“The Trump administration is resuming its efforts to deport certain protected Vietnamese immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades—many of them having fled the country during the Vietnam War.”
The Trump administration has reinterpreted the 2008 agreement between the United States and Vietnam in such a way that it will allow them to deport many Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before 1995.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi told The Atlantic that the administration has unilaterally reinterpreted the agreement that had been signed by George W. Bush administration. The U.S. State Department later confirmed that this was true.
The agreement between Vietnam and the U.S. prohibited the deportation of Vietnamese people who arrived in the country before 1995. That was the year when both countries re-established diplomatic relations, which had been suspended because of the Vietnam War.
The State Department said that the position of the Trump administration is that those immigrants who arrived before 1995 are now eligible for deportation if the government has a reason to begin such deportation procedures.
“While the procedures associated with this specific agreement do not apply to Vietnamese citizens who arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995, it does not explicitly preclude the removal of pre-1995 cases,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement.
The State Department did not say whether the change to the 2008 agreement was made in consultation with the Vietnamese government.
A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees deportation cases, said that there are “7,000 convicted criminal aliens from Vietnam with final orders of removal.”
“These are non-citizens who during previous administrations were arrested, convicted, and ultimately ordered removed by a federal immigration judge. It’s a priority of this administration to remove criminal aliens to their home country,” DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman said.
The 2008 agreement reached between the U.S. and Vietnam previously stated that Vietnamese citizens are “not subject to return to Vietnam” if they “arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995.”
It was announced earlier this year that the Trump administration was making eligible for deportation thousands of Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before 1995. Ted Osius, the former U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, cited the “small number” already deported as a reason for his resignation announced earlier this year.
“These people don’t really have a country to come back to,” he said in April.
The Atlantic reports that DHS officials recently met with Vietnamese Embassy officials in Washington, but the content of their discussions was unknown.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.