News/US: US judge delays deportation of Thai boy two more weeks

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Subject: News/US: US judge delays deportation of Thai boy two more weeks
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Thu May 25 2000 - 13:32:18 EDT


US judge delays deportation of Thai boy two more weeks
Agence France Presse, May 24, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AFP) -- A federal judge has delayed an additional two weeks
the deportation of a two-year-old Thai boy brought illegally to the United
States as a decoy for a human smuggling network, sources close to the case
said.

"We don't want the child to be removed until his health and his welfare are
really taken care of in a long term basis," a spokeswoman for the US-based
Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking told reporters here Tuesday.

"We want his medical situation to be evaluated and we also want the
grandparents' suitability to be assessed," Hae Jung Cho added.

The boy, Phanupong Khisri, has an ear infection and other health problems
that require medical attention, she added.

Phanupong arrived in Los Angeles on April 11 with a Chinese woman and an
Indonesian man. Authorities believe the woman had paid her traveling
companion to smuggle her into the country and was using the boy as a prop
to create an illusion they were a happy family arriving for vacation.

US authorities detained the boy and sent the adults back to Thailand, where
they were fined and deported to their countries of origin.

Thai police said the boy's mother told them she knew the man and said she
could face charges if they find she sold her son to a smuggling syndicate.

Phanupong's paternal grandparents, arrived here Monday to take the child
home. They presented US authorities all the documents necessary to legally
adopt him in Thailand.

A federal judge, however, turned down a petition to allow the boy to live
with his grandparents at the home of the Thai consul here, while his case
is being processed.

The judge also extended an existing order delaying Phanupong's deportation
until July 7.

An initial order to the US Immigration and Naturalization Service to delay
the boy's deportation was issued two weeks ago, after the Thai-American
community argued that the boy could again end up in criminal hands if he
were repatriated.

Phanupong at present is being cared for by a social worker from the
Thai-American community here.

"The judge thought it was suitable for the child to remain with the social
worker pending some type of transition plan, the assessment of the
grandparents," Hae said

Melanie Orhant <<morhant@igc.org>>
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