Kao Saelee is a refugee from Laos who came to the United States with his family when he was just two years old. His family is of Mien descent, an ethnic minority in Laos, and thus, decided to leave due to persecution. They fled to a Thai refugee camp and eventually ended up in California.
Kao’s family did not have much money when they arrived and struggled to survive. Because Kao was the oldest, he had to take care of all his siblings and cousins, which is really difficult for a young person, especially since Kao was an immigrant. He was bullied at school and to deal with all of the stress that he was under, Kao started to self-medicate. Thus, at 18 he was kicked out and became homeless.
Struggling with homeless and drug-addiction, Kao took part in an armed robbery for which he was arrested. While this is a crime that should obviously be dealt with, our criminal justice system is racist and unjust. People who grow up in poverty like Kao are not given the resources that they need. Our country doesn’t have enough preventative programs to help young individuals who are struggling and in need of support. Kao ended up with a twenty-five-year sentence.
Source: NowThis News/Youtube
While in prison, Kao found a support system, took part in rehabilitation programs, and went to church. Because of his good behavior, he was allowed to become an inmate firefighter. This life-threatening only earned him a few dollars a day, but he was grateful and happy to be helping people.
At 41 years old, Kao was finally set to be released. His sister came to pick him up and they were planning on spending the day swimming and eating at a family barbecue. But that never got to happen. As soon as he was released, guards handed him over to a privately contracted agent who threw him in a van and took him into ICE custody. Kao is now thousands of miles away from his family and has no idea how long he will be there or if he will get deported.
Kao has already done so much and deserves to finally get to be free and see his family. What the US justice system has done to him is cruel and completely unjust. Right now, activist organizations are speaking out on Kao’s behalf. Assemblymember Rob Bonta and other legislators have also been trying to stop Kao’s deportation by asking Governor Newsom to pardon him.
Sign this petition and ask that once he is sworn into office, Joe Biden save Kao the hero from deportation and allow him to stay with his family in this country that they call home!
To continue speaking up, sign these other petitions as well:
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