September 14, 2023


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Representatives Lou Correa (D-CA) and Michelle Steel (R-CA), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Vietnam Caucus, introduced the bipartisan Honor Our Commitment Act, which would codify protections afforded to Vietnamese refugees in the United States under a 2008 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the U.S. and Vietnam.

The bill would specifically prohibit the deportation of refugees who came to the U.S. prior to July 12, 1995 in the wake of the Vietnam War. The Honor Our Commitment Act was first introduced in 2021 after an agreement was signed between Vietnam and the Trump Administration, which allowed for the deportation of pre-1995 Vietnamese refugees in the U.S, in contradiction of the 2008 MOU.

"The majority of individuals who escaped Vietnam were South Vietnamese who fought alongside and assisted the United States during the war," Correa said. "Returning these refugees to Vietnam poses a threat to their lives, liberty, and security. That’s why our nation must keep our commitment to those who fought alongside us. These Vietnamese refugees have earned the right to be in America—and we cannot return them to a country they left decades ago, tearing apart thousands of families and causing significant disruption to immigrant and refugee communities across the United States."

"After the fall of Saigon, thousands of men, women, and children came to the United States in search of freedom,” Steel said. “It is our duty to keep our promises to these Vietnamese Americans, who value democracy and liberty above all else. I urge my colleges to join me in supporting this legislation and protecting our fellow Americans."

BACKGROUND: On July 12, 1995 the U.S. formally established diplomatic relations with the communist Vietnamese government. The 2008 MOU was signed by the George W. Bush Administration. Under the Honor Our Commitments Act, a Vietnamese national who arrived in the U.S. on or before July 12, 1995 and has continuously resided in the U.S. since, and is subject to a final order of removal, cannot be detained or deported. The legislation provides exceptions for cases in which the individual is determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security to be directly responsible for harming the security of the U.S., or the individual is subject to criminal extradition. 

The oldest, largest, and most prominent Little Saigon is centered in Orange County, California, where nearly 200,000 Vietnamese-Americans reside. Rep. Correa has represented Little Saigon for decades, since beginning his career in public service in the California State Assembly. With other Southern California counties, this region constitutes the largest Vietnamese-American population outside of Vietnam.

You can read the full text of the legislation HERE.