NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
SEATTLE — Members of the Vietnamese community protested what they say are efforts by the Trump administration to deport certain Vietnamese immigrants.
Community members and elected leaders gathered in Seattle Chinatown-International District on Jan. 11th to rally against the Trump administration’s efforts to renege on a 2008 Repatriation Agreement that supports Vietnamese refugees who came to the United States after the Vietnam War.
Participants marched from Hing Hay Park up to Little Saigon, and back.
My-Linh Thai, a state representative and a refugee herself, said, “These are the people that experienced trauma beyond our imagination… Here we are once again trying to traumatize them.”
Susan Lieu’s parents are refugees from Vietnam. She said that a lot of people impacted right now are silent and scared.
The goal of the Jan. 11 rally was to defend the more than 8,500 Vietnamese community members at risk of deportation, separating them from their families and loved ones.
According to 2010 Census data, Washington state has the third largest Vietnamese population, after California and Texas.
The United States can deport people with criminal records back to their country of citizenship. However, the United States and Vietnam have an agreement from 2008 that says, “Vietnamese citizens are not subject to return to Vietnam under this Agreement if they arrived in the United States before July 12, 1995.”
The Trump administration wants to renegotiate the agreement, which could potentially lead to thousands of additional deportations.
Kris Larsen, one of the organizers of the Jan. 11 event, said he came to the United States as a war orphan in 1975. He is also at risk of deportation.
“I’ve been here all my life. I don’t know anything else. I don’t have any memories of Vietnam because I was only 3 or 4 when I was supposedly evacuated,” Larsen said.
Alejandro Sanchez, special assistant to the governor, shared a statement on behalf of Gov. Jay Inslee. It read in part, “I stand firm in my support for a diverse and inclusive society and the thousands of Vietnamese Americans who are the most recent targets of President Trump’s xenophobic attacks.”
Support is coming in from the federal level as well. On. Jan. 4, Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) led 13 senators in urging Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen to re-examine her department’s “arbitrary detention and deportation” of many long-term U.S. residents from Southeast Asia.
The senators, both members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, noted with particular concern the Trump administration’s targeting of Vietnamese refugees.
“In Fiscal Year 2018, there was an increase in deportations of Southeast Asian immigrants, with more than 350 Laotian, Cambodian, and Vietnamese immigrants who were ordered to be deported,” the senators wrote. “Those processed for deportation by the Trump administration’s recent, aggressive deportation efforts include legal permanent residents who have lived in the United States for decades after fleeing violence and genocide in their home countries.
“We urge you to reexamine policies on the arbitrary detention and deportation of Southeast Asian immigrants who prove no threat to public safety, are interwoven into our communities, and support United States citizen families.”
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