Iraq War veteran from Portland released from ICE custody, no lon - KPTV - FOX 12

Iraq War veteran from Portland released from ICE custody, no longer facing deportation

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(Family photo) (Family photo)

An Iraq War veteran who has lived in Portland since he was 5-years old is now a free man, after facing possible deportation to South Korea.

After eight months in an ICE detention center in Tacoma, 42-year-old Chong Kim is coming home to the Rose City.

FOX 12 spoke to Kim on Skype just an hour after he became a free man.

“I haven’t even made it out of Tacoma yet, I was just released maybe 45 minutes ago,” said Kim.

Kim’s attorney, Tim Warden-Hertz with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said after a long battle, Kim won his appeal. Warden-Hertz said Kim’s charges, which put him in ICE detention, have now been dropped down to misdemeanors.

“I’m looking forward to going home and living my life again,” said Kim.

After serving overseas in Iraq, Kim returned home to Portland, he said, that’s where his real fight begun. Over the years, Kim racked up a criminal record. Kim said he had no idea those dark days would follow him and lead to an ICE arrest and possible deportation.

“Those convictions occurred during a dark time in my life,” said Kim.

After his service overseas Kim said he struggled with addiction and substance abuse. Kim has a record of robbery, burglary and harassment. 

In 2016, he was also convicted of attempted arson. After serving time, going through a rehab program, getting a new job, and joining a PTSD support group, Kim said he was finally on a positive path. 

“It wasn’t until I managed to resolve my legal issues and managed to put my life back together, then they came out of the blue and decided they were going to deport me. None of that mattered to them at all, they just, wanted to deport people. As a country a lot of Americans feel that we do deserve second chances,” said Kim.

On April 5, Kim said he got a call to discuss his probation, but that was not the case. Kim said ICE agents were waiting to detain him.

“ICE had never contacted me once to express interest to deport me,” said Kim.

“Anytime that someone is able to reunite with their family and get out of detention and it’s a big victory,” said Warden-Hertz.

“Because my felony had been reduced I was no longer deportable, so they chose to release me rather than to fight it,” said Kim.

Now, Kim said this is his second chance.

“A lot of people felt strongly about the fact that I was a veteran facing deportation and I want to thank them for the support and everything they did,” said Kim.

Kim said he’s looking forward to rebuilding his life and getting back to work. This week will be the first time in eight months that he will reunite with his family in Portland.

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