One of President Trump’s most consistent policies has been his administration’s hostility toward immigrants and refugees. In late 2017, the U.S. revoked the temporary protected status of nearly 60,000 Haitian immigrants who moved to the U.S. following that country’s devastating 2010 earthquake, a move that could have a disastrous effect on Haiti if that community is forced back to the island. Now, according to a former ambassador, the U.S. is seeking to do the same with Vietnamese immigrants, which would violate a bilateral treaty agreement.
In an interview with Reuters, former U.S. ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius raised the issue, saying that a “small number” of people with protected status had already been sent back:
Osius said that many of the targeted immigrants were supporters of the now defunct U.S.-backed state of South Vietnam, and Hanoi would see them as destabilizing elements.
“These people don’t really have a country to come back to,” he said. Many of those targeted would have come to the United States as refugees after the end of the Vietnam War. Osius said the push by the Trump administration started in April last year and contributed to his resignation in October.
The 2008 treaty between Vietnam and the U.S. declared that Vietnamese immigrants who arrived before July 1995 (when diplomatic relations between the two countries resumed) were not subject to return to Vietnam. According to Osius, however, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told him in 2017 that the “status quo on repatriation cannot continue.”
Reuters has heard from Brendan Raedy, the spokesperson for ICE, who stated that of the 8,600 Vietnamese nationals in the U.S. who may be deported, “7,821 have criminal convictions.”