Updated at 4:02 p.m.
Opposition is building against a Trump-administration plan to allow certain groups of protected Vietnamese immigrants to be deported, a day after The Atlantic reported that the U.S. is reinterpreting an agreement with Vietnam that shielded some of them from being moved out of the country.
In the latest sign of growing worry over the efforts, a group of at least 22 members of Congress have signed a letter addressed to the White House, as well as the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, to express “deep concern” over attempts to rework the 2008 accord between the U.S. and Vietnam. John Kerry, a former secretary of state and Vietnam War veteran, echoed those concerns, calling the shift “despicable.” That deal protected Vietnamese nationals who came to the United States before July 12, 1995, and committed crimes during their time in the U.S., from the threat of deportation. That specific date, which was when Washington and Hanoi established diplomatic relations, covered those fleeing the Vietnam War. In essence, the Trump administration has now said it believes that the agreement allows for a wider number of Vietnamese migrants to be deported.
In their letter, the 22 lawmakers—all Democratic members of the House of Representatives— acknowledged that many young Vietnamese refugees, upon arrival in the United States, “were resettled in struggling neighborhoods without support or resources to cope with significant trauma from the [Vietnam] war.”