The January 22 agreement lasts for five years.
Natalie Newton, an activist in the Asian community, chaired the meeting of 30 people. She explained relations between the U.S. and Vietnamese governments over the last decade. She said the agreement is one way in which the United States is trying to dominate Vietnam economically and politically.
Immigration attorney Jay Stansell said that 8,000 Vietnamese in the United States could now face deportation, including 1,500 immediately. Deportation orders stem from entering the country illegally, overstaying a visa, or being convicted of a crimeeven if the person already served jail time.
Stansell said the new agreement applies only to those who came to the United States after 1995, when diplomatic relations between the two countries were normalized. But another 6,200 Vietnamese nationals have received final notices and face deportation to a third country. An estimated 1.5 million Vietnamese Americans live in the United States.
Stansell said a similar agreement was reached with Cambodia in 2002 and so far 170 people have been deported to that country, while 2,000 more are awaiting deportation.
If someone violated the law, paid for it with jail time, and is now married with kids and a job they shouldnt have to go back to Vietnam, said community activist Hao Nguyen.
Maru Villalpando, an organizer with Washington Community Action Network, spoke of the effects of deportations on the Latino community. She explained how the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement operates: stopping people at gas stations, breaking into homes, raiding workplaces, and carting people off to jail without access to friends, family, or legal counsel.
I oppose the U.S. governments attempts to deport Vietnamese, or any foreign-born workers, Mary Martin, Socialist Workers Party candidate for the U.S. Congress in Washingtons 7th District, said during the discussion period. The U.S. government has no moral authority to call anyone a criminal given its record of brutality against the Vietnamese people.
Martin urged those present to join actions on May Day demanding an end to raids and deportations.
After the meeting, Newton said she wants to organize more meetings on this issue and link up with other immigrant groups facing threats of deportation.
Workers in Connecticut organize against attacks on immigrants, union
U.S. socialist candidate solidarizes with Canada antideportation struggle
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