Cablegate: Philippines: Vietnamese Refugees Leave Limbo At

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified; please
handle accordingly.

2. (SBU) Summary. The final group of refugees who fled
Vietnam for the Philippines 15-30 years ago began resettling
in the U.S. this week. A projected 1600 refugees will
ultimately be resettled; the fate of 400 refugees who do not
qualify for resettlement remains uncertain. The resettlement
program has been received favorably in the Philippines. End

3. (U) On Monday, September 26, 2005, 229 Vietnamese refugees
who had left Manila for the United States landed at Los
Angeles International airport and began the process of
resettlement in the US. They were the first of approximately
1600 Vietnamese refugees remaining in the Philippines and now
being processed for possible resettlement in the U.S.

4. (U) The Vietnamese refugees were among those who fled
Vietnam to the Philippines between 1975, when the communist
government took control of the south, and 1989, when the
United Nations declared that people fleeing Vietnam were
doing so for economic rather than political reasons, and were
therefore not entitled to refugee status. The UN began
closing Vietnamese refugee camps in Asia in 1996, but an
attempt to close the Philippines' camp on the island of
Palawan was met with refusal and even rioting by the
refugees. After the intercession of the Catholic Church, the
GRP allowed the refugees to stay in the Philippines. The GRP
would not, however, grant citizenship or even legal residency
to the refugees, and they have been in a legal and diplomatic
limbo until now.

5. (U) Beginning in 2004, Post began working with the U.S.
Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, the Department's Bureau of
Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), the U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the
International Organization for Migration (IOM) to relocate
the refugees to the United States. 1370 refugees still in
the Philippines will ultimately be resettled. The fate of
another 400 refugees remains in question, however; these are
refugees who lost their eligibility for migration to the US
because they married Filipinos, but remain ineligible for
legal residency under Philippine law because they originally
entered the country illegally. The USG, GRP and IOM continue
to work to achieve an equitable solution in this issue.

6. (SBU) Comment. The resettlement program is a positive
example of USG, IOM, and GRP cooperation. In general, local
media reaction to the beginning of the resettlement has been
very positive and largely self-congratulatory. The
Philippine press has used the event as an opportunity to
trumpet the positive role the Philippines has played as host
to the refugees, while all but ignoring the GRP's refusal to
grant the refugees residency status. End Comment.


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