Chong Kim traveled to the U.S. legally from South Korea when he was just five years old. He attended American schools, never learned to speak Korean, and was a valid green card holder. His love of the United States was so great that in 2005 he joined the National Guard. Kim served “his” country honorably in Iraq in 2009 and 2010. He is currently being detained at an ICE detention center and faces deportation at the hands of The Department of Homeland Security due to minor crimes he allegedly committed after returning from Iraq.
According to Perry Gastineu, who served alongside Kim in Iraq, Mr. Kim saw “horrific things” while stationed there. As a result, he came home struggling with PTSD and drug addiction, which led to two minor criminal convictions–one in 2013 and again in 2016. After his conviction in 2016, Kim sought help and completed a four and a half month Department of Veteran’s Affairs drug rehabilitation program. By all accounts, he was well on his way to turning his life around when he was arrested by the Department of Homeland Security early in April.
Jordan Meyers, a U.S. Navy veteran who met Kim in a PTSD support group after the war, has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for Kim’s legal fees. Says Meyers:
If you’re willing to sacrifice your life potentially, if you’re willing to write that blank check, payable up to and including your life to the United States of America, I feel like you’ve earned the right to live in the United States of America.
Kim has been held in an ICE detention center ever since his arrest in April, awaiting an immigration hearing to decide whether or not he should be deported to a country he most likely does not remember, whose language he does not speak.
On October 4, six months after being arrested, a Washington State judge denied Kim’s lawyer’s request that he be released until his trial date. Considering that the average immigration hearing takes around 18 months to be heard due to a backlogged court system, the judge’s decision means that Kim may be spending the next year of his life in a detention center.
Where are all of the so-called “patriots” who are outraged at NFL players “taking a knee” and love to scream “what about the veterans?” Kim has undeniably given as much or more than most of them ever have to this country and has certainly earned the right to stay. His crimes were committed as a direct result of the emotional wounds he bears from serving our country in Iraq, and he deserves our respect and support while he struggles to get his life back.
To lock him up indefinitely while he awaits a trial to determine if we should deport him is a cruel and despicable way to thank him for his service.