On April 30, 2018, veterans in Colorado and across the country observed the 43rd anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. On that same day, hundreds of Vietnamese refugees and their relatives who are locked in immigration detention facilities thought about the uncertainty of their futures.
Refugees from the Vietnam War are among the various immigrant groups being targeted for deportation and removal by the draconian and overzealous policies of the Trump administration. In many cases, these refugees are being detained for months on end while awaiting deportation proceedings. Nonetheless, immigration agents and officials are ignoring a 2008 repatriation agreement between Vietnam and the United States.
Vietnamese immigrants who have been convicted of a criminal offense are at risk of losing their legal status; however, those who arrived in the U.S. as refugees prior to 1995 cannot be repatriated. Even if these refugees become illegal immigrants after they are convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, they cannot be sent back to Vietnam, but his has not stopped Trump's deportation force from rounding them up and keeping them in detention centers almost indefinitely.
Immigration advocates are fighting against the executive order entitled "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States," which was signed by President Trump in January 2017. Under the guise of enforcing immigration laws, members of Trump's deportation force agents have been criticized for going after low-hanging fruit, such as Vietnam War refugees who may only have misdemeanor convictions or whose only criminal offense may be working under expired employment authorization documents.
Under the current political climate, immigrants who have been arrested in the U.S. should seek legal counsel. Deportation and removal proceedings call for due process and legal strategies, particularly at a time when advocacy groups are challenging the new policies of the Trump administration.