuba County Detention facility. After 2 months and 8 days he was released under deportation proceedings. Lam is subject to routine "check-ins" with ICE. His next check-in is on June 7, 2021, at which time we are gravely concerned that ICE will take him back into custody and deport him immediately to Vietnam. ICE is acting in blatant disregard of the 2008 agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam to cease deportations of Vietnamese refugees who arrived in the U.S. prior to 1995. In March of 2021, 33 Vietnamese refugees were rounded up and quietly deported by ICE. Consequently, Lam Le is in imminent danger of deportation and therefore requires the expediency of a Direct Pardon from Governor Newsom.
If deported, Lam will face yet another crushing uprooting, He will be torn away from his younger brother and family to a place where he has no family connection, community support, or economic means. Having escaped the communist regime in Vietnam, Lam has made public statements about the atrocities he witnessed and would therefore be subject to government surveillance and stigmatized as a traitor. He will face discrimination in finding employment and other opportunities to find a secure existence. Others who associate with him could also become subject to surveillance and questioning. He fears for his ability to survive, but more so, he fears for his life. In the past, others with similar situations have disappeared and been murdered. The routine California pardon process often takes years to be considered, but because of the potentially dire consequences for Lam, we are asking Governor Newsom for the expediency of a "Direct Pardon" .
In the 18 months of his relative freedom, Lam has acquired a full time job as an essential worker. He is actively engaged in community service, and immersed in his warm and welcoming Vietnamese church community. Lam is no threat to society and is, in fact, a kind, reflective, and hard-working man. He is a childhood survivor of extreme violence and trauma who transformed himself and now offers care for others who have also experienced childhood violence.
In this time of rising anti-API hate and violence, the targeting of Southeast Asians by ICE is deplorable and does not reflect the values of our country. Lam served a total of 32 years in prison. He did his time. He succeeded in rehabilitating himself and healing his childhood trauma. We believe that granting Lam a pardon would represent the confirmation of a promise made to refugees and their families who fought alongside the U.S. during the war, that our democratic country would protect and keep them safe.
For all these reasons, and under these pressing circumstances, I urgently request that you grant Lam Hong Le a direct pardon.