The administration expanded its immigration focus in 2018 to include legal immigration: though legal scholars maintain that a constitutional amendment is needed to change birthright citizenship, President Trump continued to discuss ways to limit or revoke citizenship for people born in the United States.Kevin Liptak and Devan Cole, “Trump Claims He Can Defy Constitution and End Birthright Citizenship,” CNN, October 31, 2018. But there are easier targets: such as the nearly 1.3 million Vietnamese people who have sought refuge in the United States since end of the Vietnam War.For the number of Vietnamese immigrants in the United States as of 2012, see Migration Policy Institute, “Vietnamese Immigrants in the United States,” August 25, 2014.
In a reinterpretation of a 2008 agreement with Vietnam negotiated by the Bush administration, the White House announced that Vietnamese citizens who had arrived in the United States before diplomatic relations were re-established in 1995 would be subject to deportation if they had been convicted of a crime, including some minor nonviolent offenses—sometimes decades earlier.Simon Denyer, “Thousands of Vietnamese, Including Offspring Of U.S. Troops, Could Be Deported Under Trump Policy,” Washington Post, September 1, 2018.
In December, a spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Hanoi told the Atlantic that the administration also plans to pursue the deportation of people who have committed no crime since their arrival, if they arrived before 1995.Charles Dunst and Krishnadev Calamur, “Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees,”Atlantic, December 12, 2018.
Vietnam, which initially accepted about a dozen people deported under the new policy, has since hardened its stance.Charles Dunst and Krishnadev Calamur, “Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees,”Atlantic, December 12, 2018.
The administration has also moved to deport Cambodian refugees who fled the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s, many of whom arrived as small children and have little or no relationship with Cambodia. Cambodian refugees with removal orders became eligible for deportation as part of a 2002 agreement under President Bush, but few have ever been deported—only 29 were removed in 2017.[footnote[Charles Dunst, “Dozens More Cambodian Immigrants to Be Deported from U.S., Officials Say,” New York Times, December 12, 2018. Ninety-four Cambodians, however, had been deported by the end of November, with another 46 slated for removal in December (36 were successfully removed), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Brendan Raedy has stated that there are nearly 1,800 Cambodians with final orders of removal.