The U.S. Is No Longer The Land Of The Free

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Picture: Stuart Isett/New York Times

I'm always here to bring you a more global perspective on the U.S. migration debate and the New York Times does just that with this article on a Cambodian deportee.

Tuy Sobil, or K.K., was a Cambodian refugee who just never went through the motions of applying for U.S. citizenship so when he was arrested for a felony he was deported.  He now teaches hundreds of poor Cambodian children how to break dance, and the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia has even asked K.K. if his son can take a class. 

His breakdancers have even been invited back to the U.S., but K.K. can't go back.  The U.S. is no longer a forgiving place for the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free. 

My favorite part of the article recounts K.K.'s recent interaction with the U.S. ambassador:

His journey between identities reached a point of strangeness when he was invited last December to perform with some of his students at a Christmas party at the United States Embassy.

"The American ambassador gave me a handshake and a hug, and asked me one day when his kid is a little older he wanted to put him in my school," K.K. said.

The ambassador at the time, Joseph A. Mussomeli, recalled the performance as "great fun," but he said the piquancy of the moment had not been lost on him.

"You are right that there is a certain wonderful irony to him being 'rejected' or at least 'ejected' from the U.S. and still landing on his feet -- or shoulders and head -- dancing," Mr. Mussomeli said in an e-mail message.

"While watching him I was reminded of that great patriotic speech by Bill Murray in 'Stripes,' " he added, "where he talks about Americans as being rejects from all the good, decent countries of the world! K.K. is/was an American in everything except in law -- and he has shown this by his creativity, tenacity, and undying optimism."
Seth MyDans - New York Times (29 November 2008)

I also liked some of the transnational organizations that were highlighted in the article like, Bridges Across Borders, and Deported Diaspora.  I had the pleasure of meeting the folks from Deported Diaspora at an event in Brown University.  I still owe Dimple Rana, the person quoted in the New York Times article, the pictures that I took of their incredible t-shirts.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on December 1, 2008 7:10 PM.

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