Kampong Chhnang Provincial officials yesterday said thousands of Vietnamese immigrants renewed their legal immigration status, dismissing rumours circulating online that the immigrants had been provided permanent residency cards.
On Tuesday, local media and Facebook posts prompted confusion among the general public as rumours spread that the thousands of immigrants had acquired permanent residency and were paying property taxes.
Phal Sauth, deputy provincial police chief in charge of the immigration bureau, yesterday dismissed the reports and said that the migrants are required to pay immigration fees to the government.
“They came to pay immigration fees as regulated by the General Department of Immigration,” Mr Sauth said.
Provincial Governor Chhour Chandoeun also disputed the reports, saying that the immigrants weren’t newcomers and had already been registered in the immigration registry in 2002.
Mr Chandoeun noted that any foreign national who failed to renew their immigration documents faces deportation.
“They can request to renew their status every two years,” Mr Chandoeun said. “When permission’s given, they are required to pay about $62 to get their renewed identity card from the Interior Ministry.”
He noted that Facebook users should not quickly believe any news reports. Instead, users should learn about the facts prior to making assumptions.
Immigration was a hot topic during the prelude to last month’s national election. Three political parties last month ran campaigns on a promise to deport illegal migrants. President of Our Motherland Party Chan Bunhorn last month said that the government has not enforced the laws strictly and corruption remains an issue.
“We have the laws, but the enforcement is very poor,” Mr Bunthorn said. “Those who implement the law are poor, so in order to survive, they deal with the problem as a business. The immigration issue is the main cause of social security issues.”
Tep Trou, a representative of the Reaksmey Khemera Party, said he believed immigration negatively affected Cambodian culture.
Mr Trou said that most Cambodian youths tend to forget their own identities and violated the law because of their contact with immigrants.
“Currently, a lot of Vietnamese and Chinese come to Cambodia to invest, some could be legal but others could be illegal,” he said. “Most of them are working illegally because they committed something illegal in their own counties. This could cause a lot of problems in the Kingdom. So, I believe that more or less it would affect Cambodian people in terms of culture and behaviour.”
Since April 2014, when the government established the General Department of Immigration, nationwide statistics show roughly15,000 foreigners from 85 countries have been deported and permanently barred from entry into the Kingdom. Of them, nearly 80 percent were Vietnamese nationals.