Ahead of Trump Presidency, Mixed Feelings in Cambodian America

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Cambodian community in Atlanta has struggled with high unemployment and low access to education and healthcare.

Cambodian-Americans have expressed hopes that President-elect Donald Trump can address their economic and social concerns and strengthen US foreign policy towards Phnom Penh.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has voiced his approval at Trumps victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, along with a number of other authoritarian world leaders, prompting analysts to worry that a Trump presidency could reshape foreign policy to downplay human rights concerns.

Nem Chhoeung, president of the Khmer Town Association in Atlanta, GA, said he was concerned, “especially for minority groups like ours.”

“We are concerned about more deportation of immigrants, because he seems to be tough on that,” he said.

FILE - More than 120 people gathered in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office to petition to allow eight Cambodian American who are facing deportation to stay with their family in Minnesota, on Monday, September 26, 2016. (Courtesy of IKARE)

The real estate billionaire stunned many in the US by comprehensively defeating his opponent in an election that also saw the Republicans win control of the Senate and Congress.

“Another concern is that Trump’s party controls the White House, House of Representatives, and the Senate, therefore if Trump has good intentions, then we are happy, if not, then we are concerned,” Chhoeung added.

The Cambodian community in Atlanta has struggled with high unemployment and low access to education and healthcare.

Navann Cheth, a community activist from Long Beach, CA, hoped that Trump could do more to help the Cambodian-American community in the United States, “because he is a Republican so he can help Cambodia.”

Trump won at least 290 electoral college votes, according to the latest counts, with only 270 needed to secure the presidency.

Kompha Seth, secretary of the National Cambodian American Organization, from Chicago, IL, voted for Trump, believing his lack of experience of Washington could actually be a benefit.

“At least we hope that he is a new person with no experience in the government because people are tired of the current US government,” he said. “They are tired of seeing the same faces and that Washington does not represent the real voices of the people. The election results simply reflected that.”

A longtime Republican, San Oeun, of Richmond, VA, switched to the Clinton camp this time round.

“I’m not disappointed with the election results because I know that they will lead the country in the same direction,” Oeun said.