More US Deportees Coming

About 22 Cambodians from Se­attle, in the US state of Washing­ton, are set to be deported to Cam­­­bo­dia soon, the executive di­rector of the Khmer Community of Se­attle/King County said Tues­day.

Lyvan Sawn, whose organization works to help Cambodian im­migrants in Washington, said he did not know the exact date of the deportations. US Embassy officials could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Lyvan Sawn is in Phnom Penh to meet with the six Cambodians deported recently from the US, as well as with government officials. He said Cambodians in Washing­ton are gravely concerned with the situation of the six deportees.

“The Seattle community feels the deportation is unfair,” Lyvan Sawn said. “These young men grew up in the US—they know very little about Cambodia and some do not have family in Cam­bo­dia.”

The six Cambodians were de­ported from several US locations in June and are the first group to be repatriated under an agreement signed between Cambodia and the US in March. The agreement allows the US to return to Cambodia any Cambodians convicted of aggravated felonies who have served their sentences and are not US citizens.

The agreement could affect an estimated 1,400 Cambodians in the US and about 60 in the Seattle area, Lyvan Sawn said.

Lyvan Sawn said that while the initial fears that the deportees would be imprisoned or tortured by the Cambodian government have not been realized, the deportees now face immediate problems, such as readjusting to a new culture and finding jobs.

“In the US, immigrants have access to government services such as employment programs, wel­fare programs or language classes,” he said. “Does the Cam­bodian government offer them any language classes? No. Does the government help them with finding employment? No.”

Although Lyvan Sawn said he would meet with Cambodian officials to discuss the deportee situation, he said no appointments had been scheduled and could not provide the names of any officials he hoped to meet.


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