California

Trump faces backlash from California Republicans over move to deport Vietnamese refugees

Nearly 40 years have passed since the 54 people made their iconic escape from Vietnam on the Peace at Sea in 1980. Vietnam has changed radically since then. The beaches of Thuan An, where the small boat once passed secretly in the night is now filled with local tourists in a thriving economy. Kevin German / LUCEO
Nearly 40 years have passed since the 54 people made their iconic escape from Vietnam on the Peace at Sea in 1980. Vietnam has changed radically since then. The beaches of Thuan An, where the small boat once passed secretly in the night is now filled with local tourists in a thriving economy. Kevin German / LUCEO Kevin German / LUCEO

President Donald Trump is getting backlash from his own party over his administration’s decision to try to deport some immigrants who entered the United States during and after the Vietnam War.

In a letter addressed to the president on Thursday, two Republicans representing Southern California condemned the effort. Assemblyman Tyler Diep, R-Westminster, and Andrew Do, chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, said the policy of deporting refugees “will have a severe and irreversible human impact.”

Diep and Do called on Trump to reverse course on his plan to reclassify immigrants who fled Vietnam and came to the United States as a result of the war that ended with the fall of Saigon in 1975.

“As Vietnamese political refugees who have become a County Supervisor and a California State Assemblyman, we are examples of how immigrants give back to this great country we call home,” Diep and Do wrote. “We ask that you reconsider your policy regarding the repatriation of former Vietnamese refugees.”

In 2008, the United States reached an agreement to allow Vietnamese immigrants to stay in the country without fear of deportation if they arrived before July 12, 1995. The Trump administration wants to reinterpret the agreement to kick people out of the country if they were convicted of crimes.

Trump’s actions could alienate Vietnamese residents in Orange County and other parts of Southern California that have traditionally elected Republicans. Democrats swept the area in 2018 congressional races, making the GOP even more vulnerable.

While the two Republicans said they understand national security is a top priority, they said prior immigration policies were implemented because of “unique circumstances” Southeast Asian refugees faced.

Diep and Do join a loud chorus of Democrats who have expressed similar concerns. Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, and Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, were among 26 House Democrats who sent Trump a letter on Thursday decrying the president’s immigration policy.

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