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Rep. Steel Joins Colleagues to Urge Vice President Harris to Address Human Rights Issues in Vietnam

August 17, 2021

Washington, D.C. –  In advance of Vice President Kamala Harris’s trip to Vietnam, Rep. Michelle Steel (CA-48) joined Reps. Lou Correa (CA-46) and Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) in a letter urging the Vice President to address human rights issues and requesting that American citizens living in Vietnam be given equal access to COVID-19 vaccines provided by the U.S. government.

"The reports of continued abuses in Vietnam, including crackdown of a free press and jailing peaceful dissidents, are deeply concerning. I join my colleagues in urging Vice President Harris to stand up for basic human rights. The people of Vietnam also need expanded access to the COVID-19 vaccine and I hope the Administration continues to push Vietnamese officials to distribute these vaccines without prejudice," saidRep. Michelle Steel.

Rep. Lou Correa said, “During her first visit to Vietnam to promote the Biden Administration’s “America is Back” message, Vice President Harris must remind Vietnam that democracy and basic human rights are the core values of the United States. We must also not leave behind the thousands of American citizens who currently work and reside in Vietnam. We have the supply and demand for vaccinations at the U.S. embassy and consulate, and we have a responsibility to Americans who want to receive the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine. I congratulate Vice President Harris on her historic visit, and I look forward to continuing to work with her on these matters.”

“It is absolutely critical that Vice President Harris makes human rights a major point of discussion during her first in-person visit with the Vietnamese government,” Rep. Lowenthal said. “Vietnam's continuing desire to be an equal member of the international community cannot be untethered from their dismal human rights record. While the U.S. should do what we can to assist the Vietnamese people during this global pandemic, we must make it clear that our nation will continue to hold the Vietnamese government accountable for their human rights abuses.”

Congressman Correa, Congressman Alan Lowenthal, and Congresswoman Michelle Steel each represent Little Saigon, which has the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam.

In the letter, the lawmakers wrote:

“We understand that it is the administration’s policy not to tell the countries how to distribute the vaccine. However, there are more than 100,000 U.S. citizens living and working in Vietnam, and we urge you to consider the responsibility of the United States to our citizens abroad and allow the U.S. embassy and consulate in Vietnam to provide COVID-19 vaccines to U.S. citizens immediately. This effort would protect Americans without having to jump ahead on the waitlist and allow the Vietnamese government to comfortably vaccinate their citizens on their own schedule.”

Read the full text of the letter here.