PHNOM PENH     -   Thirty-seven Cambodian immigrants deported from the United States arrived in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh on Thursday, a senior police official said on Friday.

“Thirty-seven Cambodian immigrants, including a woman, arrived at the Phnom Penh International Airport this morning (July 4),” the official at the Interior Ministry’s General Identification Department told Xinhua and asked not to be named. He said some of the deportees were convicted criminals in the United States and had already served their prison sentences there before being sent back to Cambodia, and others were deported for a violation of the U.S. immigration law.

The official said to date, almost 700 Cambodian immigrants have been deported from the United States, many of whom can not even speak the Cambodian language.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a statement on Wednesday, saying that 37 Cambodian nationals, most of whom were convicted criminals, were repatriated to Cambodia in accordance with their final removal orders after immigration court proceedings.

Cambodia and the United States signed a deportation agreement in 2002 under which Cambodians who are permanent residents of the United States will be deported to Cambodia if they are convicted of a felony.