Tag Archives: Refugee

Community Shows Support as Local Activist Petitions for Pardon to Avoid Deportation

by Elizabeth Turnbull

Close to three decades after Oloth Insyxiengmay was incarcerated as a teenager, he has established himself as a youth advocate, while also fighting against the threat of his own deportation. 

On Friday, Sept. 10, Insyxiengmay went in front of the Washington State Clemency and Pardons Board to petition for a pardon of his criminal convictions in order to diminish the risk of an order of deportation. Ultimately, the board voted against recommending that Gov. Jay Inslee pardon Insyxiengmay.

Prior to Friday’s hearing, over 60 individuals wrote letters in support of Insyxiengmay and over 350 people, including members of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, joined a Zoom call on Thursday, Sept. 9, to advocate for his pardon.

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Washington Organizations Are Resettling Afghan Refugees, Here’s How You Can Help

by Mark Van Streefkerk

The U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan has left a chaotic and uncertain path forward for refugees and those with special status seeking to evacuate during the Taliban takeover. Washington-based organizations and resettlement agencies are scrambling to rally resources and funding to welcome people fleeing Afghanistan — U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents (of the U.S.) and their immediate family members, those with Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), as well as refugees. These organizations are anticipating resettling thousands of people over a timeline that will take months, or even a year. 

Afghans with SIVs are typically those that have worked with the U.S. in Afghanistan. Currently, the U.S. Embassy has issued a directive for U.S. citizens to be evacuated, but other at-risk Afghans without special status are also fleeing the country as refugees.

Navid Hamidi, executive director of the Afghan Health Initiative (AHI), explained the current situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control: “Eventually people that worked with the United States Army or western countries, any type of involvement, those people will be targeted and they are in fear of their lives … As the U.S. pulled out and the Taliban took power, they had no strategy and no plan to evacuate all these people.”

“The only thing that people thought was the best option is to go to the Kabul airport. There’s so much chaos going on there right now … they are all in the airport begging for the U.S. and their allies to just evacuate them,” he said. 

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King Donuts Takes a Much-Needed Break and Unveils Plans for the Future

by Mark Van Streefkerk

When it comes to Rainier Beach landmarks, King Donuts is one of the most easily identifiable. Located in a bright blue-and-pink shop at the southwest corner of the Safeway parking lot on Rainier Avenue South, King Donuts houses a laundromat, a teriyaki kitchen, and a donut shop. 

It’s a unique and ambitious business model for a relatively small space. Almost as if to reassure passersby, the sprinkled, crowned King Donut mascot painted on the side of the building exclaims, “It’s a Real Place!” from his perch atop a washing machine, a bowl in one hand and chopsticks in the other. 

Owned and operated by the Chhuor family, King Donuts will continue to be a special place in the community far into the foreseeable future, but after weathering a pandemic and assessing what they can realistically sustain long-term, the family had to make some hard decisions. 

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The Key to a Refugee Community’s Success

by Julie Pham

(This article previously appeared on Người Việt Tây Bắc and has been reprinted under an agreement.)

“Một cây làm chẳng nên non. Ba cây chụm lại thành hòn núi cao.” This Vietnamese proverb means that a single tree doesn’t matter much. Three trees together look like a mountain. 

How does a refugee community like the Vietnamese achieve so much when we came with so little? My father, Kim Phạm, always stressed that the success of our community is rooted in a willingness to support and uplift one another so that we can achieve our dreams. We have been able to do so much more with what little we have because we have each other’s backs. 

Many of these dreams started in Vietnam. Like hundreds of thousands of other South Vietnamese who fought against the communists during the Vietnam War, my father was forced into a communist prison camp to be reeducated in the years after the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Inside the camp, he dreamed of starting a newspaper in the U.S. The dream was realized in Seattle, where my parents and I managed to find refuge after fleeing Vietnam as boat people. My parents named the newspaper Người Việt Tây Bắc (NVTB), which translates to “Vietnamese people of the Northwest.” 

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