Trump move on Vietnamese immigrants ‘despicable’

By Sen   December 14, 2018 | 03:31 pm GMT+7
Trump move on Vietnamese immigrants ‘despicable’
President Donald Trump signing an executive order on immigration policy at the White House in Washington. Photo by Reuters/Yuri Gripas
John Kerry and 22 Democratic congressmen have criticized the Trump administration’s attempt to subvert a U.S.-Vietnam immigration pact.

At least 22 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have sent a letter to the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, expressing "deep concern" about the government's reinterpretation of a treaty signed in 2008 with Vietnam, The Atlantic reported.

The agreement clearly states that Vietnamese-Americans who came to the U.S. before the two countries normalized diplomatic relations on July 12, 1995, would not be subject to deportation.

However, the Trump administration is reportedly seeking to overturn the deal and send thousands of Vietnamese immigrants back to Vietnam, although they have lived for decades in the United States.

Many Vietnamese-Americans who came to the United States at a young age "were resettled in struggling neighborhoods without support or resources to cope with significant trauma from the [Vietnam] war," the letter says.

"As a result, some made mistakes that funneled them into the criminal justice system."

The letter also emphasizes that these refugees have served their time and are currently giving back to their communities.

It calls on the Trump administration "to honor the humanitarian spirit embodied in the current agreement," adding: "We strongly oppose any renegotiation... that strips the current protections afforded to Vietnamese refugees."

"Despicable," said former Secretary of State John Kerry, a veteran of the Vietnam War, responding to the latest move by the Trump administration.

Kerry posted a tweet questioning the effect it would have.

"After so many – from George H.W. Bush to John McCain and Bill Clinton – worked for years to heal this open wound and put a war behind us—they’re turning their backs on people who fled and many who fought by our side. For what possible gain?" he said.

Since 2017, the United States has begun arresting and threatening to expel many long-term immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia and other countries who are identified as "foreign violent criminals."

Dozens of Vietnamese immigrants with a criminal record have been detained in immigration centers for six months or longer. Many of them have been released from prison, but new regulations have allowed them to be re-arrested.

"I’ve been getting so many text messages from scared Vietnamese community members over the last few days," said Phi Nguyen, legal director at Atlanta's Asian American Justice Initiative, told The Atlantic.

The White House has asserted that the reinterpretation of the 2008 agreement would only apply to undocumented Vietnamese or those who have been prosecuted, not to naturalized U.S. citizens.

About 5,000 Vietnamese offenders would be deported under Trump’s reinterpretation, according to Katie Waldman, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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