As a freshman senator in 1975, Joe Biden joined Sen. Robert Byrd (D., W.Va.) in opposing legislation allowing 130,000 Vietnam War refugees asylum in the United States, including thousands of children.
President Gerald Ford proposed a Vietnam refugee relief program that would settle thousands of Vietnamese and Cambodian families in the United States. The bill was met with resistance from a Democratic majority in Congress. Sen. Byrd cited fear of admitting “undesirables” such as “barmaids, prostitutes, and criminals” to the country.
Biden also took issue with Ford’s proposal. During a Foreign Relations Committee hearing with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Biden announced his concern with welcoming the refugees, charging that the Senate had not been informed of the number of refugees that the White House intended to offer safe harbor to.