Democratic presidential front-runner Joseph R. Biden, who has denounced President Trump’s efforts against Central American asylum-seekers, vigorously opposed resettling as refugees South Vietnamese who had helped the U.S. during the war.
The Washington Examiner reported Thursday, citing records from the administration of President Gerald R. Ford, that as a U.S. senator, Mr. Biden tried to deny refuge to hundreds of thousands fleeing the imminent North Vietnamese victory and likely Communist persecution.
Mr. Biden’s arguments about refugees reverse what he and other Democrats now insist are the only moral stances, saying that the U.S. had “no obligation, moral or otherwise, to evacuate foreign nationals,” the Examiner reported.
“The United States has no obligation to evacuate one — or 100,001 — South Vietnamese,” Mr. Biden said then.
In an April 1975 meeting at the White House with Ford and several of his top foreign-policy officials including Henry Kissinger, Mr. Biden said he would not vote to fund evacuation of non-Americans.
“We should focus on getting [U.S. troops] out. Getting the Vietnamese out and military aid for the [South Vietnam’s government] are totally different,” he said.
Mr. Kissinger told Mr. Biden and others in the Senate delegation that there were anywhere from 170,000 to a million South Vietnamese “to whom we have an obligation,” but the Delaware senator, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, denied that.
“I will vote for any amount for getting the Americans out. I don’t want it mixed with getting the Vietnamese out,” Mr. Biden said, speaking two weeks before the fall of Saigon.
This angered Ford, calling such a refusal a betrayal of American values in terms similar to what Democrats say about Mr. Trump in 2019.
“We opened our door to the Hungarians. … Our tradition is to welcome the oppressed,” Ford said.
In a Miami Herald op-ed column last month, Mr. Biden called the Trump administration’s efforts to keep out or discourage asylum seekers at the border, “actions that subvert American values.”
Mr. Biden didn’t get his way on opening American doors to endangered South Vietnamese.
He was one of only three Foreign Relations panel members to vote against Ford’s funding request and one of just 14 to do so on the Senate floor.
More than 130,000 South Vietnamese fleeing the victorious Communists were eventually evacuated and granted refuge in the U.S.
• Victor Morton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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