Cablegate: 5th Humanitarian Resettlement Process Joint Working Group

DE RUEHHM #0030/01 0070530
R 070530Z JAN 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

HO CHI MIN 00000030 001.2 OF 003

1. (U) Summary: During the fifth Humanitarian Resettlement
(HR) Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting on December 13,
discussion centered on plans to conclude the process and was
generally productive. The two sides agreed on a final round of
Public Information Outreach (PIO) throughout southern Vietnam to
take place over two weeks in January 2008 shortly before Tet.
We related the necessity for HRS's caseworkers (International
Organization for Migration (IOM) employees) after June 25, 2008,
when their visas expire per the current arrangement between the
GVN and IOM. The GVN suggested that a direct request from IOM
would be the most appropriate way to approach visa extension.
Discussions of fraud prevention led nowhere, but re-enforced our
perceptions of how much more our two countries could cooperate.
GVN sensitivity to criticism was manifested both in our
discussion of fraud prevention and in their complaint near the
end of the meeting about the 2007 Vietnam Human Rights Act. End

Progress to Date
2. (U) Post hosted the Fifth session of the JWG. Representing
the GVN were Le Xuan Vien, Deputy Director of the Ministry of
Public Security's (MPS) Department of Immigration and
Emigration, and five other MPS and MFA representatives.
Representing the USG side were DPO Angela Dickey, picking up the
role previously held by former DPO Ken Chern, HRS Chief Tim
Swanson, and CIS OIC Mary Ann Russell. Both sides reviewed the
current state of the process and the work they have put into it.
HRS has received over 58,000 HR applications. Almost 54,000
cases (representing about 150,000 persons) have not met the
criteria for the categories open under HR and have been screened
out. USCIS has interviewed about half of the cases opened so
far. This process has resulted in 1,120 persons either already
resettled or approved for resettlement. Over 3,000 more were
either refused or found not qualified at interview.

3. (U) Vien announced that the GVN has issued a total of 7,800
passports to persons who notified the GVN that they were HR
applicants; 800 of those passports were issued since April 2007.
The GVN has provided 176 responses to USG re-education release
certificate verification requests. More are still pending. It
has proven difficult to secure confirmation of some records
because some localities have been redistricted and renamed many
times in the intervening years with consequent shifts in the
location of, or responsibility for, their records. Vien said
that his office has sent some records to as many as six or seven
provinces without success, but that they were still trying.

Public Information Outreach
4. (U) The two sides had agreed to a final round of PIO at the
fourth JWG in May. The USG proposed to add three sentences to
the message emphasizing the process's end and the need to apply
as quickly as possible. The GVN agreed in principal to the
change. The DPO remarked that the PIO should be as far reaching
and as thorough as possible so that anyone who was qualified and
interested in HR would learn about it and be able to apply. The
USG asked that the PIO be as long as possible and that the
message be broadcast or printed as many times as possible in all
34 provinces from Quang Tri south. Given the approach of Tet,
the USG suggested having the PIO in late February as the
audience would not be distracted with the upcoming holiday and
because advertising costs before Tet could be relatively

5. (U) Vien noted that based on their discussions with media
outlets, a two week PIO was feasible given the budget available.
The GVN side initially indicated that there would only be one
newspaper, one television, and one radio announcement each per
province, they then stated that two announcements in each media
form would be possible. Vien suggested that it would be
psychologically more effective to have the PIO before Tet, which
would allow potential applicants to discuss whether to apply
during the family gatherings over the holiday. It would also
allow for wider word of mouth dissemination because of the great
amount of Tet-related travel just after the PIO. The USG side
accepted this recommendation.

Completing the Process
6. (U) The U.S. side noted that USCIS has yet to interview
about half of the screened in cases and that it expects to
screen in about 700 more cases, including many of the cases
currently pending re-education camp release certificate
verification. The length of time required for verifications is

HO CHI MIN 00000030 002.2 OF 003

one of the largest variables in predicting the process's end.
Since USCIS is planning four circuit rides to HCMC in 2008,
rather that the three we had planned on earlier, it is possible
that the entire caseload will be interviewed before 2009. The
US side emphasized that this is dependent on whether our
expatriate caseworkers employed on contract by the International
Organization for Migration (IOM) are able to work after the HR
application period ends on June 25, 2008. The USG side also
noted that the expatriate caseworkers are also involved in Visas
93, McCain, and Priority One processing. Given these cases and
the likelihood that some HR cases would be pended and take
considerably longer to conclude, the USG side informed the GVN
that it was possible that one or two IOM expatriates would be
needed for a few years after the conclusion of HR. Ministry of
Foreign Affairs Consular Department Deputy Chief Nguyen Thanh
Thuy recommended that this issue be raised with MFA Consular
through a diplomatic note from IOM once there was a more
concrete knowledge of the likely need for such personnel.

Fraud Prevention - Not Yet
7. (SBU) While verification of re-education release
certificates has been valuable, in a number of cases the US side
informed the GVN that the verification result is difficult to
rectify with other facts. Vien, with some heat, stated that the
verifications were confirmations of GVN records and as such were
absolutely accurate. He went on that it was possible that the
actual document presented in a given case might not be genuine
and that the person who submitted it might have gotten it
through a broker. If the latter was true, the applicant may not
even know where the document came from. If the document was
"verified" that did not mean that MPS guaranteed that it had
issued that particular piece of paper. Rather it meant that the
data on the document matched MPS records. The US side
elaborated that there were a number of possible reasons for the
detected discrepancies, imposters being one of them. The two
sides agreed to look further at this problem on a case by case

8. (SBU) The two sides also discussed add-on family members.
The US side asked the GVN again to inform us when they detected
such problems, especially since this could relate to alien
smuggling and permanent ineligibility to enter the United
States. The GVN side, seemingly amused that in this instance
U.S. law is much harsher than Vietnamese law, repeated its
response to this request. In such cases, persons are barred
from exiting Vietnam for five years. The GVN side (not very
helpfully) said we would be able to recognize such cases by the
ban itself. Earlier in the meeting, Vien had mentioned that the
two countries should cooperate closely to manage immigration and
that a list of all HR applicants (the so-called "List A") would
help the GVN do this.

Unpleasant Business
9. (SBU) The GVN declined to add any specific items to the
agenda, but under "Other Business," Vien rather unexpectedly
raised the 2007 Vietnam Human Rights Bill that has passed in the
U.S. House of Representatives. He said that Vietnam was "very
sad" about its contents -- particularly the items relating to
"refugee." He asked where the bill's authors had gotten their
information about Vietnam and the refugee situation here. He
asked what State had or had not done with regard to the bill and
implored the U.S. side to convey Vietnam's unhappiness with the
bill, and to inform the U.S. Senate about the bill's
inaccuracies. He repeatedly emphasized that Vietnam allows its
citizens the freedom to immigrate, contrary to the bill's
portrayal of the situation. The DPO agreed to pass on these
concerns, but recommended that the Vietnamese Embassy in
Washington could do much more to cultivate ties with Congress
and better represent the GVN's point of view in Washington.

10. (SBU) In contrast to earlier in the process, the GVN
expressed no great interest in fixing a date for the fifth
meeting. Previously the GVN had been punctilious about trying
to schedule JWG meetings on a quarterly basis as stated in the
agreement on HR. In reality, there have been too few discussion
items to justify meeting so frequently, and the GVN now seems to
have come around to this point of view. Vien suggested that the
next, and final, meeting of the JWG could take place in late
June after the end of the application period. He also reminded
the U.S. side about A/S Sauerbrey's idea of a working visit to
the U.S. (a possible volvis) so that GVN officials could observe
USG and NGO operations -- essentially how civil society works --
particularly in the contexts of the resettlement process and
working with ethnic minority communities. He wondered if such a

HO CHI MIN 00000030 003.2 OF 003

trip could be in conjunction with a final JWG meeting.

11. (U) Comment: The productive and positive aspects of the
meeting went according to our expectations and the tone was
cooperative, if not really effusive. The GVN continues to be
sensitive to critique as shown by the reaction to the VNHRA and
their perception that our questions about re-education release
certificate verifications impugned the integrity of the
verification process.

12. (U) Comment continued: JWG members and a number of local
and provincial officials in the Central Highlands separately
have expressed interest in learning more about civil society in
the United States. A volvis combining these officials as well
as national-level officials responsible for ethnic minority
affairs could be made to showcase civil society in the U.S. For
instance, it could include a segment in Washington on
national-level policies and coordination, a visit to a Native
American community in New Mexico, and another visit of a local
volunteer agency participating in refugee resettlement from
Vietnam and elsewhere. This could advance U.S. interests in
promoting civil society and greater space for NGO's in Vietnam
by showing Vietnamese officials how civil society and social
services operate in the U.S. End comment.

© Scoop Media

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