Congressman Lowenthal Hosts Meeting for US Ambassador To Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink and Members of Congress
Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today issued the following statement on his hosting of a Congressional briefing in Washington, D.C. for the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink and Members of the Congressional Caucus on Vietnam and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus:
I was honored to host a Congressional briefing with U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam, Daniel Kritenbrink, in order to discuss the current situation in Vietnam and raise his awareness of issues important to my Vietnamese American constituents in the 47th District.
I want to thank my colleagues Reps. Gil Cisneros (CA-39), Lou Correa (CA-46), Al Green (TX-09), and Katie Porter (CA-45) for participating in the briefing and adding their thoughts and concerns to the discussion.
I asked the Ambassador to look into the forced evictions and demolition of gardens and homes in the L?c H?ng community, located just north of Saigon. Although all land in Vietnam is ultimately held by the state, land confiscations have become a point of contention with some residents claiming the Vietnamese government is pushing small landowners aside in favor of lucrative real estate projects, while paying too little in compensation to those whose land is taken. The Ambassador expressed to the Members that he would look into the situation.
My colleagues and I also discussed with the Ambassador the need of re-instating Vietnam back on the U.S. Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list, which denotes nations guilty of severe violations of religious freedom. Vietnam was taken off the U.S. State Department CPC list in 2006 after moderate improvements were noted in religious freedoms. However, numerous incidents since indicate that the Vietnamese government has backtracked on these reforms and deserves to be returned to the list. The Ambassador assured us this remains a priority with his office.
The Ambassador also briefed my colleagues and I on the case of Michael Nguyen —a US citizen and resident of Rep. Porter's district in Orange County who has been detained in Vietnam. The Ambassador pointed out that he and his staff continue to raise the release of Mr. Nguyen with senior Vietnamese government officials, including the Prime Minister. We also discussed ways in which Members of Congress can assist in continuing to advocate for Mr. Nguyen's release.
Lastly, we raised the issue of the reinterpretation of the 2008 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that the U.S. Administration is pursuing with the Vietnamese government. This effort to renegotiate the MOU will lead to the deportation of Vietnamese nationals who came to the U.S. prior to 1995 as refugees but have not attained U.S. citizenship. Previous U.S. Administrations have not prioritized the deportation of refugees who fled Vietnam after the Vietnam War – many of which fear persecution in Vietnam under the Communist regime. The Ambassador understood the concerns from Members of Congress and committed to continue the discussion with the Members as the US-Vietnam dialogue continues.