The legal status of Vietnamese asylum-seekers has not been defined in a consistently principled way. Initially, the Vietnamese boat people benefitted from a presumption of genuine refugee status codified at the 1979 Conference on Indochinese Refugees. As refugees, the Vietnamese were offered both temporary asylum in Asia and permanent resettlement overseas.
Hathaway, James C. "Labelling the 'Boat People': The Failure of the Human Rights Mandate of the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indochinese Refugees." Human Rights Quarterly 15, no. 4 (1993): 686-702. (Work published when author not on Michigan Law faculty.)