Steve Li's Deportation, Set for [Nov 15], Delayed

November 15, 2010

Steve Li, detained by Arizona authorities since Sept 14 and set to be deported Nov 15, is at least for the moment safe (albeit in a detention facility).

Why exactly his deportation was blocked a day before it was set to occur, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have not yet revealed. Sin Yen Ling, an attorney from the Asian Law Caucus, a civil rights organization currently representing Li, told The Sacramento Bee yesterday only that ICE officials notified her that Li would not be deported as originally scheduled today.

Steve Li is a student at San Francisco State University and came to the US when he was 12. He was, however, born in Peru, where his Chinese parents fled to in order to evade China's one-child policy, as well as to care for Li's elderly grandparents. The facts that he spent most of his adolescent life in the US, and has no family or contacts in Peru, make it clear to me that it would be wrong to deport him at no fault of his own to a far away country, away from his family and friends. Li is also 20 years old, and, again, only a student.

I came to know about Li's case through a number of mass emails from several UCLA email listservs that I'm still on after graduating. What was remarkable is that, although Li has been detained since September, what was his, then, imminent deportation was announced only last Friday. No time at all to appeal legally, or for Li to make arrangements, or even for him to say goodbye adequately to his family.

But in the same amount of time his community jumped, or rather, leaped, into action, pleading for support and urging Senator Dianne Feinstein from California, among others, to act in order to block Li's deportation. And she did, it seems: "I have asked ICE to halt the deportation proceedings while I consider introducing a private bill that will allow Mr. Li to remain in the United States on a temporary basis," said Feinstein in a statement.

Whether Li should be deported is another matter (since I support the DREAM Act generally, I'm of the view that he should absolutely not be), but at least now Li and his supporters have time to construct a proper defense. Again, he was abruptly scheduled for deportation only last week, after being held two months.


Saif Ansari


Saif Ansari graduated recently from UCLA with a BA in philosophy and is now an MA student at NYU, also in philosophy. He is interested mostly in political philosophy, ethics and law. Saif wrote for two years as a columnist for UCLA's student-run newspaper The Daily Bruin. He wrote for and edited several other publications at UCLA and maintains a personal blog at Follow him on Twitter @vetoshield.



Steve Li and others should know by now that China has changed tremendously. He probably would want to return back to China.