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A non-profit organization
Registered 501(c)(3) Charitable Organization
Sophia Ngor, Executive Director
Sam Waterston, Honorary President
 



“SENTENCED HOME” by Nicole Newnham and David Grabias
 
"Sentenced Home" Aired Nationally on the Emmy Award-Winning PBS Series INDEPENDENT LENS on Tuesday, May 15, 2007
 
“Sentenced Home”: A Review By D’nae Kingsley  
Aliens couldn’t have been farther from my mind as I settled into my red velvet seat at the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills, CA for an advanced screening of "Sentenced Home". The glitter curtains, reminiscent of a night club singer’s gown, eventually parted to reveal what I would later find to be a profoundly intelligent and emotional documentary about the deportation of Cambodian refugees, referred to by the U.S. government as legal "aliens."
 
The documentary begins by introducing three Cambodian men who had been raised as Americans in the inner-city projects of Seattle. The three young men had escaped the tragic "killing fields" of Cambodia with their families. They were accepted into the U.S. as refugees and granted permanent residence as legal aliens.
Unfortunately, the families were never informed of the importance of gaining full citizenship. Citizen status would later be the only thing that could save them from deportation.

Growing up in the inner-city projects as Cambodian children was not easy. As one gentleman put it, "We were the minority within the minority."  Furthermore, the children and families were never provided informational programs to assist them in acclimating to an entirely new culture. Immersed in prejudice and violence, the three Cambodian men found themselves in gangs. As teenagers, they made some poor decisions and found themselves doing time in juvenile detention. But once they did their time, they all went on to live fairly normal lives.

In 1996, however, a law was passed to allow the deportation of any "alien" who commits a crime, regardless of when they did it and if they had already served their time. Additionally, an "alien" did not have the right to defend him or herself against deportation. This law was passed right on the heels of the Oklahoma City bombing, for which authorities would later discover was not a violent act of terrorism by someone from another country.

A few years later, the three Cambodian men would come face to face with the hard realities of this new law. "Sentenced Home" captures their heartrending and dramatic wait for deportation and loss of hope for a second chance in America.

At the conclusion of this poignant film, I couldn’t get the thought of "aliens" out of my head… This documentary is a must-see. I hope it will move you as much as it has moved me.

 
 
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