Traci Hong and Rep. Zoe Lofgren
photo: Heather Wines, Gannett News Service
Although it is not much in the news, the agreement on deportations to Vietnam has created significant concern throughout the U.S. This agreement sounds like a replay of other repatriation orders from 70 years ago.
Below is an excerpt from a letter written by Rep. Zoe Lofgren to Michael Chertoff. For link to complete document click the title of this post.
January 23, 2008
To the Honorable Michael Chertoff
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
Dear Secretary Chertoff
We are extremely concerned that thousands of Vietnamese nationals currently living in the United States may be forcibly returned to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, a country with an extensive and continuing record of human rights violations. It is appalling and unbelievable that this Administration would even consider returning those who escaped Communism back to the clutches of the very Communists that they escaped...
According to an ICE press release, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government of Vietnam today. This MOU will apparently permit the deportation of Vietnamese nationals who entered the United States on or after July 12, 1995.
...the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) reported that Vietnam has initiated a severe crackdown on human rights defenders and advocates for the freedoms of speech, association, and assembly, including many religious leaders. In particular, USCIRF found that [t]he Vietnamese government continues to remain suspicious of ethnic minority religious groups, such as Montagnard and Hmong Protestants and Khmer Buddhists; those who seek to establish independent religious organizations, such as the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Hao Hoa, and Cao Dai; and those it considers to pose a threat to national solidarity or security, such as 'Degaa Protestants and individual Mennonite, Catholic, Buddhist, and house church Protestant leaders.
In addition, respected non-governmental entities such as Amnesty International also documented wide-spread human rights violations in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam:
Restrictions on freedom of expression and association continued. Members of unauthorized churches seen as opposing state policies faced harassment. Dissidents using the Internet were harassed, threatened and imprisoned. Small groups of ethnic minority Montagnards continued to flee human rights violations in the Central Highlands and seek asylum in neighbouring Cambodia; at least 250 remained imprisoned after unfair trials in Viet Nam.
Given the rampant violations of human rights committed by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam as documented by our own State Department and other governmental and non-governmental experts, we are very troubled that ICE has entered into an agreement to deport Vietnamese nationals living in the United States into such conditions. We ask that you brief us personally on the MOU. In particular, we would like to know the process by which the agreement was reached, including whether ICE was aware of and considered the Socialist Republic of Vietnam' human rights record in reaching the agreement. Furthermore, we insist that no implementation of this agreement take place until agreed to by Congress. We would appreciate your response no later than close of business on Friday, January 25, 2008.
Letter to Chertoff: http://lofgren.house.gov/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=1874
photograph and story on Hong: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-05-24-employer-verification_N.htm