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Cablegate: Humanitarian Resettlement - First Joint Working Group

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

070342Z Dec 05





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A) HCMC 74, (B) 04 HCMC 505, (C) HANOI 3029

1. (SBU) Summary: U.S. and Vietnamese officials of the Joint
Working Group (JWG) for Humanitarian Resettlement (HR), led by
ConGen HCMC DPO Kenneth Chern and Ministry of Public Security
(MPS) Deputy Director of Emigration and Immigration Phan Dong,
held their first session November 30 in HCMC. The Vietnamese
side raised two contentious issues: loosening eligibility
criteria for children of applicants, and USG defrayment of GVN
implementation costs for HR. The U.S. side agreed to a GVN
request to begin the Public Information Outreach (PIO) on
December 16, in order to give the GVN time to develop PIO
scheduling plans and materials. The GVN also requested that we
provide it with lists of HR applicants, including photos, to
prevent fraud and facilitate document verification. The two
sides agreed that language in two USG draft documents (an
application form and an information sheet) would be refined in
time to begin distribution on December 16. The meeting took
place in a collegial atmosphere and went longer than initially
planned due to a detailed discussion of HR implementation
issues. Both sides agreed to keep in touch pending a second
meeting by mutual agreement. End summary.

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2. (U) The first meeting of the JWG to implement the new HR
process took place in HCMC November 30. A USG group led by
ConGen HCMC DPO Chern, and including Refugee Coordinator David
Rockey and Embassy Hanoi Political Officer Nathaniel Jensen, met
with a GVN delegation led by MPS Deputy Director of Immigration
and Emigration Dong. Also present for the Vietnamese side were
MPS Vice Manager of Immigration Le Xuan Vien, Ministry of
Foreign Affairs Consular Department Deputy Director Thai Xuan
Dung, and four others.

3. (SBU) GVN members of the JWG presented four main points for
consideration in connection with implementation of the PIO and
of HR more generally:

- The GVN suggested that the USG loosen the eligibility
criteria, particularly the restriction on children to those
under 21 and unmarried, in the interest of family unity, and to
avoid difficulties in dealing with family members of applicants
for resettlement.

- The GVN asked that the USG specify in its information sheet
exactly what documents applicants should submit in support of
their applications for the HR's three categories of eligibility:
HO (former detainees), U-11 (former USG employees), and V-11
(former employees of private U.S. companies or organizations).

- The GVN said it wanted to discuss with the USG and reach
agreement on the exact breadth and length of the airing time for
PIO materials, including the best times for information to be
broadcast and put into publications, to meet the requirements
contained in the PIO agreement.

- Claiming that it faced significant costs for purchasing
broadcast media air time and print advertising space, bringing
officials from Hanoi to HCMC for meetings, and facilitating the
work of the JWG, the GVN requested that the USG underwrite all
these costs. Deputy Director Dong particularly stressed the
costs of purchasing airtime and advertising space. Alluding to
Vietnam's "free press," he noted that the GVN must sign
contracts for advertising purchases in the major media.

4. (SBU) The USG members discussed these issues at length with
the GVN members and made the following points in response to
these concerns:

- DPO noted that it was unlikely we would be able to change the
basic eligibility restriction to unmarried children under 21
years old as listed in the access criteria, since this had U.S.
legal implications. The restriction was based on the U.S.
Immigration and Nationality Act. Regarding the GVN's comment
that many under-21 and unmarried children had not participated
in ODP when they had had such an opportunity prior to the
previous application deadline in 1994, the U.S. side pointed out
that the McCain Amendment program had been implemented to
address that concern. We also noted that unless there were some
U.S. legal change to allow participation by over-21 and/or
married children of principal applicants (which could also have
implications for derivative families that extend even to
great-grandchildren of principal applicants), this restriction
could not be eliminated. We did agree to explore the issue
further with our legal authorities in Washington and to provide
a more definitive response.

- Regarding what documents should be submitted as part of the
applications, the U.S. side said it would develop a list of key
documents to support requests for consideration under HR, such
as re-education certificates (for HO), documents providing
evidence of USG employment (for U-11), and documents relating to
U.S. private organization employment (for V-11). We also noted
that given the variety of circumstances of individual cases,
such a list could not be comprehensive. We acknowledged that
many potential applicants may not have re-education or
employment documents available after 30 years, and endeavored to
work with the GVN and with USG offices in the United States to
make best efforts to verify such claims. We will include the
list of key documents with the information sheets and
application forms that we distribute to potential applicants.

- On the issue of planning the breadth and length of airing PIO
information, the U.S. side agreed to let the GVN take the lead
in developing specific schedules and materials for media and
print coverage, and consult with us about them through the JWG.
GVN members said that they would need an additional 15 days to
prepare adequately their first plans for PIO materials, and the
JWG agreed that the active dissemination of information for HR
would begin on December 16.

- The GVN proposal for funding the HR process was the most
contentious issue raised. The DPO noted that the U.S. also had
expenses such as application and information sheet printing
costs and bringing staff from Hanoi to HCMC for JWG meetings.
He said that the USG could not defray the costs that the GVN
would incur. Refugee Coordinator pointed out that we had
initially offered to do the PIO through the International
Organization for Migration (IOM) as our partner, whereby IOM
would have purchased airtime and print space at commercial
rates. However, during negotiations in December 2004, the GVN
had said it would prefer to manage the PIO itself, without IOM
involvement (Ref A). At that time, no mention had been made of
sharing costs for the PIO. The U.S. side suggested that most of
the PIO information should be disseminated through public
service announcements and press releases; large-volume purchases
of commercial advertising space should not be necessary. We
also noted that the GVN still receives per-capita payments from
the USG (paid through IOM) each year for all persons traveling
under the U.S. Refugee Program and that these per-capita
payments were intended to compensate the GVN for costs incurred
in cooperating with in-country resettlement programs. The GVN
members pressed, asking us to reconsider their request for
funding, and contending that this would be critical to the
success of HR. We undertook to convey their concern to the

5. (SBU) The U.S. side provided the GVN with two draft
documents that we wish to begin disseminating to people
requesting information on HR: a one-page application form that
requests basic information about the applicant and whether he or
she has previously applied for ODP; and a general eligibility
information sheet repeating most of the information contained in
the initial public announcement document: a basic description
of the HR eligibility criteria and warnings not to use agents or
"fixers" for assistance or to make life-changing arrangements
(selling property, resigning jobs, leaving school) until
officially notified of approval for resettlement. The GVN side
is reviewing these documents, mainly with a concern to eliminate
the term "refugee" throughout the documents (Ref B). With this
change (and the addition of the list of key supporting
documents), we expect to begin distributing the application
forms and information sheets to those making inquiries on
December 16, concurrent with the start of the PIO.

6. (SBU) The GVN also asked us to provide it with lists of
people submitting HR applications, including photos, in order to
discourage imposters and more generally prevent fraudulent
applications. Specifically, the GVN requested that we provide
lists, on a regular basis, of persons initially submitting
application forms; of persons deemed eligible for consideration
after an initial evaluation of their case; of persons deemed
ineligible for resettlement; and of persons whose cases are
pended for some reason. The U.S. side acknowledged that we have
a common interest in combating fraud and that we had provided
similar lists throughout the previous ODP process. (Comment:
We would need to provide much of this information to the GVN for
document verification and verifying related case facts in any
event. However, we request Department guidance on how best to
accommodate this request. End Comment.)

7. (SBU) The JWG meeting took place in an atmosphere of
cooperation in implementing operational details of the HR
process, although both sides recognized that there are issues to
be worked out. JWG members on both sides agreed to consult each
other regularly via e-mail and phone calls between meetings to
continue resolving operational details, pending the next JWG
meeting at a time of mutual agreement.

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