The latest addition to the US administration’s immigration policies may see thousands of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants being deported.

On December 10, the US and Vietnamese governments discussed the dissolution of a repatriation agreement that was signed in 2008, the Houston Chronicle reported. The agreement previously barred the deportation and removal of Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the US before July 12, 1995.

If Vietnam agrees to dissolve the agreement, which was scheduled to be renewed in January, around 9,000 Vietnamese immigrants could be forced to leave the US.

Many lawyers say that the dissolution of the agreement would deal a severe blow to a vulnerable population.

Quyen Dinh, the executive director of the Southeast Asian Resource Action Center in Washington, DC, said the original agreement was extremely important in providing relief and protection for those who entered the United States as refugees.

Dinh added that amendments to US immigration law passed in 1996 made sure that non-citizens who commit even the smallest of crimes can see their offenses re-classified as aggravated felonies, which could get them deported easily.

Those who entered the country without any papers before 1995, who by now have long established their lives in the US, could also be affected by the policy change. That could affect thousands of families.