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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

  • 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)

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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