Cambodia offers ethnic Vietnamese short-term residency in migrant crackdown reprieve

Cambodian officials have promised to grant two-year residency cards to some Vietnamese immigrants currently facing deportation to Vietnam where they have no legal status either. Officials said on Monday that they plan to issue the short-term documents to people of Vietnamese origin who can prove they arrived in Cambodia before 2012. There will be an application process but most people are likely to pass, officials said, as cited by the Phnom Penh Post. Around 70,000 people of Vietnamese origin live in Cambodia, and most were born there after their parents and grandparents migrated during the war. A drive to revoke their Cambodian documents, which were deemed “improperly issued”, has rendered many of them stateless, as they have no Vietnamese citizenship either. Nouv Leakhena, deputy head of the Immigration Department at Cambodia’s Interior Ministry, said the government recognized that many ethnic Vietnamese have lived in Cambodia for up to 30 years, some since before the Khmer Rouge regime. “Immigration officials cannot be nationalistic,” he said, as cited in the report. People of Vietnamese origin who are granted residency may apply for citizenship after seven years. Cambodian immigration officials said they arrested and deported more than 1,880 illegal immigrants last year, the vast majority of whom were Vietnamese and Chinese. Cambodia’s move against the Vietnamese community has raised concerns from the Vietnamese government. Vietnam’s foreign ministry last November asked Cambodia to provide favorable conditions and guarantee legal rights for the community. Migrant rights experts also said Cambodia should offer more help. Lyma… [Read full story]

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