Raised as Americans in a rough area of Seattle, each of the following three Cambodian Americans made a rash decision as a teenager that irrevocably shaped their destiny. SENTENCED HOME reflects with them about their birth in the Killing Fields, their youth on America’s mean streets and their struggles in courtrooms and prisons.
In February 2007, Producer/Director Nicole Newnham reported on what the people in the film have been doing since filming completed.
Kim Ho Ma
Kim Ho Ma’s family was part of a flood of Cambodian refugees admitted to the U.S. in the early ‘80s, seeking asylum and hoping to achieve a piece of the American dream. Arrested as a teenager, Kim spent three years in INS detention after serving his original sentence. While in detention, he helped lead the successful case of Reno v. Ma against the U.S. government that went all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that the INS could not detain him indefinitely, and that he should be released until the time of his deportation. After the U.S. signed a repatriation agreement with Cambodia in 2002, the film follows Kim's deportation from Seattle’s grim public housing projects, where his parents struggled to overcome the ghosts of the past and earn a living in a society they did not understand.
Kim Ho Ma still lives with his wife in rural Cambodia. He still struggles with creating a livelihood to support himself there, and recently began exploring the idea of working with street kids. He remains very sad that his family can only afford to travel to see him infrequently, and worries that he may never see his ailing father again.
In SENTENCED HOME, family man Loeun Lun fought to keep his family together, but ultimately he went through the anguish of being permanently separated from his children, wife and extended family as he was deported to Cambodia.
Loeun and Sarom have kept their marriage together across oceans, and Sarom continues to visit Loeun in Cambodia annually. Loeun was able to see his daughters Emily and Ashley once, when Sarom's entire family, along with Loeun's mother, went to Cambodia for a festival to honor Sarom's grandmother and help her local Buddhist temple. Sarom's grandmother passed away in 2005. Although Loeun no longer lives in the house he and Sarom built, he has purchased some other land in Siem Reap, with the goal of building a larger house soon. Loeun continues to hope that immigration laws will change, and he will one day be reunited with his family in the U.S.
At the end of SENTENCED HOME, Many Uch was still awaiting news of his deportation, taking advantage of what time he had left in the U.S. to give today’s Cambodian-American youth something he never had—the ability to play little-league baseball.
Many Uch and a friend purchased a pool hall in 2006, with the goal of creating a space that would keep community youth off the streets. They have transformed it into a neighborhood gathering spot and cultural center. Many still works part-time as a courier, but since filming finished, he has focused his efforts on education and activism around immigration reform. He was selected to attend a prestigious leadership workshop for promising activists in the Southeast Asian community in Washington D.C. in 2005. Many secured grant money to work with Hate Free Zone in Seattle on the RAFT (Refugee and Family Togetherness) Act, which would, among other things, restore the right of review of deportation cases to refugees. In July, 2006, Many and his fiancee Sophany welcomed their new daughter, Chandhrea Many Nem, into the world. They live in White Center. Until a time when the law changes, Many will wait to be deported.
Learn about the immigration policy that affected the people in SENTENCED HOME >>