43 Cambodians convicted of felonies repatriated from US

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Forty-three Cambodians have arrived in the capital Phnom Penh after being deported from the United States under a law allowing the repatriation of immigrants who have committed felony crimes and have not become U.S. citizens.

The group that arrived Thursday is the largest to be sent to Cambodia under a 2001 bilateral agreement. More than 500 other Cambodians have already repatriated.

The program is controversial because it breaks up families and in some cases, returnees have never lived in Cambodia, having been refugees or children of refugees who fled to camps in Thailand to escape the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime that ruled Cambodia from 1975-79.

Two Cambodians ex-convicts on March 30 received pardons from California Governor Jerry Brown, at least temporarily removing the risk they might be deported.

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