A proposed policy change in Washington, D.C., had ripple effects in New Orleans on Friday.
The Trump administration has proposed a policy change that would allow some Vietnamese immigrants to be deported.
Vietnamese refugees who were in the United States before July 12, 1995, are protected from deportation, even if they were in the country illegally or committed a crime. Under the revised policy, they would no longer be granted protection.
It was 1995 when the U.S. and Vietnam re-established diplomatic relations after the Vietnam war.
About 9,000 people across the nation could be affected by any decision to change the policy.
The proposal drew a strong rebuke from leaders in the metro New Orleans area, which is home to nearly 16,000 Vietnamese immigrants, according to the U.S. Census.
“In the face of this ugly effort to target our Vietnamese neighbors, I would like to make it clear that the entire city of New Orleans stands in solidarity with out Vietnamese community,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a prepared statement.
City Councilwoman Cyndi Nguyen came to the U.S. with her family, Vietnamese refugees, in 1975. She represents New Orleans East, which has the largest Vietnamese population in the city.
She said the lack of details are making some people nervous.
“This is unnecessary stress and pressure for families when they have continued to be good citizens, contribute to society,” she said.
Minh Nguyen, who is not related to Cyndi Nguyen, works with VAYLA, a community group that helps immigrants become naturalized. He said there is no reason to panic, given the lack of certainties in the proposal from the Trump administration.
Instead, he said, some action can be taken now.
“People have been asking, 'What can we do?' Our response has been, 'Come into our office and we will help you begin the process of becoming naturalized,’” Nguyen said. “You shouldn't wait anymore. We shouldn't gamble on what the Trump administration is going to do.”
U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D, New Orleans) was among 26 members of Congress who signed a letter to Trump pushing back against the policy.
The members of Congress wrote that they were urging the president to “honor the humanitarian spirit and intention embodied in the current agreement. To do otherwise would send thousands of Vietnamese refugees back to a country they fled years ago, tear apart thousands of families and significantly disrupt immigrant and refugee communities in the U.S.”