♪ GPS: Take Exit 2A.
(device beeping) BUN: We're going to San Quentin in hopes that there's a Thanksgiving holiday for my friend Binh Vo.
He's paroling today.
I was incarcerated with him for about five years.
This is the backside of the prison, where ICE sneaks up and get people.
GPS: Turn left onto Main Street, then your destination will be on the right.
BUN: Dealing with immigration, we don't know what the outcome is.
Once he is in their custody, it's hard, because you don't know if they're gonna put him on a plane, go back to Vietnam.
I was told not to go on prison grounds.
The risk is, um, ICE even coming to get me if, if, if somebody calls on me.
♪ It's 6:15 now, they should be...
If they're gonna get him, they should be coming pretty soon.
♪ The worst-case scenario is, they detain him, and they'll come out this way.
We'll, we'll put up signs letting Binh know that he got support out here.
♪ In 1975, my country was tooken over by the communist Khmer Rouge after the Vietnam War.
I was born in 1979 on the border of Cambodia and Thailand.
When I was about four, my family decided to run the border and try to make it to the refugee camp in Thailand.
♪ When we came here, we came here with nothing, so we started with nothing.
We moved to a poor part of L.A. right by Dodger Stadium and I started school.
It was hard.
We were on welfare, Medicare...
In the '80s and '90s, it was dangerous for a teenager, especially a person of color, the neighborhood we lived in.
It, it was a war zone.
I was illiterate, I couldn't find a job.
Um, I, I have a kid and another one on the way.
And all I knew was the street life.
♪ When I was arrested, I was, like, "Okay, I'm a lookout, I'll probably end up doing no more than five years."
All of a sudden, it's, like, you're facing almost 50 years.
I was, like, "Ha... Ha... What ha... What?
I don't understand what you're telling me."
And nobody was physically harmed.
They just threw my life away.
♪ I started changing slowly.
It took me about 13 years to really change the way I thought, change the way I behave.
And it, it took a lot of studying and understanding myself.
I was given a chance to go to the parole board in February 2020.
It was, it was a long time coming.
It was a dream come true.
I was so, I was so happy, I was numb.
But knowing I got freedom from CDCR, the reality of a ICE hole hits me, like, you're not free yet.
You're going to a detention center.
But I'm going to be locked up again.
My mom couldn't comprehend that.
She's, like, "What do you mean, you're free?"
I was, like, "Well, they're gonna let me out of prison, but immigration is gonna hold me."
She, like, "But you did your time.
You did 23 years."
I was, like, "I know, Mom, but it's just the law."
♪ When we first heard of COVID from the news, we knew that it's going to hit San Quentin.
It's not how it's going to hit it, it's when it's going to hit it.
If you had COVID or you reported that you had COVID, they were locking you up in solitary.
I still think that ICE was gonna pick me up.
So I'm stressed, like, what am I doing?
I have no phone call.
They shut off all the phones because of COVID.
I'm looking for an ICE agent to come in with paperwork to pick me up.
I don't see none.
8:00, 9:00 come, I don't see none.
They said, "You're going to a bus station."
I was, like, "For real?"
They're, like, "Yeah."
And I play off, like, "Okay, cool."
But I'm, like, "Is ICE gonna pick me up in front?
Are they tricking me?
What are they doing?"
I go through the front gate, and they stop the car, and they're, like, "Are you sure he's supposed to come out?"
The officer's having an argument about paperwork, and I'm sitting there, "Oh, they caught me right in the gate.
I can't believe I made it to the gate and they caught me."
He said, "You know what?
I don't care what he's saying.
"I'mma drop him off.
When we come back, we'll do the paperwork."
I'm, like, "Yes, please do that."
♪ The last time I seen my sister, I believe, was 2011.
Hi, Cori, Coco!
Are you ready to be surrounded by all your sisters and your mom?
You're the only boy!
BUN: I know.
I've been thinking about that.
I think I am.
I haven't seen my mom since '98, I believe.
Last time was behind glass.
Oh, Mom is here!
(chuckles) (lock turns) (security alarm beeps softly) (both laughing) (mother sobbing, speaking softly) ♪ MOTHER (in Cambodian): (people talking in background) ♪ BUN: I consider myself Cambodian American.
I still hold on to my roots, my ancestors, and my tradition.
But I've never lived a Cambodian life.
I'm a foreigner in that country, I don't know how to read or write, and I believe my Cambodian is not even strong enough over there.
I don't know if I could make it there, because it's so limited for me.
And if I was to be deported there, uh, I leave my family behind.
♪ (Bun speaking indistinctly) SARAH LEE: Okay.
Maybe you and Ke can be on the main gate side?
Something like that.
LEE: And then Nate can join Marady and I on this side.
I want to help, because I know what, what these families are, are going through.
And a lot of these guys are my friends.
The best-case scenario is, uh, they, they don't pick him up.
Right-- oh, there go a white van right there.
Let's see if he's turning in.
There-- it's turning in, look, right there.
There's a white van right there.
That, that's the van they come in.
ICE OFFICER: If you guys want to stop by and visit, we'll, we'll allow that, okay?
WOMAN: Okay, thank you.
LEE: All right.
Can you tell Binh Vo that... ICE OFFICER: He sees the sign there, he wanted us to honk, but I can't, can't do that... WOMAN: Okay.
- ...but I figured I could let you guys know.
630 Sansome Street, okay?
LEE: They're bringing Binh Vo to the ICE detention processing center in San Francisco right now.
(car engine starting) ♪ BUN: A lot of us from Southeast Asia go through a lot of trauma about family separation, you know?
We have family member that passed away and never heard of from again, and family that went missing during the war, is the same trauma that comes back up when we're detained.
I live every day with fear.
But I don't want to allow that to stop me from enjoying my family, enjoying my freedom, enjoying my second chance.
♪ (laughing) BUN: Bro!
(woman laughing, cheering) ♪