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Cablegate: Limited Progress to Date On Implementing Changes

VZCZCXYZ0032
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHC #7870 0522359
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 212356Z FEB 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK IMMEDIATE 0556
INFO RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI IMMEDIATE 6107
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR IMMEDIATE 8170
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON IMMEDIATE 6759
RUEHVN/AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE IMMEDIATE 2767

UNCLAS STATE 017870

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BM LA PREF PREL TH
SUBJECT: LIMITED PROGRESS TO DATE ON IMPLEMENTING CHANGES
TO THE INA FOR REFUGEE CASES

REF: BANGKOK 266 REQUEST FOR GUIDANCE ON NEW REFUGEE
PROCESSING LEGISLATION

1. Summary: In response to reftel, this message provides an
update on the Administration's efforts to implement
the changes to the Immigration and Nationality Act resulting
from section 691 (Division J) of the Omnibus Appropriations
Act for FY08
(Kyl/Leahy amendment). PRM met on February 21st with
representatives of DHS Policy and Office of the General
Counsel , DHS/USCIS, DHS/ICE, and DOJ to discuss an
implementation plan particularly pertaining to refugee cases.
Since some 50% of the refugee cases worldwide affected by
material support are in Thailand and Malaysia, PRM focused
much of the discussion on steps that are required in order to
grant cases, overturn denials, and to cease putting cases no
longer subject to inadmissibility on hold. Finding solutions
for these applicants which will permit those eligible to be
admitted to the US is a top priority. As you are aware,
however, most of the actions necessary to move forward fall
to DHS. The DHS representatives reported that they have
issued interim guidance (which we asked to see but have not
received a copy) and are developing final field guidance to
implement these changes in the INA. They are also drafting a
proposal for a new exemption for those who engaged in combat
on behalf of any of the 10 groups removed from Tier III under
Kyle Leahy. Pending the issuance of additional field
guidance, DHS confirmed that their officers in the field have
been told to continue to put material support cases on hold
and use the exemption process. Jock Scharfen, DHS/USCIS
Deputy Director, and Barbara Strack, DHS/USCIS Refugee Corps
Director should provide Post with additional details when
they are in Thailand next week. End Summary

2. Newly Interviewed Cases Still Being Placed on Hold:
DHS confirmed field officers will continue to put newly
interviewed cases on hold for material support to the groups
for whom exemptions are already in place and continue to use
the exemption process to review the cases and make decisions.
We stressed that doing so uses scarce DHS/Bangkok and OPE
resources for cases that will no longer require an exemption.
We noted that approximately 100 individuals per week in
Thailand are being placed on hold for material support,
mostly to the KNU and the CNF, both of which are no longer
Tier III terrorist organizations. The DHS representatives
could not provide an estimate of when the additional field
guidance would be completed. We request that Post raise this
issue with Scharfen and Strack.

3. A Few Old Cases May NOW Be Approved Without Use of New
Exemptions:
PRM has identified a small group of cases previously
adjudicated in Thailand and Malaysia that were put on hold
for grounds that could not be exempted (the most prominent
being tax collectors for the Chin National Front) and
subsequently closed but that may now be readily approved ,
since the CNF and the KNU are no longer considered terrorist
organizations. DHS has agreed to review a small number of
cases that may be approved on this basis. PRM/A will
coordinate with DHS Headquarters, Regional Refugee
Coordinator, and OPE Director to identify appropriate cases
for review and present them to DHS asap.

4. Combatants Will Need a New Exemption:
An initial review of the closed cases from Tham Hin indicates
that more than half the caseload involved individuals who
engaged in active combat. As such, a new exemption for
engaging in combat (which falls within the definition of
terrorist activity in the INA) will be required for these
cases to become approvable. DHS informed us that they are
already drafting a proposal for an exemption for combatants
who fought on behalf of one of the groups removed from Tier
III. We asked DHS to agree to a public information campaign
for this population once the exemption has been approved.

5. Petchaboon Hmong
PRM raised this issue at the meeting. DHS/USCIS
representatives will be prepared to discuss in Bangkok next
week this potential caseload and how the Hmong waiver and the
changes to the INA could affect their eligibility for
admission to the United States. They understand that UNHCR
is interested in understanding USCIS' position in advance of
referring cases.
RICE

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