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Abstract

In 2002, the oldest Khmer (Cambodian) American community organization in Massachusetts, the Cambodian Community of Massachusetts (CCM), closed its doors to constituents in the state’s North Shore metro region, where the adjacent gateway cities of Lynn and Revere were home to the country’s fifth-largest concentration of Cambodian Americans, according to the 2000 Census. Founded by Cambodian refugees and their supporters in 1981 as one of the first-generation mutual assistance associations encouraged by the federal Office for Refugee Resettlement, CCM had operate as an ethnic-based, multiservice agency that helped survivors of war and trauma in Cambodia to adjust to U.S. society by providing counseling, job and housing referrals, ESL instruction and translation, and other human services. Few program planners, policy makers, or funders, however, recognized the full spectrum of challenges faced by Khmer refugees during their initial resettlement twenty-plus years ago, and the ways that issues of forced migration, displacement, and contested citizenship status would continue for this vulnerable population more than a generation later.

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