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Cambodian refugees facing deportation

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
Nearly all the former refugees facing deportation entered the United States as infants. AFP

Asian Law Caucus attorney Kevin Lo yesterday said 45 Cambodian refugees convicted for crimes in the United States are facing deportation.

Mr Lo said the 45 were detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement last month and were flown from the Montgomery Processing Centre in Texas to California.

He noted that all 45 were men and they were interviewed by Cambodian consular officials for travel documents.

“If this raid is like prior ones, we expect ICE to return the detainees to their local detention centres after this week’s interviews end,” Mr Lo said, adding that the Asian Law Caucus is representing some of them. “We don’t know when a deportation flight is scheduled, but based on the past, we would expect around June or July.”

Brendan Raedy, spokesman for ICE, said via an email that there are currently 1,784 non-detained Cambodian nationals with a final order of removal in the US.

“Of whom 1,294 are convicted criminals,” Mr Raedy said. “[Among] 45 Cambodians in ICE detention with a final order of removal, 41 are criminals.”

Bill Herod, spokesman for the Khmer Vulnerability Aid Organisation, yesterday said he has not yet received information on when the next batch of deportees will arrive in the Kingdom.

“As always, we regard these family separations with deepest regret and sympathy,” Mr Herod said. “We hope US law will change and these families can be reunited. Until that time, we are committed to assisting to the best of our ability in the resettlement process in Cambodia.”

Between 1975 and 2000, the US accepted 145,000 Cambodian refugees as part of an influx of Cambodians displaced by war.

The US has since begun deporting many of them convicted of crimes under a deal signed between both governments.

But as the US upped its deportations of Cambodians last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen and the government pushed back, refusing to cooperate with rising deportation as hundreds were being inhumanely displaced from their families.

According to a report by ICE, 110 Cambodians living in the US faced deportation during the 2018 fiscal year, up from 29 during the 2017 fiscal year.

The report noted that US President Donald Trump issued an executive order to enhance public safety in the US, which set forth immigration enforcement and removal priorities.

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