Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
ICE removes 37 cambodian nationals at ICE air operations flight from dallas texas to cambodia on july 2019. ICE

First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

Twenty-five Cambodian-Americans landed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, marking the first such deportations of the year.

“On Wednesday, US law enforcement authorities deported 25 Cambodian nationals that immigration judges determined had no legal basis to remain in the US,” said Arend Zwartjes, spokesperson for the US embassy in Phnom Penh.

Khmer Vulnerability Aid Organisation (KVAO) spokesman Bill Herod told The Post on Thursday that the 25 men – aged between 33 and 60 – arrived in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. His NGO was now assisting them in their resettlement.

He said the latest deportations brought the total number of deportees from the US to 768, having arrived in Cambodia through the KVAO programme since 2002.

He said only two deportees had returned to the US as a result of legal technicalities.

“KVAO assists to resettle these individuals by providing free food and housing during the initial adjustment period, securing needed documentation and providing basic cultural orientation, as well as counselling and assistance in finding employment,” Herod said.

KVAO also assisted with needed referrals for healthcare and provided legal monitoring and cooperation with US-based attorneys working on continuing legal issues, he said.

Prok May Oudom, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Identification, which deals with receiving deportees, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Last October, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn met with US Ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy and requested an amendment to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) that would allow the deportees to be reunited with their families on humanitarian grounds.

“Our request to amend the MoU regarding the deportation of Cambodians seems to have made no progress,” said Koy Kuong, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Zwartjes of the US Embassy did not wish to elaborate on the progress of the Cambodian request.

The US Department of Immigration and Customs said 1,900 Cambodian-Americans living in the US had been served deportation warrants, 1,400 of whom had been convicted of various crimes.

Chak Sopheap, the executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said deportees faced serious challenges.

“For many of the Cambodian deportees arriving from the US, this is the first time they are setting foot in the Kingdom. Many of them were not born here, having fled to the US as refugees from Thai camps during the Khmer Rouge period.

“Others who were born here return for the first time in many decades. In both cases, deportees understandably do not fully identify with Khmer culture.

“The result is that they face a serious risk of failing to assimilate, falling into poverty and suffering severe mental health repercussions.

She said that those who had spent time in jail after committing crimes were being further penalised.

“In some cases, individuals being returned to Cambodia have already served time in prison for the crimes they committed in the US.

“In these instances, separation from their families and deportation back to a country where they do not share the language or culture serves as a double punishment.

“It is vital that civil society continues to keep this issue on the agenda, assist deportees, and advocate for fairer immigration policies,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the