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A Vietnamese refugee served as one of California’s inmate firefighters. Then the condition gave him to ICE

On his last day in Folsom Point out Jail, Phi Pham paced the firehouse wondering what awaited him beyond the gray penitentiary wall.

Pham had spent the final year as an inmate firefighter, an elite position within California’s next-oldest prison. Among the his incarcerated peers, Pham created a track record as a crew player and a proficient firehouse cook. In composed commendations, his civilian captain mentioned his integrity and “unrelenting operate ethic.”

Thanks in aspect to the glowing evaluations he received from his captain, Pham was awarded early parole. Sentenced in May perhaps 2014 to 14 a long time in point out jail for taking pictures an individual, Pham would instead be introduced on June 16. Only Pham did not know if that meant he would go absolutely free.

Born in a refugee camp in the Philippines and hardened on the streets of Hayward, Pham suggests jail is exactly where he worked to atone for the violent act of a 20-year-aged whose parents had fled the chaotic aftermath of the Vietnam War. Though he has a green card, Pham never turned a naturalized U.S. citizen. And when the state of California considered him rehabilitated, the federal governing administration has its individual system of justice and punishment.

On the day of his launch, Pham was turned in excess of to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. He’s now in a federal detention heart in Colorado, waiting for an immigration choose to choose if he’ll be deported from the only place he’s ever regarded to 1 he’s by no means been to — Vietnam. A final decision could appear as early as Tuesday afternoon.