The former U.S. ambassador to Hanoi said the Trump administration is looking to deport thousands of immigrants from Vietnam, many of whom are protected by a bilateral agreement.
Ted Osius told Reuters that a "small number" of immigrants from Vietnam that are reportedly protected under the treaty have been deported already.
“These people don’t really have a country to come back to,” he said.
He said the effort to deport these immigrants was a factor in his decision last October to resign.
Brendan Raedy, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman, told Reuters that 8,600 Vietnamese nationals in the U.S. last year were subject to deportation. The spokesman said that “7,821 have criminal convictions.”
Osius said many of the immigrants from Vietnam who are now subject to deportation came to the U.S. before 1995. Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Vietnam resumed that year.
Under a 2008 bilateral agreement between Vietnam and the U.S., Vietnamese citizens are "not subject to return to Vietnam" if they "arrived in the Untied States before July 12,1995."
Katina Adams, a spokeswoman for the State Department's East Asia bureau, told Reuters that the two countries “continue to discuss their respective positions relative to Vietnamese citizens who departed Vietnam for the United States."
A senior Vietnamese official told Reuters that "many of the people went to the U.S. as a consequence of the war.”
“For those who came to the U.S. later, not as a consequence of the war, that’s a different thing," the official told Reuters.
“Those we need to accept."