Under a memorandum of understanding signed in Hanoi, Vietnam agreed to accept the return of those Vietnamese immigrants ordered deported by the United States, many of whom are convicted criminals, said Kelly A. Nantel, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency. Until now, Vietnam had generally refused to issue travel documents for the deportees.
The agreement immediately affects about 1,500 Vietnamese immigrants who came to the United States after diplomatic relations with Vietnam were restored on July 12, 1995, Ms. Nantel said. The head of the agency, Julie L. Myers, was in Hanoi on Tuesday to sign the memorandum, which takes effect in 60 days and will last for five years.
“This agreement allows us to carry out a judge’s order to remove individuals from our country in a safe and humane manner,” Ms. Myers said.
The agreement culminated 10 years of negotiations between the two countries, Ms. Nantel said. In all, about 8,000 Vietnamese immigrants in the United States are in deportation proceedings or have received final orders to be deported, Ms. Nantel said. Of those, she said, about 7,000 have criminal convictions, including some 4,500 Vietnamese convicted of aggravated felonies.
Only about 200 Vietnamese immigrants slated for deportation are in the custody of immigration authorities, Ms. Nantel said. Because