Flashback: Jerry Brown, Biden and other Dems refused to accept Vietnamese refugees

by WorldTribune Staff, January 30, 2017

Some liberal Democrats are fighting back tears when discussing President Donald Trump’s travel ban on Muslims from seven nations.

But in 1975, leftist Dems went to great lengths to keep Vietnamese refugees (even orphans) out of the United States.

During his first stint as governor, Jerry Brown fought to stop Vietnamese refugees from being delivered to California. /AP

Trump issued the order, the White House said, so that a better system to vet refugees coming from those nations can be put into place.

The Democrat complaints in 1975 appeared to center on the fact that the refugees were escaping communism, an ideology, analysts say, liberals did not find that objectionable.

Leading the effort to ban the Vietnamese refugees was California’s Gov. Jerry Brown. Other prominent Democrats calling for the ban were Delaware’s Sen. Joe Biden, former presidential “peace candidate” George McGovern, and New York Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman.

Julia Taft, who in 1975 headed up President Gerald Ford’s Inter-agency Task Force on Indochinese refugee resettlement, told author Larry Engelmann in his book, “Tears Before the Rain: An Oral History of the Fall of South Vietnam” that “the new governor of California, Jerry Brown, was very concerned about refugees settling in his state.”

National Public Radio host Debbie Elliott retraced Brown’s refusal to accept any refugees in a January 2007 interview with Taft. According to a transcript, which was aired on its flagship program, “All Things Considered,” Taft said, “our biggest problem came from California due to Brown.” She called his rejection of Vietnamese refugees “a moral blow.”

Taft recalled another reason liberals opposed the refugees: “They said they had too many Hispanics, too many people on welfare, they didn’t want these people.”

“They didn’t want any of these refugees, because they had also unemployment,” she told NPR.

“They had already a large number of foreign-born people there. They had – they said they had too many Hispanics, too many people on welfare, they didn’t want these people.”

Author Larry Clinton Thompson recounted in his book, “Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus,” that Brown said, “We can’t be looking 5,000 miles away and at the same time neglecting people who live here.”

The CQ Almanac shows New York’s Elizabeth Holtzman – who was one of the House’s most visible liberal congresswomen — opposed helping the Vietnamese refugees. She said, according to CQ Almanac, “some of her constituents felt that the same assistance and compassion was not being shown to the elderly, unemployed and poor in this country.”

Rep. Donald Riegle, a liberal representative from Michigan who later would serve as its senator, offered an amendment that would have barred funds for the refugees unless similar assistance was given to Americans. The amendment was rejected by the House, 346 to 71, according to the Almanac.

Another House Democrat even tried to slow down the airlift of Vietnamese orphans. The Almanac reported that Rep. Joshua Eilberg, the Democratic chairman of the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and International Law, accused the Ford administration of having acted “with unnecessary haste” in the evacuation of the orphans.

Then-Sen. Joe Biden tried to slow down the refugee bill in the Senate, complaining that he needed more details about the quickly unfolding refugee problem before he would support it. He said the White House “had not informed Congress adequately about the number of refugees,” according to the Library of Congress history of the legislation.

Quang X. Pham, who was born in Saigon and later served as a Marine pilot in the Persian Gulf War, later criticized Biden in an op-ed published by the Washington Post on December 30, 2006. Quang wrote, Biden “charged that the [Ford] Administration had not informed Congress adequately about the number of refugees — as if anyone actually knew during the chaotic evacuation.”

Twenty years later, another Democrat was getting a standing ovation in Congress for demanding stronger border defenses, and deporting criminal illegal immigrants.

In his 1995 State of the Union address, President Bill Clinton said:

“We are a nation of immigrants.. but we are a nation of laws. Our nation is rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country…

“Illegal immigrants take jobs from citizens or legal immigrants, they impose burdens on our taxpayers…

“That is why we are doubling the number of border guards, deporting more illegal immigrants than ever before, cracking down on illegal hiring, barring benefits to illegal aliens, and we will do more to speed the deportation of illegal immigrants arrested for crimes…

“It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws that has occurred in the last few years.. .and we must do more to stop it.”

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