In 2018, according to KVAO, 126 Cambodian-American refugees arrived in Phnom Penh. The trend continued this year: last month, a flight of 37 deportees, mostly refugees, arrived. William Herod, spokesman for the KVAO, which has been working with the deportee community since 2002, said ICE was planning 200 deportations a year. The United States was less and less imitating. The number of U.S. prisons decreased after the violent crime control law and the enforcement law were passed in 1994. A 1996 law expanded the list of crimes for which non-citizens could be deported and made them more difficult to combat. Prior to 2002, those ordered to return to Cambodia remained in the United States. But after the agreement signed this year, they flocked to Cambodia, where many family members, who were not fluent in the Khmer language and were struggling to find work. Until recently, many distant relatives had to hunt down or pay bribes to obtain the Cambodian identity card needed to take a job or open a bank account.
While asylum seekers face dementia at the U.S.-Mexico border, the case of Cambodian Americans like Nak reminds us that the United States has also turned its back on those it once offered. In 2002, Washington and Phnom Penh signed an agreement stipulating that Cambodia would accept repatriation. This policy has been used to deport Cambodian Americans for previous criminal convictions, some dating back decades. Since then, the United States has deported at least 998 people to Cambodia, according to ICE data compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse and other sources. The number of deportees has also been fuelled by the Trump administration`s crackdown on illegal immigration in general. In fiscal 2018, according to an ICE report, tens of thousands of other immigrants were arrested and deported through enforcement and deportation operations by immigration and customs authorities, which focus on immigrants who lived in the country compared to fiscal 2016. The agreement failed last year, leading the Trump administration to impose visa sanctions on some Cambodian officials and families. The two governments finally reached a new agreement in early 2018 and Phnom Penh began welcoming Cambodian nationals, this time even more numerous than before. The Asian Law Caucus also helped two deportees return to the United States after legal developments impacted their business. One came back following v sessions.