Cablegate: Sunset for the Mccain Amendment
DE RUEHHM #0892/01 2420402
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 300402Z AUG 07
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3046
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 0311
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 2156
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 3253
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000892
STATE FOR PRM AND EAP/MLS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF VM
SUBJECT: SUNSET FOR THE MCCAIN AMENDMENT
REF: REF A: O-I 103/07 REF B: 05 HCMC 074
1. This is an action request. See paragraphs 10 and 11.
2. Summary: Mission Vietnam supports the reauthorization of
the McCain Amendment (ref A). At the same time, the exact
reauthorization needs to be handled carefully in order to allow
the program to progress and eventually wind down in a manner
that is both equitable and in keeping with clear U.S. interests.
We therefore propose that there should be a cutoff date for
submitting new McCain Amendment applications of June 25, 2008.
We chose this date because it fits with the overall Humanitarian
Resettlement process and will allow time for all applications
received before the cut-off date to be fully processed before
the McCain Amendment would expire at the end of FY2009. End
1,000 Cases Still Pending
3. Mission Vietnam welcomes the possible reauthorization of the
McCain Amendment in the FY 2008 State and Foreign Operations
Appropriations Bill. The reauthorization language is contained
in Title VI, "Special Authorities" Section 634(f) and amends
Section 594(a) of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and
Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2005 (enacted as division D
of Public Law 108-447; 118 Stat. 3038) by striking 'and 2007'
and inserting 'through 2009'. Ref A transmitted this to Mission.
4. This measure would keep the McCain Amendment in effect
through the current Humanitarian Resettlement (HR) process. If
this measure is not passed, the McCain Amendment will expire at
the end of this fiscal year, ending the eligibility of more than
1000 individuals who have applied but have not yet been
interviewed by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
About half of these are eligible for USCIS interview at the
moment, but have not been scheduled for interview due to a lack
of USCIS adjudicators. Others are still waiting for their cases
to be processed prior to reaching the point of a USCIS
5. There will be no more USCIS interviews for HR applicants
this fiscal year. Anticipating the lapse of the McCain
Amendment, the Humanitarian Resettlement Section (HRS) filled as
many interview slots as possible during the last circuit ride
with pre-HR McCain Amendment applicants. Virtually all of these
cases were either interviewed or could not be contacted. HRS
gave priority for the remaining slots to HR-HO cases with McCain
children that were ready to interview.
6. The next USCIS circuit ride is planned for mid-October to
mid-December. HRS anticipates that the McCain Amendment will be
lapsed at that time so is filling interview slots with cases
that do not have McCain add-ons. Presuming that the McCain
Amendment is re-authorized, HRS will schedule interview slots
for later circuit rides as normal -- generally first in, first
out with expedited treatment for age-out cases. This should
take care of overhang McCain-related cases that will develop
until the provision is reauthorized. Processing without these
appointment considerations is more efficient as it takes extra
work to fill interview slots out of turn and USCIS adjudicators
can handle 25% more cases per day if McCains are included.
Three existing McCain cases contain members in danger of aging
out even if the provision is reauthorized: in January, April,
and June of 2008 respectively.
7. Reauthorization of the McCain Amendment for the proposed
period will allow all of those resettled under HR-HO to be
joined by their single adult children. If it is not
reauthorized, a majority of applicants will not have that
opportunity. HR applications will be accepted until June 25,
2008. Mission expects that all HR applicants will have been
adjudicated by USCIS well before the end of FY 2009 if the
current pattern of USCIS circuit rides continues. Thus, there
will be no need for another reauthorization.
An Efficient, Humane Sunset
8. While Mission believes reauthorizing the McCain Amendment
through the end of FY 2009 is in the best interest of U.S.
policy and goals, there are multiple reasons why there should be
an earlier cut-off date for accepting new applications. First,
we note that the end of the HR process will coincide with the
end of the Humanitarian Resettlement Section and its processing
capabilities as they now exist. Thus, HRS's ability to process
new McCain cases after June 2008 will be sharply diminished as
it will be focusing on closing existing cases as quickly as
possible with a shrinking staff. Second, as noted in Ref B, the
GVN expects refugee processing related to the ODP categories to
end when Humanitarian Resettlement does. While McCain cases are
not mentioned in the Understanding on HR between the two sides,
they are dependent solely on one category that HR re-opened.
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Third, it will become increasingly difficult to schedule
interviews for McCain applicants as USCIS adjudicates the final
HR applicants in early to mid-2009. Lastly, if applications are
accepted up to the last day of the life of the program, there
will inevitably be a number of people whose applications cannot
be processed before the end of the program. While we certainly
cannot predict in advance, there could be hundreds of cases that
expire without ever being processed to conclusion, leaving us in
much the same predicament as we are in today.
9. It would be most humane to avoid raising expectations that
cannot be met. Therefore Mission believes that the cutoff for
receiving new McCain Amendment applications should coincide with
the end of the Humanitarian Resettlement application period.
Any other close-out date for the McCain applications would cause
excessive confusion and hinder our own ability to plan a logical
conclusion to the HR program. We therefore recommend June 25,
2008, as the date certain for ending acceptance of new McCain
10. Action requested: Mission believes that the McCain
Amendment should be expeditiously reauthorized for the period
proposed and requests Department support for the
11. Action requested: If the McCain Amendment is renewed, that
the Department authorize a cutoff date for receiving new McCain
Amendment applications that corresponds with the end of the
Humanitarian Resettlement Process -- June 25, 2008.
12. This message was coordinated with Embassy Hanoi.