- The Trump administration is once again seeking to deport certain Vietnamese immigrants with criminal convictions and deportation orders – including war refugees.
- The Atlantic reported on Wednesday that the White House wants to unilaterally reinterpret a 2008 agreement between the US and Vietnam that specifically bars such deportations.
- But Vietnam has largely refused to accept such deportees, and since the US cannot deport an immigrant to a country that won’t accept them, it’s unclear how the Trump administration’s plans will fare.
- The former US ambassador to Vietnam, Ted Osius, resigned over the issue, and said, “The majority targeted for deportation – sometimes for minor infractions – were war refugees who had sided with the United States.”
The Trump administration has renewed one of its early efforts to deport certain Vietnamese immigrants with criminal convictions, The Atlantic reported on Wednesday.
Citing an unnamed spokesperson for the US embassy in Hanoi, The Atlantic reported that the White House is seeking for the second time to reinterpret a 2008 US-Vietnam agreement, in order to allow it to deport roughly 8,000 immigrants who had removal orders and criminal convictions.
The Trump administration made the same attempt in March 2017, when it decided that those immigrants convicted of crimes, and who had yet not become US citizens, were exempt from the 2008 agreement preventing their deportation.
The agreement, signed by former President George W. Bush, specifically bars the US from deporting Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the US before 1995 – the year the US and Vietnam reestablished diplomatic relations after the Vietnam War.
But the Trump administration backed down from its deportation effort in August, after a federal judge in California said “the removal of pre-1995 Vietnamese is not reasonably foreseeable.” According to The Atlantic, the Trump administration has changed its mind again and decided to pursue the deportations.
While waiting for Vietnam to approve their deportations, the Trump administration has detained some of the migrants for months.
The judge made his remarks after partially certifying a class-action lawsuit a legal advocacy group representing the migrants.
‘War refugees who had sided with the United States’
A Homeland Security spokeswoman told The Atlantic that it was a “priority of this administration” to deport immigrants convicted of crimes.
“We have 5,000 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,” spokeswoman Katie Waldman said.
But complicating the Trump administration’s efforts is the fact that the US cannot deport immigrants back to countries that refuse to accept them, and Vietnam has largely resisted the Trump administration’s efforts to deport the pre-1995 immigrants, The New York Times reported last month.
The former US ambassador to Vietnam, Ted Osius, wrote in an essay in April 2018 that the Vietnamese government did not want to accept the deportees, and that he resigned shortly after the Trump administration directed him to press Hanoi officials.
“The majority targeted for deportation – sometimes for minor infractions – were war refugees who had sided with the United States, whose loyalty was to the flag of a nation that no longer exists,” he wrote. “And they were to be ‘returned’ decades later to a nation ruled by a communist regime.”
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