Thursday, December 13, 2018

Letter of Concern over U.S.-Vietnam Renegotiation of Repatriation Agreement

Assemblymember Ash Kalra and California Congressmembers Sign Letter of Concern over U.S.-Vietnam Renegotiation of Repatriation Agreement 

SACRAMENTO – State Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) joined California Congress members Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Rep. Ro Khanna in signing a letter of concern regarding the potential deportation of Vietnamese refugees following actions by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to renegotiate the terms of a decade-long repatriation agreement between the United States and Vietnam.

“I condemn any renegotiation that turns its back on protecting the Vietnamese refugees who were forced to leave their homes over forty years ago to escape a war and rebuild their lives here in this country,” said Assemblymember Kalra.

“Perpetuating a campaign of deportation shreds the fabric of our communities, hurts American families, and is antithetical to the American spirit.”

Following the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people fled to the United States, many of whom were South Vietnamese and seeking political asylum for supporting the U.S. government during the war. Those families, including young refugee children, resettled in the United States with little support and few resources to cope with the significant trauma associated with the war, loss of family, and loss of homeland.

The letter of concern, authored by two leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, reads:

…as a result, some [refugees] made mistakes that funneled them into the criminal justice system. Despite these mistakes, the repatriation agreement has given thousands of former Vietnamese refugees a second chance. It has allowed families to stay together and enabled individuals not only to rebuild their lives but also to make a difference in their communities.

In 2008, the U.S. and Vietnam signed a repatriation agreement that explicitly excludes Vietnamese nationals who arrived in the U.S. before July 12, 1995. Furthermore, the agreement ensured consideration of “the humanitarian aspect, family unity and circumstances” for all others, and to carry out repatriation “in an orderly and safe way, and with respect for the individual human dignity of the person repatriated.”

Despite the conditions outlined the agreement, the DHS in 2017 began a mass deportation campaign on immigrants of several countries, including Vietnam, and Vietnamese refugees who came to the United States before 1995 were still being deported this year. Through a series of diplomatic visits and discussions, the DHS has been actively urging the Vietnamese government to broaden the conditions of the treaty by allowing more repatriation of deportees to Vietnam.

The letter is addressed to President Donald Trump, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Monday, December 10, 2018

Christmas Toys For Tots

Young Lord of San Jose - Lan Diep

After almost two years in office,  San Jose Councilman Lan Diep has managed to offend the Vietnamese-American community to a point that the community leaders are calling him out publicly.  He is not well liked in the community and often not invited to community events.  Most of the time,  if attended, he would appear as guest of  Councilman Tam Nguyen.

In a recent press release, one group called Vietnamese-American Coalition of Northern California, led by Son Pham and Truong Vu, stated that his self-absorbing arrogance, ignorance and  lack of respect for the community have caused the community to turn away from him.

Lan Diep bursted to the political scene in San Jose as a Vietnamese-American candidate and ran his campaign in 2015 relying on his Vietnamese base heavily.  His District 4 is 54% Asian.  When in office, he basically ignores his Vietnamese supporters.  Some residents  in the community who had voted for him are now lamenting : "He forgets us now that he is in office"

At a recent town hall meeting organized by Mayor Sam Liccardo to update the Vietnamese-American community on issues as part of his outreach effort,  Diep was present and asked why he terminated a signed contract by the city with VIVO for translation and outreach services.   He said it was approved by the former Councilman Manh Nguyen; thus, he was not obligated to honor it and besides there were no need for such services.

For some reasons or another, he still holds grudges against Manh Nguyen whom he defeated in 2016 election.   The contract was approved by the city staff and VIVO, a well established nonprofit organization that has served the Vietnamese-American community for over 35 years.   The budget was allocated by Manh Nguyen when he was in office and the city felt there was a  need for such service.  The work had started at the beginning of 2015.  When Diep found out 9 months later, he decided to terminate the project and instructed the city staff not to pay VIVO for the work that had been done.

The city given and Diep taken back.   Yet in the town hall forum, he lectured the community that they are immature and need to learn how to deal with the city staff properly (?) 

His dealing with the Vietnamese-American community has been known to be Trump-like.  He would tweet tidbits to make fun and put down Councilman Tam Nguyen when he was office.   There was a certain jealousy since Nguyen was the face of the community and he was not and still is not.

When the billionaire Hoang Kieu came to town two years ago for a press conference to announce his donation of $5 million for flood relief,  many people thought Diep displayed his lack of respect,  immaturity, and eagerness to be the face of the Vietnamese-American community.

As Kieu's entourage parked their cars and Hoang Kieu walked out to the press conference staged  near the site of the flood in D7,  Diep rushed toward him and was the first to greet the billionaire.   Hoang Kieu was taken back and asked: " Who are you again?"   He was expecting Councilman Tam Nguyen and Mayor Sam Liccardo.   They were trailing behind Diep.

Nguyen was connected to Hoang Kieu by the owner of Lee's Sandwiches.  His district received the most damage during the flood.  Diep's district is not in the flood zone.

People are now calling him "Young Lord Lan Diep" for his condescending manner as well as his vindictive mentality that so far blinds his ability to serve the Vietnamese-American community.

Santa Clara County Free COVID-19 Testing Site

Over the weekend, the County expanded access to COVID-19 testing by adding six new free testing sites based on the number of recent c...