San Jose is taking a stand against President Donald Trump’s push to deport thousands of Vietnamese immigrants.
The City Council’s Rules and Open Government Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to adopt a resolution, proposed by Republican Councilmember Lan Diep, to denounce Trump’s plan to deport thousands of Vietnamese immigrants who entered the country before 1995, when the U.S. and Vietnam normalized relations. The president’s deportation plan targets non-citizens and those who have been convicted of crimes.
“When we, as a Vietnamese American community, come to San Jose, we become council members, vice mayors, artists, doctors,” Diep said. “We are a diverse community and we stand up for our own.”
In an interview Thursday, Diep said the denouncement is “just symbolic, but it carries weight.”
In November, the Trump administration revived efforts to deport Vietnamese refugees who fled Vietnam decades ago, many of whom are refugees of the Vietnam War. They were previously protected by a 2008 agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam that halted their deportation.
Madison Nguyen, executive vice president for the silicon valley organization, expressed support for Diep and the San Jose council’s decision to denounce Trump’s proposal.
“I commend councilmember Diep for bringing this important issue to the full council’s attention, and I completely agree with his recommendation,” said Nguyen, who was the city’s first Vietnamese councilmember and vice mayor. “I think it’s shameful and it’s outright cruel for the Trump administration to do something like this.”
The District 4 councilman said during the meeting that it’s important for San Jose, which is home to the largest Vietnamese population of any city outside of Vietnam, to stand up for Vietnamese residents the same way it has defended Dreamers and transgender military members when the Trump administration has singled them out.
“Ordinarily, we wouldn’t weigh in if it was just an issue of foreign policy or federal policy,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said during Wednesday’s meeting. But Liccardo also pointed out the measure’s importance, “given the impact this has on San Jose,” a city whose largest demographic is Asian — about 36-percent, according to city records.
But some Vietnamese-American residents spoke out against the resolution Wednesday, expressing concern over the criminality of those who could be deported.
“I feel [Diep’s] resolution is not fair because the deportations are targeted toward people with a criminal record,” San Jose resident Duc Vu told the committee. “I’m a current Trump supporter because I think he’s helped America.”
“We don’t want to keep the criminals in America. We are refugees ourselves,” added Truong Vu. “Most of them are criminals. That’s why we don’t agree with Lan Diep… So if Trump sends them to Vietnam, that’s fine.”
Diep fired back Thursday saying the Vietnamese community needs to stand in solidarity against deportations and family separations.
“I am disappointed that refugees who escaped the totalitarian regime in Vietnam, and who know the lengths and pains it took to make that journey to freedom, would be supportive of sending anybody back, no matter what their background, to a regime that is still corrupt and dictatorial,” Diep said.
“Whatever pressure we can apply will go a long way in trying to protect these people from being deported and ending the separation of families unnecessarily,” he added. “Especially from people who may have, you know, criminal blemishes but have paid their debt to society and have built new lives for themselves.”
Although San Jose lawmakers often hesitate to weigh in on federal matters, this isn’t the first time the Capital of Silicon Valley has taken on the White House.
The city recently sued the Trump administration over its attempt to place a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, and a Northern California U.S. District Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of San Jose. Often led by Santa Clara County, California has filed 46 lawsuits challenging Trump’s executive orders and policies.
Contact Kyle Martin at [email protected] or follow him @Kyle_Martin35 on Twitter.