[Congressional Bills 116th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 7053 Introduced in House (IH)]


  2d Session
                                H. R. 7053

To defer removal of certain nationals of Vietnam for a 24-month period, 
                        and for other purposes.



                              May 28, 2020

  Mr. Lowenthal (for himself, Ms. Norton, Mr. Correa, Mr. Khanna, Mr. 
 Rouda, Mr. Vargas, Ms. Lee of California, Mr. Johnson of Georgia, and 
Mr. Connolly) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the 
                       Committee on the Judiciary


                                 A BILL

To defer removal of certain nationals of Vietnam for a 24-month period, 
                        and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ``Honor Our Commitment Act of 2020''.


    Congress finds as follows:
            (1) From April-September 1975, the United States conducted 
        Operation New Arrival to relocate 130,000 Vietnamese refugees 
        to the United States following the end of the Vietnam War.
            (2) During this time, more than 50,000 Vietnamese refugees 
        were processed through Camp Pendleton for Southern California.
            (3) In the 4 decades since refugees fled Vietnam, 
        Vietnamese Americans have weaved their stories into the 
        American fabric.
            (4) The biggest concentration of Vietnamese American is in 
        Orange County, California, followed by San Jose (California), 
        Houston (Texas), Seattle (Washington), Northern Virginia, and 
        New Orleans (Louisiana).
            (5) According to the 2010 census, Vietnamese is the 6th 
        most commonly spoken language in the United States.
            (6) Immigrant communities face significant problems 
        assimilating as a result of the trauma of war. A 2018 study 
        published by Rashmi Gangamma and Daran Shipman in the Journal 
        of Marital and Family Therapy noted that ``the traumatic nature 
        of (immigrant's) forced displacement flight, and resettlement 
        can increase vulnerability to mental distress.''. First 
        generation immigrants are especially vulnerable to gang 
        violence within communities in which their parents cannot guide 
        with cultural or political comfortability.
            (7) In 2008, the United States and Vietnam signed a 
        bilateral repatriation agreement, hereafter known as the 2008 
        Vietnam-U.S. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
            (8) According to Section 2, Article 2 of the 2008 Vietnam-
        U.S. MOU, ``Vietnamese citizens are not subject to return to 
        Vietnam under this Agreement if they arrived in the United 
        States before July 12, 1995, the date on which diplomatic 
        relations were re-established between the U.S. Government and 
        the Vietnamese Government. The U.S. Government and the 
        Vietnamese Government maintain their respective legal positions 
        relative to Vietnamese citizens who departed Vietnam for the 
        United States prior to that date''.
            (9) The United States under President George Bush and 
        President Barack Obama recognized the 2008 Vietnam-U.S. MOU's 
        protection for pre-1995 refugees from deportation.
            (10) In 2019, President Trump's Administration began to 
        renegotiate the 2008 Vietnam-U.S. MOU to expand the categories 
        of immigrants it could deport, including permanent residents 
        who have committed certain minor crimes and others who came to 
        the United States as children after the Vietnam War.
            (11) In February 2018, Asian Americans Advancing Justice's 
        Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Atlanta 
        filed a class action lawsuit in the name of Orange County 
        resident Hoang Trinh and six other refugees who all came to the 
        U.S. before the 1995 date and became legal permanent residents. 
        Due to criminal convictions, they all lost their green cards, 
        making them subject to deportation. Under the 2008 Vietnam-U.S. 
        MOU, they should be protected from deportation. The refugees 
        were held in prolonged detention in violation of a 2001 U.S. 
        Supreme Court decision restricting overlong detention.
            (12) In August 2018, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney 
        ruled that the plaintiffs in the class action presented a 
        plausible claim that the government is now not abiding by a 
        ``longstanding practice of not removing pre-1995 Vietnamese 
        immigrants and by the 2008 diplomatic agreement.''.


    (a) Deferral of Removal.--Except as provided in subsection (b), an 
alien may not be removed for the 24-month period beginning on the date 
of enactment of this Act if the alien--
            (1) is a national of Vietnam;
            (2) has been ordered removed to Vietnam at any time before 
        the date of enactment of this Act; and
            (3) resided in the United States on or before July 12, 
    (b) Deferral Not Applicable to Certain Aliens.--Subsection (a) 
shall not apply to an alien if--
            (1) the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that the 
        alien's removal is necessary based upon credible facts that the 
        alien is directly responsible for specific and significant harm 
        to the security of the United States; or
            (2) the alien is subject to extradition.
    (c) Employment Authorization.--Upon application to the Secretary of 
Homeland Security, an alien whose removal is deferred pursuant to this 
            (1) shall be authorized to engage in employment during the 
        24-month period described in subsection (a); and
            (2) shall be issued an employment authorization document 
        that remains valid during such period.
    (d) Implementation.--The Secretary of Homeland Security shall take 
the necessary steps to implement--
            (1) the deferral of removal authorized under this section; 
            (2) the authorization of employment described in subsection 


    (a) In General.--Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment 
of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide notice of 
the provisions of this Act to each alien who--
            (1) is a national of Vietnam; and
            (2) has a final order of removal.
    (b) Contents of Notice.--The notice required under subsection (a) 
shall include clear instructions explaining the requirements for an 
alien to file a motion to reopen a proceeding under section 240 of the 
Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1229a) based on changed 
country conditions.


    The Secretary of Homeland Security may not detain an alien whose 
removal is deferred pursuant to this Act on the basis of the alien's 
immigration status in the United States or as a result of a motion 
filed by the alien to reopen a proceeding under section 240 of the 
Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1229a).


    (a) Review.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an 
individual or entity who has been harmed by a violation of this Act may 
file an action in an appropriate district court of the United States to 
seek declaratory or injunctive relief.
    (b) Rule of Construction.--Nothing in this Act may be construed to 
preclude an action filed pursuant to subsection (a) from proceeding as 
a class action (as such term is defined in section 1711 of title 28, 
United States Code).