More than 40 Cambodians who have been convicted of crimes in the United States were deported and will arrive at Phnom Penh International Airport today.
According to General Department of Immigration spokesman Keo Vanthan, there are 43 people being deported to Cambodia.
“The final information is that 43 people, including three women, will arrive tomorrow,” he said.
However, 1Love Cambodia, an advocacy group for deportees, posted on its Facebook page on Tuesday that the US was deporting 51 Cambodians, the largest group since deportations began.
“We’ve been informed that contrary to US agreements, this group includes people with chronic mental and physical conditions that will require our community’s unwavering support,” the group said.
From 1975 until the end of the 20th century, more than 145,000 Cambodian refugees were accepted into the US, along with 42,000 non-refugees, part of an influx of Southeast Asians displaced by war.
Cambodian refugees entered the US having suffered extensive psychological trauma. Most arrived in American cities at the peak of the cocaine epidemic and, predictably, on the wrong side of the law.
According to an annual report by the General Department of Immigration released in February, Cambodia has continued to cooperate with the US on the repatriation of convicted Cambodians set for deportation.
“So far, 572 Cambodian citizens have been repatriated,” the report said.
Cambodia and the US signed a memorandum of understanding on the Repatriations Agreement in 2002, but cooperation seemed to stall last year as the two countries traded diplomatic barbs following the arrest of former CNRP leader Kem Sokha and the dissolution of the party.
On Friday, California Governor Jerry Brown pardoned two Cambodians who faced deportation to Cambodia.
The two were Sokha Chhan, who came to the US at the age of 13 to escape the Khmer Rouge regime and has lived there for 35 years, and Phann Pheach, who was born in a Thai refugee camp and came to the US at the age of 1.