Two Vietnamese Deported as Census Continues

Police in Ratanakkiri deported two more Vietnamese nationals living illegally in the northern province last week, bringing the number of expulsions to 14 as the Ministry of Interior’s census of foreigners continues, police said.

“We sent two more illegal Vietnamese immigrants back to Vietnam on Thursday,” said Chea Bunthoeun, the deputy provincial police chief. “Between August 15 and now, we have sent a total of 14 back to Vietnam.”

This year’s census—which is now complete in Ratanakkiri, according to officials there—shows only 59 more Vietnamese families living in the province than were identified in the 2002 census, Mr. Bunthoeun said.

Mr. Bunthoeun also claimed police have, since 2009, routinely deported Vietnamese nationals illegally living in Ratanakkiri.

“Every year, from 2009 to 2013, between 20 and 30 illegal Vietnamese have been sent back,” he said.

In Stung Treng province, where the census is also finished, the number of Vietnamese families decreased, from nearly 300 in 2002 to 285 this year.

Seng Vutha, deputy provincial police chief, said local authorities were waiting on orders from national-level officials before deporting any families living in the province illegally.

“We are waiting for a decision from our superiors regarding what kind of foreigners we should deport and which ones can stay,” he said.

In January, the Interior Ministry created a general department of immigration, appointing then-Deputy National Police Commander Sok Phal as director.

Gen. Phal said Tuesday that seven or eight provinces have now been surveyed, but results will only be released once the census has been completed.

Officials say the new census—and resulting deportations of Vietnamese nationals—is part of a joint effort by the interior and labor ministries to enforce a long-neglected law that requires foreigners living in Cambodia to hold, and pay for, work permits.

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