Thousands of illegal Vietnamese face deportation

>HANOI, Vietnam (AP) – Thousands of Vietnamese living illegally in the United States now face deportation after the two countries completed an agreement Tuesday, a move that sparked worry among immigrant communities.

Vietnamese who entered the U.S. illegally after the former foes normalized relations in 1995 could now be forced to return to their birth country, said Julie Myers, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The deal has been under negotiation for 10 years. Vietnam had previously been reluctant to accept citizens back, and community leaders in the United States said many immigrants have been living with deportation orders for years, even decades.

“Some Vietnamese have been here have a very long time,” said Carolyn Tran, an organizer with VietUnity, an Oakland-based Vietnamese community organization. “They don’t have a connection there any more.”

Myers did not say how many Vietnamese are believed to be living illegally in the United States.

About 6,200 Vietnamese were given final deportation orders before the agreement’s completion, and 1,500 more are involved in proceedings to eventually be sent home, she said during a visit to Vietnam.

Critics of the agreement wonder whether this pact won’t be rolled back to include others who entered the United States in the ’70s and ’80s.