In the first week of this year, the government has kept the foreigner census deportations going with the arrest of 38 Vietnamese migrants.
On Monday, immigration officials raided a coffee shop in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district and a barber shop in Phsar Doeumkor. Thirty-one Vietnamese nationals were rounded up and questioned.
Six of the foreign nationals lacked a passport and are being processed for repatriation. Another 25 held only tourist visas that do not allow them to reside permanently in Cambodia, according to Uk Hai Sela, investigations chief at the Immigration Department.
“They have no right to work in Cambodia. We asked the 25 to sign a contract agreeing that after their visas expire, they will have to leave, otherwise, we will deliver them out [of Cambodia],” he said.
Sela reported that officials from the Vietnamese Embassy had also been present to interview the group and oversee the signing of the voluntary repatriation contract.
Last Friday, seven other Vietnamese nationals were arrested in Siem Reap province. The group was transferred to the Interior Ministry in Phnom Penh on Sunday for questioning. The seven were told they lacked documents to become legal immigrants to Cambodia and are now being detained while awaiting deportation, Sela said.
From July 2014 – when the government’s foreigner census began – through the end of the year, 1,243 foreign nationals were arrested as part of the census. More than 80 per cent were Vietnamese.