The US on Tuesday deported five men to Cambodia, with another 25 expected to follow, a senior diplomat said.
The deportations are the result of an immigration law that sends convicted felons back to their home countries. The US has expelled more than 200 Cambodians under the law since 2001, when Cambodia signed an agreement to take back deportees.
However, many of them had never been to Cambodia and had grown up as children of immigrants from the Khmer Rouge era.
The five men—Kol Ly Hov, Mem Meanrith, Kong Chantha, Kim Thet and Sim Loeurt—left by special plane and are expected to arrive in Cambodia by Sept. 2, Cambodia's ambassador to the US, Hem Heng, told VOA Khmer.
“They came to a developed country and should not have committed criminal acts or wrongdoing,” the ambassador said.
However, some development experts worry about the effects of deportation on men who have lived most of their lives in the US.
Some do not speak Khmer, or have no relatives or job opportunities when they arrive in Cambodia, said Kloeung Aun, executive director of the Returnee Integration Support Center, which is based in Cambodia.
Deportees may know nothing of Cambodian culture and may be split from their families back home, he said.