Congressman Lowenthal Leads Coalition Calling on Administration To Reject Renegotiation of Agreement To Allow Deportation of Vietnamese Refugees

December 13, 2018
Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today led a coalition of 26 House Members in urging the President, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Homeland Security to maintain current protections afforded to Vietnamese refugees in the Unites States. Most notably, the letter sent by the Members calls for the continued inclusion in a U.S.-Vietnam Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of language that specifically excludes the deportation of pre-1995 immigrants who came to the U.S. in the wake of the Vietnam War.   

"I am outraged and deeply disturbed by the Trump administration's efforts to subject thousands of immigrants from Vietnam to deportation," Congressman Lowenthal said. "Both the Obama and Bush administrations recognized the moral imperative to continue to protect these people, a group that includes Vietnam War era refugees who have lived in the US for decades. Our agreements with Vietnam only allow those who arrived in the United States after 1995, the date when the United States recognized the Vietnamese government, to be deported. I am proud to lead 25 of my House colleagues to protest any effort to renegotiate agreements with Vietnam and to jeopardize these Vietnamese Americans.

The letter points out that the longstanding MOU, signed by the U.S. and Vietnamese governments in 2008 under President George W. Bush, does not outline a bilateral agreement regarding the deportation of any Vietnamese citizens who arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995, as this was subject to previous legal positions of the two countries.

Even for those who came to the U.S. after July 12, 1995, the MOU promises to "take into account the humanitarian aspect, family unity and circumstances" of each person being considered for repatriation and to carry out repatriation "in an orderly and safe way, and with respect for the individual human dignity of the person repatriated."

The Members also write that, "The terms of this MOU recognize the complex history between the two countries and the dire circumstances under which hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese fled to the U.S. to seek refuge from political persecution in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Many of those who fled were South Vietnamese who had fought alongside or otherwise supported the U.S. government during the war."

In concluding, the Members wrote, "We strongly oppose any renegotiation of the MOU that strips the current protections afforded to Vietnamese refugees, including the exclusion from the agreement of pre-1995 immigrants and the humanitarian considerations provided to all others. We further urge you to honor the humanitarian spirit and intention embodied in the current agreement. To do otherwise would send thousands of Vietnamese refugees back to a country they fled years ago, tear apart thousands of families, and significantly disrupt immigrant and refugee communities in the U.S."

To read the full letter, click here.