US to Deport Cambodians This Month

A group of Cambodians facing deportation by the U.S. have been told they will be sent to Cambodia by the end of the month, although one has been  granted another opportunity to plead his case, a U.S.-based advocacy organization said.

The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center announced on Friday that seven of the “Minnesota 8” had been transferred to a detention center in Arizona and told that they would be deported before the end of the month.

One of those, Chamroeun Phan, 34, was granted an emergency stay of removal on Saturday, which postpones his deportation so he can plead his case for staying in the country, according to the center and Mr. Phan’s sister.

Montha Chum said her brother was detained by U.S. immigration authorities in August over a 2009 conviction related to property damage. “He made a dumb mistake…while he was younger, which was out of character for him,” she said in an email on Monday.

Mr. Phan has never been to Cambodia. He was born in a Thai refugee camp after the fall of the Khmer Rouge and has lived in the U.S. since 1984, Ms. Chum said.

“He is married to a U.S. citizen…and just missed his daughter’s 5th birthday,” she added.

A 2002 U.S.-Cambodia repatriation agreement, which Phnom Penh wants to revise, allows for the deportation of Cambodians who have been convicted of a felony in the U.S.

Kem Sarin, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry’s immigration department, said that he was unaware of the U.S. plans to deport the group this month.

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