Little Saigon livid over Trump plan to deport Vietnamese

By Hanh Pham   December 17, 2018 | 03:08 pm GMT+7
Little Saigon livid over Trump plan to deport Vietnamese
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a Make America Great Again rally in Richmond, Kentucky, U.S., October 13, 2018. Photo by Reuters/Joshua Roberts
‘Shameless, immoral, inhuman’: Vietnamese Americans are protesting President Trump's push to deport thousands of Vietnamese immigrants.

Protesters took over the streets of Little Saigon in Orange County, California last Saturday, rallying against the Trump administration's push to deport thousands of Vietnamese immigrants, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Hundreds of people carried signs saying, "We stay together," "Protect the Vietnamese community," and "Deporting Vietnam war refugees is shameful, immoral, inhuman."

The protestors said they aimed to raise awareness of the growing concern that the latest push by the Trump administration would separate families.

Rally organizers said representatives from the U.S. and Vietnam met in Washington last week to talk about the re-interpreting of an agreement the two countries signed in 2008 under President George W. Bush. According to the pact, no Vietnamese immigrants who came to the U.S. before July 12, 1995 would have to return, even if they had a criminal record. The date is when the two countries formally established diplomatic relationships.

The Department of Homeland Security has said its target is convicted criminals. "We have 7,000 convicted criminal aliens from Vietnam with final orders for removal," spokeswoman Katie Waldman said in a statement, adding that people ordered removed by a federal immigration judge were "noncitizens who during previous administrations were arrested, convicted."

However, protesters in Little Saigon, home to the largest Vietnamese community in the U.S., argued that the majority targeted for deportation were war refugees who had sided with the United States and they should be given a second chance.

The gathering is considered the first to be organized over growing concerns of deportation facing Vietnamese community members.

Tracy La of VietRISE, a grass-roots organization, told the Los Angles Times that she and team members had organized the rally in just two days because "we knew a lot of people of all ages are outraged at what’s happening. Knowing that a huge number of our community members are in deportation limbo compels us to act and to share our demands. No one will listen unless you speak up."

According to figures from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as of last December there were over 8,600 Vietnamese nationals in the United States subject to a final order of removal. At that time 7,821 of these individuals had criminal convictions. However, it is unclear how many immigrants arriving at the U.S. before 1995 face possible deportation.

According to ICE, 35 Vietnamese nationals were deported in fiscal year 2016. That number more than doubled the year after. As of April this year, 76 nationals were deported to Vietnam.

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