Thousands of Vietnamese to be Deported, Says Former US Ambassador to Vietnam
The United States is looking to send thousands of Vietnamese immigrants, most of whom are refugees, back to the communist-ruled country, despite the existence of a bilateral agreement between the two nations that protect many of them from deportation, according to the ex-US Ambassador to Vietnam.
Ted Osius, who resigned last October, said that he chose to leave the position after learning of the Trump administration’s plans to send more than 8,000 Vietnamese back to the Southeast Asian nation. “These people don’t really have a country to come back to,” says Osius. He also claimed that the Trump administration had asked him to pressure the Vietnamese government to accept these deportees, many of whom fled the country after the fall of Saigon in 1975.
“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,” Osius wrote in an essay for the Foreign Service Journal this month.
“And they were to be ‘returned’ decades later to a nation ruled by a communist regime with which they had never reconciled. I feared many would become human rights cases, and our government would be culpable.”
Brendan Ready, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said that, as of Dec. 2017, 7,821 of the 8,600 Vietnamese nationals targeted for deportation have “criminal convictions.”
However, in 2008, an agreement was made between the U.S. and Vietnam, which clearly stipulated that the Vietnamese immigrants were not required to return to their country of origin if they had arrived in the US before July 12, 1995.
Osius did not deny that some of the immigrants have been involved in serious crimes. That being said, he stressed that “there was an agreement in 2008 that cases between 1975 and 1995 would be left alone.”
A spokeswoman for the State Department’s East Asia bureau, Katina Adams, insisted that both the U.S. and Vietnamese governments “continue to discuss their respective positions relative to Vietnamese citizens who departed Vietnam for the United States”. A senior official in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi also confirmed that the country was “in discussions” with the United States over the issue.