Advancing Justice Statement on Appointment of Tony Pham as ICE Director


Washington, DC — Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five independent Asian American civil rights organizations, issues the following statement today.

“On August 25, ICE announced that Tony Pham, a Vietnamese refugee, will be its next Acting Director. As lawyers, advocates, and members of immigrant and refugee communities, we have witnessed firsthand the terror and trauma that ICE inflicts on our communities. We have seen ICE rip apart families, lock immigrants in cages, and deny people even the most basic human rights. And these cruel detention and deportation practices have not spared even those who, like Tony Pham, fled to this country seeking refuge from violence and war. The United States has already deported over 2,000 Southeast Asian refugees, and 15,000 more live under constant fear that ICE will abruptly tear them away from their homes and their loved ones.

Tony Pham’s emphasis on his family’s “lawful path” to citizenship perpetuates an ahistorical and harmful narrative that ignores the harshness of our immigration system and dismisses the humanity of the millions of immigrants in the United States who are at risk of deportation. We reject this narrative. Tony Pham does not represent or speak for our communities, and his appointment as ICE Director in no way changes the fundamental cruelty of an agency that exists to criminalize immigrants. The United States must defund ICE and end the violence of deportation, and we will continue to fight for a future where our immigrant and refugee families can finally feel safe in their homes.

You can take action today to help us protect Vietnamese refugees from ICE. Tien Pham came to the United States when he was a child and was resettled in an impoverished and gang-controlled neighborhood, where he was bullied on a daily basis. At 17, he was arrested for a fight with a group of other youth and sentenced to life in prison. After 20 years in prison, a parole board recommended he be released, citing his rehabilitation, but ICE plans to arrest him on his release date. Call today to stop his transfer to ICE:”


Megan Singson, Advancing Justice – Chicago, 773-271-0899 x200,

Michelle Boykins, Advancing Justice | AAJC, 202-296-2300 x0144,

Sabrina Chin, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, (415) 351-9737,

James Woo, Advancing Justice – Atlanta, 404-585-8446,

Liza Ameen, Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, (213) 977-7500 x258,


Asian Americans Advancing Justice is a national affiliation of five leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all. The affiliation’s members are: Advancing Justice | AAJC (Washington, DC), Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco), Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, Advancing Justice – Atlanta, and Advancing Justice – Chicago.