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Thirty-seven years after fleeing a humanitarian crisis in his homeland of Cambodia, Rochester resident and business owner David Lee is struggling to keep his family together as his wife, Ky, faces possible deportation after being in the country and married to David for more than a decade.
"I'm not sure what will happen," Lee said about his wife's hearing this May before a federal immigration judge in Detroit. "I'm hearing that they will go after all people they can deport, so now people can be living in fear.
"She didn't enter illegally. The situation is that her previous marriage didn't work, so the government is alleging it was a sham. Now we are trying to prove it wasn't. It's a defining moment."
Both David and Ky are regular fixtures in downtown Rochester, where they own and have operated Knapp's Donuts together since they were married in 2005.
On Monday, April 10, the Rochester City Council passed a resolution supporting the Lees in their ongoing immigration matter regarding Ky.
"The City of Rochester views Knapp's Donuts as an integral part of our community, and the Lees have shown good moral character and outstanding service for the City of Rochester," the resolution states. "And, if the Lee family were to no longer operate Knapp's Donuts, the impact to the city would be negative and there would be a void on our Main Street... the City of Rochester considers the Lees valued members of our community, both because of their contributions to downtown Rochester and as residents in neighboring Rochester Hills, Michigan."
David has owned the longstanding donut shop since 1996, but it wasn't until about 2000 that Ky came to the United States from Cambodia on a temporary visa. Ky and David married five years later, after her first marriage ended.
Lee said the couple submitted their first application in 2005 for Ky to stay in America. However, about three years later, they were informed the initial application was rejected. David said they appealed the decision to a federal immigration judge, but the case has been stalled for nearly nine years, as the immigration court cancelled or failed to reschedule hearings.
"During President Obama's administration, it kept getting delayed. It didn't seem like they were spending a lot effort on the case. They didn't dismiss it, but at the same time, there wasn't a hearing scheduled either," Lee said. "We have just law-abiding people who pay taxes. To be honest, I don't know what is going to happen.
"How they could split up my family – you read about it happening, and then you realize it's happening to you. I don't believe they would. I'm hoping and trying to keep a positive attitude."...continued on page 2