SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese joined dozens of members and leaders of the Vietnamese community Saturday who say they are concerned by what they perceive as the Trump Administration’s attack on immigrants.
A new White House policy could leave thousands of members of the Vietnamese community vulnerable to deportation for crimes committed years or even decades ago.
“Some of these convictions occurred in the 90s or the 80s. You did your time and I think you paid your debt to society,” immigration attorney Tuan Le explained. “But now, it’s 30 years later and you’re getting the harshest punishment.”
“It really feels like no immigrant is safe. And here in Santa Clara County, 40 percent of our population is foreign-born,” Cortese said.
Currently, the U.S. government has an agreement with Vietnam to accept the deportation of immigrants who’ve committed certain crimes if they arrived here in 1995 or after.
The Trump Administration is reportedly trying to strike a deal that would allow the deportation of Vietnamese immigrants who arrived prior to that — often as refugees who fled their war-torn homeland.
“They’re trying to change the law so they can get rid of whoever comes before 1995,” said Thich Phap Luu, spokesperson for Chua Di Lac Buddhist Temple in San Jose.
“We have pro bono legal help at the county for people with immigration issues and there’s a reason for that: We want people to feel like they don’t have to flee, they don’t have to hide,” Supervisor Cortese said.
According to Supervisor Cortese, the Vietnamese community here makes up 10 percent of Santa Clara County’s population.