His family left behind, Willmar man shipped to a country he doesn’t know

Souen “Posy” Chheng was put on a flight to Cambodia yesterday, the West Central Tribune reports. He’s never been to Cambodia. He has no family there. He was born in a refugee camp in Thailand after his family fled the killing fields of Cambodia.

He leaves behind the son who was born five days ago, his wife, his mother, two sisters, and a brother living in the Twin Cities.

Chheng is being sent to Cambodia because he killed a man in Ramsey County when he was 14. He served his prison time.

But he’s not a U.S. citizen and when he responded to a letter last August to check in with immigration authorities in St. Paul, “they detained him then and there,” his wife said.

He was sent to a detention camp in Arizona a few days after learning his wife was pregnant.

When he was released from prison four years ago, his friend, Steve Peppin, gave him a job in his barber shop. Because he had work, an effort to deport him then was put on hold.

Of eight Cambodian Americans swept up for deportation in Minnesota last year, five have now been sent to the southeast Asian country.

“We just try to look at the positive things. Just say that this is God’s plan that we have to go, have to go for the ride,” his wife Allison, told the Tribune a few days ago.

“He is a completely different person,” she said of her husband.

“Nicest guy I know,” Peppin said before a judge cleared the way for the deportation. “For humanity, we have to do the right thing here.”

Background: Cambodian refugees under deportation threat await their fate (MPR News)