Washington, DC– SEARAC is deeply concerned about rumors circulating in the Vietnamese community that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will meet with representatives of the Vietnamese government this week. It is reported that this meeting is an effort to change a memorandom of understanding (MOU) between the two countries that largely protects refugees who entered the United States before July 12, 1995, from deportation.
Since 1998, more than 9,000 Vietnamese immigrants have been issued a final order of removal. A change in the current MOU would potentially make over 8,500 of these individuals immediately vulnerable to deportation
Many of these community members came to the United States as refugees after the fallout from the Vietnam War and have been living in the country peacefully supporting US citizen families.
Earlier this year, Asian Americans Advancing Justice
filed a lawsuit
against the US government challenging the unjust detentions and deportations of these “pre-’95” Vietnamese immigrants. Though Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said it would cease to detain these community members for a prolonged period of time, a declaration from a DHS official also stated that the agency would continue to pursue changes to the current MOU between the countries. This possible meeting between the US and Vietnamese governments is alarming under an Administration that has repeatedly attempted to ramp up enforcement efforts against immigrants across the country.
“The current US-Vietnam repatriation agreement must be maintained,” said Quyen Dinh, executive director at SEARAC. “Any revisions to this agreement that eliminates the ’95 bar would endanger thousands of Vietnamese refugees, most of whom have been in the United States for decades. The Administration has continued to increase its efforts to tear immigrant families apart. This meeting is just one more attack against our communities in their larger actions against immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. SEARAC will not stand by idly while our communities are under threat and will remain vigilant in holding this Administration accountable to our communities.”
On Saturday, SEARAC joined the Vietnamese Anti-Deportation Network and more than 40 community advocates to discuss strategies to prevent changes to the agreement.
“In just a few days of learning about this covert DHS meeting, thousands across the country are standing against any changes that would deport more people and cause damaging family separation,” said Cat Bao Le, an organizer with the Vietnamese Anti-Deportation Network. “It is simply wrong to deport refugees who were being persecuted in Vietnam due to factors in which the US played a hand. Now 43 years later, people are at risk of being torn apart from their families and sent back to a country from which they fled and have little ties.”
1. Add your name
to the thousands who have signed a petition denouncing any negative changes to the MOU.
2. SEARAC and the Asian Americans Advancing Justice network are working closely to support a letter by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) to DHS objecting efforts to change the deportability bar. Call your House representative
to urge him or her to join Rep. Lowenthal’s letter, which has a deadline of Dec. 12.
Sample script: “My name is ____ from (city, state). I am calling Representative (name) to express my concern over an upcoming scheduled meeting between the United States and Vietnam. It’s been reported that the countries will be renegotiating their repatriation agreement, leaving the entire Vietnamese American community vulnerable to deportation. This policy will tear families apart and destabilize communities like ours by ignoring the humanitarian implications of deporting refugees. Rep. Lowenthal has released a Congressional sign-on letter to DHS expressing opposition to any changes to the current US-Vietnam MOU that reduces protections for Vietnamese Americans. The deadline is December 12th. Can Representative (name) sign onto the letter and to stand in solidarity with the Vietnamese American community?”
*If they say yes or have any questions, please direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org
*If your representative is Alan Lowenthal, please thank him for his leadership!