Search This Blog


Officials whiff opposing Viet refugee policy change

You always can count on politicians to create a crisis where there isn’t one and to paint stripes on a horse and call it a zebra, exemplified recently by reaction to a Republican Pres. Donald Trump Administration policy change.

National media began circulating stories earlier this month about how the Trump Administration was going to start deporting some non-citizen Vietnamese who had lived in America for 23 or more years. Some had immigrated almost 45 years ago when the Vietnam War ended as refugees from the victorious North Vietnamese communists.

The new Vietnam hasn’t wanted these people back, given their anti-communist sentiments that could challenge the government’s oppressive political rule. And there’s another motivation as well: the Trump Administration wants to deport those who have committed crimes, so Vietnam would have to integrate criminals ideologically opposed to their government.

Because of that, in 2008 the two governments negotiated that any Vietnamese national accepted into the U.S. prior to Jul. 12, 1995 (the date of restoration of normal relations between the two countries) Vietnam would not accept back. Regarding deportations under international law, the sending country must have permission from the receiving country or another to evict the person.

However, not long after Trump assumed office, his administration voiced repudiation of that in regards to criminal alien Vietnamese. The controversy has gone on since, with little practical impact because Vietnam may decide on a case-by-case basis whether it wants to accept someone.

From some media accounts, one might have thought the policy change would threaten immediately the entire non-citizen Vietnamese population, but in fact only applies to just several thousand that will never happen unless Trump can pressure Vietnam into changing its mind. Still, this brought reactions from some Louisiana politicians ranging from the misguided to wretchedly stupid.

Falling squarely in the latter category, Democrat New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell called this change an “ugly effort to target our Vietnamese neighbors … the entire City of New Orleans stands in solidarity with our Vietnamese community, which has contributed so much to our social and cultural fabric.” That latter part certainly is true, but does Cantrell really think it’s unreflective nativism to want to send criminals away who took advantage of America’s generosity without even being asked to become citizens? Let’s hope she never knows what Jim Steinle has had to face.

Perhaps more aware of what she should express, Democrat City Councilwoman (and of Vietnamese descent) Cyndi Nguyen at a rally organized to publicize the modification said “I am not pro-crime, but people who have paid their debt to society should be given a second chance,” referring to the segment of the several thousand that already had served sentences over their criminal behavior.

While a much more reasonable position, its spirit runs counter to current efforts to authorize deportation automatically of any alien convicted of a violent crime. Because of a recent court ruling, technically all illegal aliens, regardless of whether they have committed crimes, must go through the deportation process. Those who serve a sentence typically have that process connected to it. In other words, Nguyen asks for a special exemption for these Vietnamese criminals, with no justification as to why they should merit special treatment.

In actuality, the modification would benefit the community. Indeed, politicians like Nguyen who have a substantial Vietnamese noncitizen population should welcome this change, for two reasons.

First, it would encourage them to become citizens, if nothing else to prevent deportation if, for whatever reason, they get convicted of a crime. That would bring other benefits, such as the right to vote and overall greater civic engagement in the community that increases its chances of having its concerns heard.

Second, it would make these communities more law-abiding, if not safer. With deportation an additional penalty for criminal behavior, this would deter some of its members with lesser character from committing crime.

Far from harming Vietnamese and their communities – who comprise an estimated 1.7 percent of New Orleans residents and make up the state’s fourth-largest ethic group – this change overall is positive for them. Rather than whip up hysteria to satisfy ideological urges or myopically analyzing its impact, politicians pledged to represent them need to back the alteration and deliver input to ensure its optimal application.

No comments: