ICYMI: The Atlantic: Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees
December 13, 2018
The White House again wants to deport certain groups of protected immigrants, a reversal after backing away from the policy months ago.
By Charles Dunst and Krishnadev Calamur
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.
This is the latest move in the president’s long record of prioritizing harsh immigration and asylum restrictions, and one that’s sure to raise eyebrows—the White House had hesitantly backed off the plan in August before reversing course. In essence, the administration has now decided that Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the country before the establishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and Vietnam are subject to standard immigration law—meaning they are all eligible for deportation.
The new stance mirrors White House efforts to clamp down on immigration writ large, a frequent complaint of the president’s on the campaign trail and one he links to a litany of ills in the United States.
The administration last year began pursuing the deportation of many long-term immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, and other countries who the administration alleges are “violent criminal aliens.” But Washington and Hanoi have a unique 2008 agreement that specifically bars the deportation of Vietnamese people who arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995—the date the two former foes reestablished diplomatic relations following the Vietnam War.
The White House unilaterally reinterpreted the agreement in the spring of 2017 to exempt people convicted of crimes from its protections, allowing the administration to send back a small number of pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants, a policy it retreated from this past August. Last week, however, a spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Hanoi said the American government was again reversing course.
Washington now believes that the 2008 agreement fails to protect pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants from deportation, the spokesperson, who asked not to be identified by name because of embassy procedures, told The Atlantic.