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Cablegate: 6th Humanitarian Resettlement Process Joint Working Group

VZCZCXRO4294
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHNH
DE RUEHHM #1093/01 3590801
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 240801Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5249
INFO RUEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 5479

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HO CHI MINH CITY 001093

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR PRM, PRM/A AND EAP/MLS

DHS FOR USCIS OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS AND REFUGEE
CORPS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PREL VM
SUBJECT: 6TH HUMANITARIAN RESETTLEMENT PROCESS JOINT WORKING GROUP
MEETING, NOVEMBER 14, 2008

HO CHI MIN 00001093 001.2 OF 003


1. (U) Summary: During the sixth and final Humanitarian
Resettlement process (HR) Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting on
November 14, the USG and GVN evaluated the HR process, its
impact, and modalities for bringing it to conclusion. The GVN
stated that exemplary bilateral cooperation on the process boded
well for future endeavors together. On the other hand, the GVN
lamented that the approval rate was so low, indicative of much
effort for little result. The GVN called for USG immigration
policy to place more emphasis on family re-unification. We
noted that notwithstanding a high level of public interest, few
applicants were being approved because the qualifying events
took place 30 to 40 years ago. The GVN stated unequivocally
that it would continue to cooperate on HR and other resettlement
processes, but reiterated its opinion that HR should have
completely concluded by June 25 and that the Humanitarian
Resettlement Section (HRS) should have closed then.
Consequently, the GVN considered the JWG's work as having
finished; therefore, a different mechanism for ongoing
resettlement cooperation would be needed. We explained the
circumstances -- including document verifications we need back
from the GVN -- why we cannot fix a date certain for the
complete closure of all HRS activities. The GVN asked the USG to
provide in writing its plans to complete HR processing. The
meeting atmosphere was collegial, and the GVN's (largely
pro-forma) complaints were mild in tone. The JWG-level
consensus between the two governments is that HR has
successfully shown that there is no further need for
resettlement based on ODP categories because there are very few
people left who might qualify. That said, HR has shown both
governments that tens, if not hundreds of thousands connected in
some way with the pre-1975 Republic of Vietnam still want to
leave Vietnam for the U.S. End summary.

2. (U) Post hosted the sixth session of the JWG on November 14
in the Humanitarian Resettlement Section's (HRS) conference
room. Representing the GVN were Le Xuan Vien, Deputy Director
of the Ministry of Public Security's (MPS) Department of
Immigration and Emigration, and seven other MPS and MFA
representatives. Representing the USG were DPO Angela Dickey,
HRS Chief Tim Swanson, and CIS OIC Mary Ann Russell. HRS
provided a statistical update on activity in the eleven months
since the fifth meeting. HRS had opened about 1,400 cases and
USCIS had adjudicated about 2,500, approving almost 500. Of the
nearly 65,000 HR applications received, only about ten percent
had been received in the final six months before June 25. The
number of applications had gone up for a few weeks after the
final PIO in January and February. One sign of the PIO's
effectiveness was that fewer than 200 applications (about 0.3
percent) arrived after the June 25 deadline. Similarly, the GVN
reported that of the more than 8,000 passports it had issued to
persons who described themselves as HR applicants, 352 came
after the fifth JWG meeting. Provincial passport offices in the
35 provinces and cities covered by the third PIO reported that
they had received thousands of inquiries about HR after the PIO,
but that most of the potential applicants did not appeared
qualified.

3. (U) Mr. Vien, who did most of the talking for the GVN,
stated that local authorities had discovered an increasing
percentage of HR cases including imposters, with 22 reported so
far. Most commonly, married children of HO applicants were
replaced with still unmarried add-on family members. The GVN
side has teased us with fraud information before in an effort to
persuade us to provide a list of all HR applicants (the
so-called "List A"), but this time, Vien stated that the GVN
would be willing to share information about these cases
indicating that some of the Principal Applicants were probably
otherwise eligible for HR. In many, if not all of these cases,
he continued, the detected fraud triggers a five-year exit ban,
so we will probably come to know of these cases anyway.

Completing the Process
----------------------
4. (U) HRS explained that about 1,400 applicants still need to
be interviewed. About 400 were to be completed by the USCIS
circuit ending in mid-December. A planned circuit ride
beginning in early February after Tet and lasting until early
April will be able to complete all remaining interviews.
However, verification results were still pending on 143
Re-education Camp Release Certificates HRS had sent to MPS.
Counting those sent by USCIS after interview, 357 verifications
were pending with 20 not yet sent. As we had previously learned
that the GVN had no means of expedited processing, we urged the
GVN to do what it could to complete the verifications quickly.


HO CHI MIN 00001093 002.2 OF 003


5. (SBU) Vien reaffirmed that the GVN will continue to
cooperate with the USG to conclude HR. However, he said that
the JWG's work concluded with this final meeting so a new
mechanism for cooperation would be needed. The term for HR
ended on June 25 and in order to continue smooth cooperation,
the USG should inform the GVN by diplomatic note of the
following:

-- The USG wishes to prolong the period for interviewing
HR and other resettlement applicants.
-- The composition, personnel, and tasks of the HRS and
International Organization for Migration (IOM) employees working
in HRS.

6. (SBU) Vien said that after receiving the diplomatic note,
his side would prepare a report for GVN decision makers on the
subject. He explained that the decision makers "had not
imagined" that HR or HRS would continue after June 25. Rather,
they thought that HRS was "born" to administer HR and that both
the process and the section would cease as of that date. He
also suggested that HRS's name be changed. Vien indirectly
indicated that this formality was necessary to satisfy
higher-level decision makers and that as a practical matter,
there would be no impact operations or cooperation. The GVN
also suggested that the two sides prepare a joint report on the
outcome of HR, indicating that it might be desirable to share
this report with other parties.

7. (U) We outlined our plans for concluding work on HR, closing
down HRS, and factors impacting the handling of remaining cases.
A key point is that adjudicated cases formally become the
responsibility of USCIS. Also, we cannot predict when the last
HR applicants will travel to the U.S. The most common reason
for delay at this point is the wait for GVN verifications of
Re-education Camp Release Certificates. Medical-related issues
can delay the departure of approved applicants. More than 1,000
refused applicants have submitted Requests for Reconsideration
that have not yet been adjudicated. We also explained why the
process will take somewhat longer than predicted at the last JWG
meeting. The number of cases screened in was larger than
anticipated because the screen-in rate stopped falling.

8. (SBU) Although the GVN did not wish to discuss matters
outside HR, we also summarized HRS's role in other resettlement
processes such as Visas-93 and Amerasian. While these will be
transferred to OPE Bangkok, or -- for Amerasians -- to the
Consular Section, HRS is attempting to complete as many of these
cases as possible. HRS's responsibility for these other
processes is the primary reason why setting a definite date
certain for HRS closure is impossible;, Even if all HR
processing had completed by 25 June 2008, we would still need
to process these other cases. We reminded the GVN that HRS is
materially closer to closure; HRS's staff count has fallen from
a high of about 45 to 29 personnel and will drop to about 6 by
mid-2009 before closing entirely by the end of CY 2009. We
agreed to provide the GVN a diplomatic note with information
about our plans to complete HR processing and close down HRS.

Vietnamese View on Humanitarian Resettlement
--------------------------------------------
9. (SBU) Early in the meeting Vien praised the joint workshop
held by members of the JWG along with provincial passport
offices from the Central Highlands and Danang on 30 June. He
noted that it had helped both sides understand each other's
procedures. The provincial passport officers reportedly found
the presentations on U.S. resettlement processing and
eligibility very useful. The GVN officials also appreciated
learning more about USG resettlement processing and policies
globally. Vien said this had been the first time the overall
U.S. program was explained to them and it was eye-opening to see
that Vietnam was a rather small part of a much larger whole.

10. (SBU) On HR itself, Vien stated that there were three
remarkable positive characteristics. First, the PIO was
unprecedented in scope and length. Previous rounds of
resettlement had not been publicized through the media to
anything like the extent of HR. The media effort was multiplied
by overseas sources. Therefore, Vien opined that everyone
interested should have been able to learn about HR. The second
point was the large number of persons interested in HR. Based
on the over 100,000 application forms distributed and a family
size of 10, applications reached about one million people.
Using the same family size and the over 60,000 applications
received, over 600,000 persons expressed interest in
resettlement. (Note: We do not know why Vien used 10 as a

HO CHI MIN 00001093 003.2 OF 003


family size multiplier; this seems too high. End note.) Third,
the cooperation between the two sides was friendly, effective,
and mutually respectful; it could be considered a model for
cooperation in other areas.

11. (SBU) On the other hand, the GVN offered some critiques of
HR. Using the numbers cited in Para 10, only about 1.6 percent
of applicants were found qualified, a number that was too small,
Vien said. While acknowledging that U.S. immigration policy had
to be followed and agreeing with the USG point that the passage
of time made it difficult for many applicants to demonstrate
that they were qualified, Vien said that the U.S. should ensure
family re-unification, remarking on the importance of family and
family unity to the Vietnamese people. The GVN regretted that
the cooperation between the two governments had not been
reflected in the U.S. media or by U.S. citizens. For instance,
House Resolution 3096, the "Vietnam Human Right Act," claimed
that the GVN did not approve passport issuance for Vietnamese
citizens and that the GVN did not give its citizens permission
to leave the country. Vien said this was increasingly erroneous
as the passport application processing time had dropped from
between three to six months to a current time of seven to ten
days.

USG Evaluation
--------------
12. (SBU) We stated that the purpose of HR was to provide to
those eligible for, but who ad not been able to take advantage
of the ODP process, a final opportunity to apply and for
consideration for resettlement to the United States. The hope
has been that after HR, there would be no further need for
ODP-like resettlement programs from Vietnam because virtually
everyone who could go and wanted to resettle would have done so.
There are several signs that HR has been successful: 1) the
large number of applications received from all parts of Vietnam;
2) the lack of claims that local authorities had interfered with
the application process -- a common complaint under the ODP; 3)
the openness of GVN cooperation on the PIO and other matters
related to implementing HR. The large number of applicants, the
small percentage who were screened in, and the even smaller
portion qualified for resettlement also collectively
demonstrates that HR has met its goal. In conclusion, we noted
that the two sides' goals in HR were compatible and that made it
possible to work through the procedural and other differences
created by our two different systems.

Comment
-------
13. (SBU) The GVN notion that HR should have ended completely
on 25 June 2008 is not new -- they have bandied it about many
times and we have consistently answered that the date signified
the end of the application period -- just as we have applied
cutoff dates to previous resettlement processes. It seems that
the GVN members of the JWG are perfectly comfortable with our
definition of the cutoff date; they raise the issue to satisfy
their superiors and to remind us that the GVN's patience is not
endless. We bypassed the usually contentious fraud
prevention/List A issue by holding a separate, working level
meeting the week before. At the working level, practical
concerns related to questionable documents and other types fraud
were easier to explain. By paying attention to each other's
concerns in the HR process and building professional
relationships, we seem to have made some concrete gains in the
bi-lateral relationship.

14. (SBU) Ultimately, both sides have been interested in
concluding resettlement stemming from the aftermath of the war
that ended in 1975, and these compatible interests have helped
us work through differences of opinion and procedure. The
JWG-level consensus between the two governments is that HR has
successfully shown that there is no further need for
resettlement based on ODP categories because there are very few
people left who might qualify. That said, HR showed both
governments that tens, if not hundreds of thousands connected in
some way with the pre-1975 Republic of Vietnam still want to
leave Vietnam for the U.S. End comment.
DICKEY

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