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What You Need To Know Today: Restoration After Deportation, LA Students' Test Scores, Picking Winners For The Emmy Awards

A woman of Asian descent wearing glasses leads a meeting. She stands in front of a projector screen and next to a table where four men are seated.
After being deported to Cambodia, Sophea Phea joined a group called 1Love that advocated for deportees' right to return to the U.S.
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Monday, September 12. 

Today in How to LA: Explore the story of one Cambodian’s journey back home to Long Beach after deportation, port workers fight back against the robots, who should win at the Emmy Awards tonight?

What a weird weather weekend! On Saturday, I took advantage of the not-so-sunshiny day and walked down the Long Beach Pier. It was nice to get out and feel the cool breeze and slight sprinkle of rain hit my face.

Speaking of Long Beach, did you know the coastal city has the largest Cambodian community in the United States? That’s what I learned from my colleague Josie Huang’s latest story about a 40-year-old Cambodian woman who was raised in Long Beach and is just now returning home again, 11 years after being deported.

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Sophea Phea (which is her pseudonym in the story) was deported for credit card fraud she committed in her 20s and is now one of a handful of deportees allowed to return to the U.S. – the first to be able to due to a pardon by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Phea settled with her family in the U.S. after her mother fled the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. Phea was raised in Fresno and Long Beach. Brandy was on her childhood soundtrack. But she nor her mother applied for citizenship, which would have protected her from deportation. Though Phea served time in prison for her credit card crime, she was put on a track for deportation. Ten years earlier, President Bill Clinton signed the Illegal Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which swept up many non-citizens, often in poor, high-crime neighborhoods into a deportation pipeline.

Phea was sent back to a country where she had never lived, and she fought to come back. Josie says her story of returning home has made advocates for those facing deportation want to double their efforts to bring more deportees back to the U.S. “It has given folks a sense of what it means to fight for the long term,” said Nancy Nguyen, campaign director of the Southeast Asian Freedom Network, which supports people facing deportation to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. “She's the first, but she won't be the last. That's what we're pushing for.”

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Phea’s story is one of redemption, restoration and renewal, one that includes a fresh start and her desire to advocate for deportees. 

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

The News You Need After You Stop Hitting Snooze

*At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding! 

  • If you’re anything like me, seeing a robot-centered future in the workforce gives me the complete heebie-jeebies (Remember the Will Smith film I, Robot? Or even Black Mirror’s Metalhead episode?). Well, dockworkers in Los Angeles and Long Beach fear the robots will steal jobs, and they’re fighting the increase of automation at the busy ports in current contract negotiations.
  • Officials with the Los Angeles Unified School  District warned of a drop in student standardized test scores due to pandemic interruptions. And well, their predictions were right. Fewer LAUSD students met or exceeded state standards this year compared to 2019. 
  • LAUSD teachers and parents worry about another cyber attack like the one over Labor Day holiday weekend. Findings from a 2020 cybersecurity audit reveal that the district's poor password management was an issue. 
  • Usually when you hear of a Trojan fight, you’re most likely to think of sports rivalry, but this time, two big-name Trojans  — who just so happen to be vying for L.A.’s mayoral seat (Yep, you guessed it Rep. Karen Bass and Rick Caruso) — are swording it out scandal versus scandal with their alma mater right in the middle of it. (Los Angeles Times)
  • El Segundo declared a “state of emergency” and will move towards a plan to sue the city of Los Angeles over lingering odor and air quality issues following a sewage spill in July 2021. The Hyperion facility broke and discharged 17 million gallons of raw sewage into the water.
  • The Fairview Fire that started on Sept. 5 is expected to be contained today, thanks to higher humidity and rain. The wildfire spread rapidly in the Hemet area, killing two people and injuring four others.

Wait! One More Thing...The Top Three Tea-Sipping Trends

A photo of the golden Emmy award with a dark background.
For the first time since 2019, the 74th Emmy Awards will be held at the Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live.
(Kevork Djansezian
Getty Images North America)
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THREE - Carnegie Mellon University Professor Uju Anya explains her personal reasons for not mourning Queen Elizabeth II in viral tweets; Carnegie Mellon releases a statement that some feel opens Anya to attacks. 

To some, the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is a somber end of an era. But to many, especially those who come from countries colonized by Britain, it’s a time to reflect on life under colonial rule, marked by centuries of violence and genocide.

In a tweet since deleted from Twitter for rule violations, Professor Uju Anya wished the Queen an excruciating death, then followed up with a tweet explaining what her family experienced at the hands of the monarch and the government. She told NBC News about Britain’s role in the pain her family suffered during the Nigerian civil war, leaving her family displaced and some relatives killed. 

Escalating the controversy, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos quote-tweeted Professor Anya, criticizing her statement. Then Carnegie Mellon released a statement of condemnation over Anya’s tweets, which some characterized as “troubling” (especially sinceAmazon donates millionsto Carnegie Mellon and may not want to lose Bezos as a partner).

TWO - The Primetime Emmys will be filmed at the Microsoft Theater in L.A. 

Not only is the NFL back, but tonight all of the hottest stars will be at the Microsoft Theater for the 74th Emmy Awards. This is the first time since the pandemic that the Emmys has taken place at the theater. It’s a tough race in many categories. For me, I’m definitely checking out the outstanding comedy series category to see how Abbott Elementary, Only Murders in the Building and Ted Lasso do. I would tell you who *I think should win, but I’m not a TV critic. NPR’s Eric Deggans (who also went to my alma mater!) is though. In his latest analysis, he writes about who should win, in what he calls The Deggys. 

ONE - The Little Mermaid Trailer is Out. 

I don’t know about you, but I am so stoked to see Beyoncé’s protege Halle Bailey on the big screen as Ariel in Disney’s live action version of The Little Mermaid. The first look at the film — a two-minute trailer — dropped Friday and had everyone talking all weekend. Though many people are excited to hear Bailey belt out “Part of Your World”, she’s had to endure a lot of racist comments after being cast in this role. When the film opens in theaters in May of 2023, Bailey will be the second Black princess in Disney’s history. This moment is huge for Disney and for little girls everywhere.

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