Workshop Raid Nets Illegal Vietnamese Immigrants

Police in Stung Treng province on Tuesday raided more than a dozen furniture manufacturing businesses where they arrested 68 Vietnamese nationals living in the country illegally, as part of an ongoing census of foreigners, an immigration official said Wednesday.

Uk Heisela, chief of investigations at the Interior Ministry’s immigration department, said his department cooperated with provincial immigration officers to make the arrests at 15 separate wooden-furniture workshops in the northern province at about 3:50 p.m. Tuesday.

“Our forces had to arrest these people because they crossed the border illegally to enter Cambodia,” Major General Heisela said. “When we checked, we found [they had] no documents and none of them could speak Khmer. They only had Vietnamese identity cards.”

Maj. Gen. Heisela said authorities had been monitoring the locations for the past three weeks.

The Cambodian owners of the businesses were not detained, he said, but made to sign contracts agreeing not to employ illegal immigrants again.

“We did not arrest the Khmer owners of the timber furniture businesses because it was the first time we have taken action in this province, but we ordered them to sign a contract to stop illegal workers from working for them again,” Maj. Gen. Heisela said.

“If they do not abide by the contract, we will take action,” he said.

The 68 Vietnamese, only four of whom were women, were sent to the immigration department headquarters in Phnom Penh on Wednesday and will be sent to their home country next week, he said, adding that the Vietnamese Embassy was informed of the arrests.

According to Maj. Gen. Heisela, more than 700 foreigners from 21 countries—including more than 500 Vietnamese—have now been arrested as part of the census, which began in July.

Stung Treng immigration police chief La Dina could not be reached Wednesday.

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