Southeast Asian Organizations Respond to Vice President Harris’ Trip to Vietnam

For Immediate Release:
August 27, 2021

Media contact:
Elaine Sanchez Wilson, SEARAC

WASHINGTON, DC – Vice President Harris traveled to Vietnam this week to meet with Vietnamese government officials. Prior to her trip, SEARAC and the Southeast Asian Freedom Network encouraged the Biden Administration to include renegotiations of the US and Vietnam repatriation memorandum of understanding (MOU). Specifically, we have asked the Administration to initiate conversations with the Vietnamese government to eliminate the Trump Administration’s 2020 agreement.
The Trump 2020 MOU puts in place policies to deport certain removable pre-1995 Vietnamese refugees, ending over a decade of general removal protections for these communities. Our partners have indicated that those most likely to be targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are individuals who are awaiting released from prisons and jails. Additionally, ICE also sometimes seeks a travel document when a pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrant with an old removal order is arrested on new criminal charges and transferred to ICE custody again. Our organizations are currently not aware of any widespread efforts by ICE to target pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants with old removal orders who have not recently re-entered ICE custody. 
“We are encouraged by Vice President Harris’ trip to Southeast Asia. In contrast to the previous Administration’s strongarm approach to diplomatic relationships, we welcome President Biden’s more thoughtful efforts to engage with Southeast Asia,” said Quyen Dinh, Executive Director of SEARAC. “We hope that by normalizing relationships with the region, this Administration can take the steps necessary to end the 2020 repatriation MOU between the United States and Vietnam and respect those countries’ desires not to accept any more removable Southeast Asian refugees. SEARAC is committed to ending the deportations of Southeast Asian refugees and will continue to work with the Administration to find a solution for our communities.”