The Vietnam War, which ended 35 years ago, claimed four more casualties today.
Sadly, the victims are a former South Vietnam army sergeant, who was captured and tortured by communist soldiers during the war, and three members of his family.
But the perpetrators aren't in Hanoi or some far away jungle. They aren't even communists. They are U.S. government officials.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has okayed the government's desire to deport Trung Van Truong, his wife, Nga Thi Lu, and their two adult children, Martina and Paolo Truong.
The reason? Though the Truongs have lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years, they entered the country on tourist visas and never applied for citizenship after they say they were repeatedly targeted by pro-Hanoi assassins while living in Italy.
Were the assassination attempts plausible? Immigration officials have repeatedly called Truong's story credible. After all, Truong spent four years serving in a post-war, anti-communist underground in Vietnam before escaping in 1979. Following a stint in a United Nation's refugee camp in Malaysia, the family was sent to live in Italy.
In 1995, U.S. immigration officials charged the family with overstaying their U.S. visas and ordered them to move out of the country within 30 days. That decision led to the current court case. Although the government wants the Truongs deported, numerous officials who've reviewed the situation have noted their sympathy for the family--especially because the father "had fought on behalf of the United States-backed South Vietnamese Army."
In a concurring opinion, Justice Stephen Reinhardt called the Truongs' plight "unfortunate" and suggested that while the court couldn't overturn the government's order, "immigration officials retain considerable discretion to achieve a just result for the Truong family and others in their situation."
Added Reinhardt, "There are many undocumented individuals, especially those who have committed serious crimes, who are far more deserving of deportation by the immigration authorities than are the young members of the Truong family, or even their parents."
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly