Living without status cambodian returnees coping in their homeland
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Living Without Status: Cambodian Returnees Coping in their Homeland. Boravy Nhim International Relations McNair Scholars Program Caroline Kieu Linh Valverde, PhD. Asian American Studies University of California, Davis. Introduction.

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Living without status cambodian returnees coping in their homeland l.jpg

Living Without Status: Cambodian Returnees Coping in their Homeland

Boravy Nhim

International Relations

McNair Scholars Program

Caroline Kieu Linh Valverde, PhD.

Asian American Studies

University of California, Davis


Introduction l.jpg
Introduction Homeland

  • As of March 2002, the U.S. has been deporting Cambodian refugees that have committed aggravated felonies during their stay in the U.S.

  • The U.S. historically has never systematically repatriated any refugee back to a communist dominant country

  • The refugees being returned to Cambodia are Americanized, most having lived here a majority of their lives


Why are cambodians even here l.jpg
Why are Cambodians even here? Homeland

  • During Khmer Rouge occupation in 1975 Cambodians witnessed the genocide of their own people, widespread destruction of their homes, cities, and institutions.


Why provide assistance l.jpg
Why provide assistance? Homeland

  • 1980 Refugee Act

  • United States moral obligation Cambodian refugees

    • Experiences distinguishes them from that of immigrants

    • “The underlying policies of why the United States admits refugees differ from those that underlie admission of immigrants” (Hing, 2005)

    • U.S. created the current plight of these Cambodian refugees due to the lack of sufficient support provided for these refugees to adjust to living and surviving in America


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Background Information Homeland

  • The U.S. was not equipped to adequately resettle Cambodian refugees

    • Refugees not provided appropriate adjustment services

    • Cambodians resettled in crime-infested ghettos

  • No matter how long ago the crime was committed or time already served, refugees are continually being held for deportation


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Present-Day Cambodia Homeland

  • One of the poorest countries in the world

    • Average Cambodian earns $280/year

    • 81% Cambodians live below poverty line

  • HIV/AIDS epidemic

  • Government in transition to Democracy

    • High corruption and violence

    • No legitimate institutions

    • Lack of organization

    • Lack of trust in government


In one weeks time l.jpg
In One Weeks Time… Homeland

  • JULY 18: Chhai Chhen, 33, was found dead at 6 a.m. in Prey Treng village, Prey Veng province. Police said that Chhen was murdered with an ax while walking on the way to Svay Antor market where he planned to buy a bicycle for his son.

  • JULY 19: Har Dor, 25, ran away after killing his brother-in-law, Touch Leang, 45, in the afternoon in Teuk Lang 2 village, Kampong Speu province.

  • JULY 24: Mang Mao, 43, escaped after killing his brother-in-law, Nha Chhai, 36, at around 7 p.m. in Cheach Choeung village, Kampong Cham province. Police said Mao killed Chhai with a heavy knife then cut his head off during the attack. Police said Mao was angry because the battery charger he was trying to fix with Chhai was not working.


Hypothesis l.jpg
Hypothesis Homeland

  • Without an efficient assistance program in place, returnees will remain reliant on family in the United States for financial support.

  • Offering reliable work opportunities will be helpful for these returnees to resume productive lifestyles and ease the transition and acceptance of living in Cambodia.


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Research Methods Homeland

  • Three Returnees interviewed and observed

    • Ages (1) 19, (2) 26, and (3) 30

    • (1) Deported 11 months, (2) 5 month ago

    • Crimes all gang-related

  • Observed for 5 days

    • Work, Home, Leisure

  • Interviews analyzed for coping strategies and intercultural relations

    • Emotions: home sickness, depression, hostility, fear


Results findings l.jpg
Results/Findings Homeland

  • Subjects struggle with integrating into Cambodian society

    • Lack of desire to completely assimilate into culture

    • Cambodian community reluctant to accept returnees

      • Views returned Cambodians as foreigners or Anik-ka-chorn

  • Returnees working together for overall survival

    • Cambodian Harm Reduction Collaborative

      • Program targets returnees for employment and volunteerism

    • In circumstances when returnees are not paid for work, they take care of each other financially

      • Alternative funds include financial support from families abroad and financial assistance from the RAP


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Summary of Results Homeland

  • Returnees accept life in Cambodia but Cambodians are reluctant to accept them

  • Returnees still reliant on family in the U.S. for financial support

  • Subjects needed adjustment services to help aid them in resettlement but did not receive any

    • Further deportations on suspension in part to develop appropriate and useful adjustment services


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Conclusion Homeland

  • Returnees need to be provided with services to address issues of adjustment in Cambodia that clearly were not addressed upon their own resettlement into the United States.

  • Both governments are shortchanging these refugees again by not having in place appropriate adjustment programs needed for these individuals to adapt in a developing country like Cambodia.

  • In order for them to lead productive lives and become independent of their family in the U.S., they need the appropriate assistance to get them off their feet.


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Next Steps Homeland

  • Under what circumstances will the government resume deportations?

    • When and how?

  • Follow-up on RAP program

    • What services will be provided for new returnees?

      • USAID looking for new coordinator to fill Bill Herod position

      • How does the new coordinator intend to resolve issues of the previous program?

  • Follow-up on relationship with CHRC and USAID

  • Immigration and Refugee Policy Research


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References Homeland

  • Hing, Bill Ong. “Deporting Cambodian Refugees: Justice Denied?” Crime and Delinquency, Vol. 51, No. 2 265-290 (2005)

  • Hing, Bill Ong. “Detention to Deportation – Rethinking the Removal of Cambodian Refugees.” UC Davis Law Review, Vol. 38. 2005.

  • http://www.fedgrants.gov/Applicants/AID/OM/CAM/SS-01/Grant.html July 28, 2005

  • Weaver, Gary ed. Culture, Communication and Conflict. Readings in Intercultural Relations. Needham Heights, MA. Simon & Schuster Publishing: 1998.

  • Personal Interview. June 24, 2005. Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

  • Sherman, Leonie. “Returnees Shortchanged by Project.” Phnom Penh Post. Volume 14 Issue 14, July 15 - 28, 2005


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Acknowledgements Homeland

  • I would like to thank the following people for their time and effort they have given me throughout the year for my research:

    • Ronald E. McNair Scholars Research Program

    • Caroline Kieu Linh Valverde, PhD

    • Bill Ong Hing, JD.

    • Isao Fujimoto, MA.

    • Diane Jones, MURALS Coordinator

    • Ray Shiraishi

    • My mother for all her help (and connections)


Living without status cambodian returnees coping in their homeland16 l.jpg

Living Without Status: Cambodian Returnees Coping in their Homeland

Boravy Nhim

International Relations

McNair Scholars Program

Caroline Kieu Linh Valverde, PhD.

Asian American Studies

University of California, Davis