Cambodian Deportees Return to a ‘Home’ They’ve Never Known

Phnom Penh – Thuch Sek’s skin is an ink-filled canvas, his Cambodian heritage and American life woven across his back and down his limbs. THUG LIFE marks his right forearm; a misspelled tattoo extolling KHEMER PRIDE blankets his muscled shoulder blades. The 39-year-old was born in a Thai refugee camp to parents fleeing the Khmer Rouge, the brutal regime that in the late 1970s killed nearly a quarter of Cambodia’s population; at the age of 2, he resettled with his family in Philadelphia.

Until last month, he had never set foot in Cambodia. Then the United States deported him here, to his “home.”

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