Thursday, 5 April 2012

Tài Liệu Về Boat People Của USCIS & UNHCR

Again, according to UNHCR, the end of the CPA was indeed "The end of an era”.
By 1999, some 1,75 million Vietnamese had left Vietnam and been resettled -- in the United States, in other Western countries, and in China. Of these, the U.S. took some 900000, Canada, Australia, and France resettled another 500000. Some 250000 Vietnamese were permanently resettled in China, and another 100000 left for other resettlement countries. (Xem phía dưới)
Cứ tính trung bình 4 người đi thoát có 1 người tử nạn, hơn 400000 đã chết ở Biển Đông và núi rừng quanh Việt Nam (Xem bài Một Cuộc Diệt Chủng Trong Sạch).

This Month in Immigration History
July 1979

July 1979
Immediate Consequences
Longer Term Consequences
1989 Comprehensive Plan of Action
Post Script
The war in Vietnam ended on April 30, 1975. Over 130000 Vietnamese left the country amid the final moments of that war. Of these, some 65000 Vietnamese military and government officials and Vietnamese employees of the United States and their families were considered "at risk" and were evacuated directly by the U.S. military ; another 65000 got out on their own in military aircraft, ships and boats. Most were taken first to Guam and then resettled in the United States. (You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to access this link.)  The last two Americans to die in that war were lost late on April 29 when their CH-46 evacuation helicopter crashed at sea near the USS Hancock, one of the navy ships receiving refugees. They were en route back to the mainland to collect more refugees.

Some in the United States reportedly thought that this initial wave would be all the Vietnamese war-related refugees needing sanctuary in the United States. In fact, this evacuation, rather than an end, was merely the beginning of what would become, during its 25-year history, one of the longest-running migration and refugee resettlement programs in the modern era. In the end, some 3 million people left their homes in the former French Indochinese colonies of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, including 1.75 million Vietnamese land refugees and boat people. They found resettlement, mostly in Western countries and Australia. Of these, the United States East Asian Refugee Admissions Program resettled over 1.4 million Indochinese refugees, including some 900,000 from Vietnam. Countless thousands more lost their lives leaving Vietnam in rickety boats -- only to be preyed upon by pirates, battered by rough seas, and, at times, devastated by an inability to land in friendly territory.
Responding to this migration and its evolution over time ultimately required two international conferences, permutations of traditional refugee definitions, extraordinary new protection measures, massive assistance programs, and large-scale resettlement efforts.

The first of these international conferences was the July 20-21, 1979, (International) Meeting on Refugees and Displaced Persons in Southeast Asia. One of the main movers behind the conference was reported to be British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher : she was anxious to relieve the pressure and expense of caring for Vietnamese boat people on Great Britain's then colony, Hong Kong. The July conference was the first attempt to address this migration in a systematic and comprehensive manner. This is a brief summary of the events leading to that conference, the agreements reached at it, and the consequences
that resulted from it.

In April 1975, as the South Vietnamese government collapsed and the end of the fighting in Vietnam appeared near, the United States Congress asked the Ford Administration for estimates of the number of Vietnamese at risk and in probable need of evacuation. Philip C. Habib, then Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, estimated the "at risk" population in Indochina at some 200,000. On April 18, President Ford established a Special Interagency Task Force for Indochina Refugees, and put Julia Vadala Taft in charge. The Task Force was "charged with the coordination of 18 federal agencies responsible for evacuating the refugees, providing them with temporary care and securing their resettlement either in the United States or in other countries”. (W. Courtland Robinson, Terms of Refuge : The Indochinese Exodus and the International Response, Zed Books, 1998, at 18.)
On April 22, the day after the resignation and departure from Vietnam (first to Taiwan, then France, and eventually to the United States) of President Nguyen Van Thieu, the U.S. Senate approved parole for 150000 Indochinese, including 50000 "high risk" Vietnamese. [Parole was necessary to permit the entry of refugees into the United States. Before 1980, the United States did not have a formal refugee program or an easy way to bring refugees into the country. Instead, refugees came in under a variety of immigration provisions, including those of conditional entrant, and, later on, parole.] In late April, U.S. naval ships were positioned off the coast of Vietnam to handle this evacuation, and arrangements were made on Guam to receive up to 50000 refugees. Starting immediately, the U.S. military evacuated over 7500 Vietnamese per day. On April 29, after the closure of Tan Son Nhat airport in Saigon, Operation "Frequent Wind" evacuated over 7000 more Vietnamese by helicopter. Four military bases in the United States were prepared to house the refugees during the search for sponsors for their resettlement in the U.S.
In all, 130000 Vietnamese left in the days immediately after the fall of Saigon : the 65000 brought out by boat and airplane and helicopter by the American military in the area, and the 65000 that made it out on their own in boats and airplanes commandeered for the occasion and landed at a U.S. facility or purposely crashed near a U.S. military vessel and then rescued.
With this large population on Guam and destined for resettlement, the United States brought in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),  the international agency directly responsible for legal protection of refugees and assistance to governments in finding lasting solutions to the needs of refugees, including resettlement. At the time, it was reportedly the hope of the United States to internationalize resettlement options for some of the refugee flow especially to other countries such as Canada, Australia, France, and other Western European countries. In May 1975, reportedly at the urging of the U.S. Government, UNHCR launched what would become over the years a series of worldwide appeals for resettlement places for displaced Indochinese outside their homelands. In response to this call, some 25 countries offered resettlement places, and eventually, some 11000-12000 Vietnamese were resettled under this first program.

In the years immediately after 1975, only a small trickle of Vietnamese left on boats. They went to destinations throughout the area :  to Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. But by 1977, the trickle was becoming a torrent. The exodus of those getting out of Vietnam had less to do with the legacy of war than with the new policies pursued by Vietnam's unified revolutionary government. Tough times had come to Vietnam. Compounded by the breakout of fighting between Vietnam and its Khmer Rouge neighbor in Cambodia, more and more Vietnamese began seeking refuge outside Vietnam.

By the end of 1977, more than 15600 Vietnamese had landed on the shores of Southeast Asian countries and Hong Kong. Even at these relatively small numbers, their arrival was alarming and unwelcome. Governments in the area did not want to consider letting these refugees stay in their countries. Most governments there felt that the continuing departure of refugees from Indochina was a residual American problem resulting from the Vietnam War. They didn't even want to call them "refugees”. In fact, throughout this entire time, all of the first asylum countries in the area referred to these people mostly as "displaced persons”.

Most of the countries in the area had somewhat stable but historically delicate "balanced" multi-ethnic societies. They feared that the arrival and permanent resettlement of Vietnamese, especially ethnically Chinese Vietnamese, could upset that balance in their countries.

At the same time, the first of those who had been detained in re-education camps because of their association with the United States, and other people of high priority to the United States, were not getting out of Vietnam to benefit from international refugee protection or resettlement.

In March 1978, Vietnam nationalized the rice and other private consumer markets, and the number of people leaving Vietnam started increasing, a majority of them being ethnic Chinese businessmen and traders. This exodus was abetted by Vietnamese authorities pushing out some of the 1.5 million ethnic Chinese in both North and South Vietnam after blaming them for some of the country's economic problems. Many of them were subjected to "official harassment, property confiscation, and forced relocation to New Economic Zones”. (Robinson, at 29.)
Some fled northern Vietnam into China ; by the time the government closed the border with China in July 1978, some 160000 ethnic Chinese had fled or been expelled into the Guangxi and Yunnan provinces in China (see map).  This number grew by some 8000 more each month until, by the end of 1978, 200,000 ethnic Chinese had fled into China. [In all, 240000 mostly ethnic Chinese Vietnamese would flee to and be resettled in China.]

Other Vietnamese, again mostly ethnic Chinese, began leaving other parts of Vietnam as boat people : paying customers of increasingly lucrative smuggling operations, often undertaken with the concurrence, and often the participation, of local Vietnamese government officials. Boats used for departure got larger and larger including some so-called "iron boats" bearing hundreds and even a thousand passengers. Some fled north along the coast to Hong Kong and landed there, while others went on across the South China Sea to the Philippines. Most went south toward Thailand and, when that became too dangerous because of pirates and thieves, they diverted first to Malaysia, and then on to Indonesia.

In late 1978, Malaysia started preventing boat people from landing on its shores, or, if they landed, they were towed back out to sea. In November 1978, UNHCR was able to have its local Representative interview some passengers on one of the ships not allowed to land in Malaysia. He cabled his analysis and recommendations to UNHCR's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. In a November 14, 1978, reply to the field, UNHCR stated that "in the future, boat cases from Vietnam [should] be considered prima facie of concern to UNHCR ...”. With this cable and its underlying policy, UNHCR was establishing what would become a decade-long policy of considering any and all Vietnamese boat people "of concern to UNHCR," meaning that they had de facto refugee status, the legal protection of UNHCR, and an opportunity to seek a durable solution through voluntary repatriation, local settlement in a country of first asylum, or resettlement to a third country such as the United States. (Robinson, at 28-29.)
Overwhelmingly during this time, resettlement, through a process involving countries of first or temporary asylum, countries of resettlement, and UNHCR, was the only really viable durable solution. Each resettlement country set its own priorities for identifying and selecting who got resettled ; the U.S. was pre-eminent among them. Refugee processing priorities of the United States were developed that were detailed and focused on specific populations.

As the number of people leaving Vietnam continued to escalate, neither local governments in the area around Vietnam nor the international community could keep up with the flow. In some cases, the Vietnamese boat people went until they found land, then beached their boats and burned them so they would be stranded. In one early instance, a relatively uninhabited island of Pulau Bidong off the eastern coast of Malaysia became home to hundreds of boat people -- like Nguyen Si -- who just landed there on their own and set about making a camp. By the time government authorities discovered them and promised the help of the international community, the several hundred Vietnamese had swelled to several thousand. By the time the UNHCR got relief supplies to it, the population had swelled to several tens of thousand. All were unwelcome by Malaysian authorities.

In response to this onslaught, Malaysia continued to push some boats back to sea. Some of these went back up to Thailand or on to Indonesia, although Thailand, too, started towing boats back out to sea before cutting them loose. More than a few boatloads of Vietnamese simply disappeared -- and may have sunk. Other boats continued leaving Vietnam by going north toward Hong Kong and when that, too, got unfriendly, they went over to the Philippines.

On the high seas, boat people were easy prey for pirates who would attack, rob, rape, kidnap, and kill. Sometimes, these boat people would seek rescue from passing ships on the high seas. However, by the end of 1978, potential rescue ships, spotting boat people on the high seas, increasingly did not stop to rescue them.
From 1975 to 1978, UNHCR statistics show that ships from 31 countries had rescued some 8674 people from 186 boats. But, in the months leading to the July Conference, as boat arrivals in the region were swelling to over 177000, only 47 boats were rescued with 4593 people onboard. Almost half of these rescues were by ships with registrations in Norway, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
The reasons for the downturn were the serious and negative consequences of this humanitarian act : ship's captains and boat owners were often subjected to extensive delays at a cost of thousands of dollars per day in a nearby harbor, while local governments' conditions of disembarkation usually required the country of the ship's registry to pledge in writing and through official diplomatic channels resettlement for all rescued Vietnamese. Some Vietnamese boats were fortunate enough to be rescued by ships such as the USS Whipple.  Whipple Crewman Mark Roberts tells the tale of rescues in August 1978, and one of the rescued Vietnamese remembers.
In December 1978, Vietnam invaded Cambodia, and a month later China invaded Vietnam, prompting new refugee movements.
By the end of 1978, almost 62000 boat people were in camps in nine countries in Southeast and East Asia, with over 46000 in Malaysia, 4800 in Hong Kong, and 3600 in Thailand (Robinson, at 32). In addition, Thailand hosted, albeit reluctantly, over 140000 people displaced from Cambodia and Laos. In all, some 61000 Vietnamese had landed in Malaysia in 1978 (40000 of whom came in the last three months of the year), while 2800 arrived in Indonesia. At the same time, Malaysia pushed back almost 5000 Vietnamese. In 1978, the Malaysian Navy prevented some 51400 Vietnamese in 386 boats from landing in Malaysia. (Robinson, at 42-43.) Also in 1978, and not coincidentally, almost 49000 Vietnamese boat people would arrive instead in Indonesia. The flow was not deterred by these unilateral actions, only deflected. And many still died.
By early 1979, the entire area was in turmoil, out of anyone's control, and outside any previous refugee framework. In response to UNHCR appeals, money and resettlement places were pledged and quickly became insufficient, necessitating another round of international appeals, multilateral discussions, and bilateral pledges which in turn quickly became insufficient. There was need for order but none could be found piecemeal. Increasingly, the various actors in the drama came to the conclusion that only through a comprehensive multilateral package of initiatives and programs could that order be achieved.

By mid-1979, over 700000 Vietnamese had left their homeland. While some 500000 had already been resettled, another 200000 remained in camps in the area all waiting to be resettled : 75000 in Malaysia, 49000 in Hong Kong, 43000 in Indonesia, 9500 in Thailand, and 5000 in the Philippines.
In a June 1979 meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a joint communiqué warned that the countries involved had "reached the limit of their endurance (for refugees) and have decided not [to] accept new arrivals”.
At the same time, the United Nations met to craft the outline and content of a possible new multilateral program for Indochinese refugees and displaced persons. They identified three main goals of such a program : 1) to stop state-supported expulsions and smuggling out of Vietnam, 2) to reaffirm some portion of first asylum in the area by getting local governments not to turn refugee boats away, and 3) to increase the number of resettlement places available in the West in order to keep up with existing flow and then reduce the backlog of current cases.
On June 30, 1979, UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim issued a formal invitation to 71 nations to attend a groundbreaking international conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on July 20-21.

July 1979
The meeting in Geneva produced the desired results. At the conference, participants addressed the range of issues involved in the refugee problem and adopted four main measures.

To reduce the concern of ASEAN and East Asian countries over the backlog of Indochinese displaced persons on their soil, some 20 countries at the Conference pledged new or greatly increased resettlement offers.
To obviate the need to flee in order to get into the resettlement queue, several countries at the Conference pledged to use an Orderly Departure Program (ODP) to identify and then select Vietnamese for resettlement according to their own refugee and immigration priorities. [In January 1979, Vietnam had announced its openness to such an arrangement ; the official framework for an ODP was established through a May 30, 1979, Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Vietnam and UNHCR. This MOU covered steps for the identification, and orderly and safe departure from Vietnam, of family reunion and other humanitarian cases.]
To facilitate the smooth transition from first asylum camps to resettlement countries, especially to the United States, fledgling refugee processing centers would be expanded and used more. At these processing centers, which would relieve the pressure on first asylum camps, resettlement-bound Indochinese could be medically screened and given treatment if needed, learn English, and start an acculturation process toward life in their intended country of resettlement.

Vietnam promised to effect some sort of action to prevent continuing illegal departures. [This action would prove controversial within UNHCR and with refugee advocates around the world. In letter and in spirit, it seemed to violate Article 13.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own”.]
In addition, shortly thereafter, new infusions of large sums of money were made available to fund these measures. While the United States remained the main resettlement country, others joined. Japan became and then remained the main donor country for this program, contributing over 50% of the funding needed.

Fast Forward
Immediate Consequences
As a result of the conference, progress was made almost immediately on all of its four main topics.

Worldwide resettlement pledges rose from 125000 per year to over 260000 per year in 1979 and 1980. Of these, the U.S. resettlement quota doubled from 7000 per month to 14000 per month or some 168000 annually.
Under the auspices of the ODP, potential resettlement countries prepared lists of Vietnamese they would be willing to accept if Vietnam would let them out. Vietnam prepared lists of people it wanted to see leave Vietnam (a mixed bag of people from political dissidents, to people who had bribed local government officials, to other rather unsavory types with little claim to needing resettlement). At first, only rarely did the same name appear on both lists, a prerequisite to departure under the ODP.
[In contrast to the paperwork and time needed to obtain permission and then travel under the ODP, almost every Vietnamese who escaped Vietnam by boat and got into a first asylum camp was still presumptively "of concern to UNHCR" and therefore potentially eligible for resettlement in one country or another. The difficulty arose only in finding a country willing to take them.]
Two Refugee Processing Centers were built or expanded in the area : one on Galang Island, Indonesia, and the other at Morong, in Bataan Province in the Philippines. By the time it closed in 1987, the Galang center had processed more than 55000 resettlement-bound refugees. Over 340000 mostly-U.S.-bound Indochinese passed through Bataan before it closed in 1994.
Following Vietnam's crackdown on illegal departures that began in July 1979, Vietnamese boat people arriving in the region dropped from the high in June 1979 of 54941, to 17839 in July, to 9734 in August.
In addition, other programs were developed to meet specific challenges. In August 1979, UNHCR convened another multilateral meeting that developed the "DISERO" program (DISERO being derived from "Disembarkation Resettlement Offers"). Under this program, a number of resettlement countries pledged to accept any Vietnamese refugee rescued at sea by a ship of a country that did not resettle refugees. [Ships with registries in resettlement countries had to continue pledging resettlement for all refugees that they rescued.] Therefore, ships with registries in non-resettlement countries could rescue boat people, take them to the nearest port, off-load them, and get quickly back to sea. UNHCR had to manage the discussions among resettlement countries and with the government of the port of disembarkation to ensure that all rescued Vietnamese got resettled within the time frame of its DISERO agreement with that government. [Beginning, in 1985, through a companion program called RASRO : Rescue at Sea Resettlement Offers, 16 countries including the eight main resettlement countries for Indochinese refugees and eight others, pledged to resettle a certain number of the refugees rescued at sea.]
Also, in what was seen as a consequence of the July 1979 conference, Malaysian push-backs virtually stopped. Boats were allowed to proceed and then to land in the area. But, as push-backs receded as a threat to boat people, increased activity among pirates, especially in the Gulf of Thailand, demanded the attention of the international community. For instance, according to UNHCR statistics, by 1981, 349 out of 452 Vietnamese boats arriving in Thailand had been attacked an average of 3.2 times during their flight from Vietnam. Of the number of passengers leaving in those boats from Vietnam, some 881 were listed as dead or missing, 578 women had been raped, and 228 women and girls had been abducted. It was August 1981 before the international community began addressing this problem with a series of anti-piracy measures and programs. Most of these met with rather limited success.
There were also changes adopted by the United States. Because of the continuing problem of Vietnamese boat people and other Indochinese in need of resettlement, the U.S. Congress finally passed long-proposed refugee legislation. The main thrust of the Refugee Act of 1980 was to regularize and systematize the annual resettlement of refugees into the United States and reduce the reliance on Presidential discretion through parole to take in (or not take in) refugees.
In the chaotic refugee migrations since the end of World War II, each was basically dealt with as it came along. Congress wanted a better way to manage the selection and resettlement of large numbers of refugees. The detailed procedures established by the Refugee Act of 1980 provided this structure and order and were incorporated into the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as section 207.
In addition to its resettlement provisions, the Refugee Act of 1980 established for the first time a statutory definition of "refugee" (becoming section 101(a)(42)(A) of the INA).  This definition was based on the international definition of "refugee" established by the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. In order to permit the United States to resettle as refugees some or all of those permitted to leave Vietnam under the Orderly Departure Program, the Refugee Act of 1980 added something new to international as well as national law. The definition of "refugee" was extended to allow the United States to grant refugee status to certain designated people who were still inside their country of origin. This became section 101(a)(42)(B) of the INA.
In the short term, the July 1979 International Conference was a success and put order into the previously chaotic situation. Refugee resettlement became mainstream activity for the international community as well as for many national governments, including the United States.

Longer Term Consequences
As the years went by, Vietnamese and other Indochinese were still leaving their homelands to take advantage of near certain resettlement as refugees if they arrived in a country of first asylum in the region. Others signed up for and got in line for resettlement or immigration processing through ODP. There was order, but no discernable end to this program. And not all of those leaving or wanting to leave had valid claims of past -- or fear of future -- persecution as required by the refugee definition.
In time, resettlement countries started developing what became known as "compassion fatigue" : running out of funds and enthusiasm for a program that seemed orderly but likely never to end. By the late 1980s, most resettlement countries had resettled those who were their top priority. The U.S. finally got access to and started resettling most of the Vietnamese who had been imprisoned longest because of their association with the U.S. Government during the Vietnam War. [Eventually, some 4600 former U.S. Government employees were resettled to the United States through ODP. Another 165000 former reeducation camp detainees and their immediate family members were admitted to the United States under a special bilateral program.] Amerasian children in Vietnam were identified and their resettlement to the United States started. [More than 80000 Amerasian children and accompanying family members were admitted to the U.S. through another special program established after Congress passed the Amerasian Homecoming Act of 1987.] And after the Vietnamese and other refugees of the 1970's obtained their U.S. citizenship and petitioned for the immigration of their eligible family members, many of the people leaving Vietnam in the late 1980s were holders of approved immigrant petitions to the United States, waiting for their immigrant visa to become available. However, for a variety of reasons, instead of waiting in the queue, many were leaving Vietnam on boats, believing that resettlement processing to the United States was faster than immigrant processing.

Throughout Southeast Asia, there was an increasing number of people in first asylum camps who had been interviewed, reinterviewed, and re-reinterviewed, only to find that they did not fit into any country's resettlement criteria and priorities. They were languishing in these camps with little hope for resettlement and no desire to return home. Under the auspices of UNHCR, the international community was providing funding each year for their continuing care and well-being. Meanwhile, their reluctant hosts in countries of temporary asylum once again started growing impatient. According to Court Robinson, "The old [post 1979] formula of an open door for an open shore had fallen victim to its own success. The asylum countries [in Southeast and East Asia] were no longer willing to maintain open-ended asylum, just as the resettlement countries [of the West and Australia] were unwilling to maintain open-ended resettlement. Each seemed to be perpetuating the need for the other”. (Robinson, at 188.)
Once again, as in 1978-79, the situation in the area grew tense as the number of boat people arriving in the area started rising dramatically and the governments in the area began reacting negatively. Hong Kong was the first to impose a cut-off for presumptive resettlement eligibility for new arrivals. After June 16, 1988, all boat people arriving in Hong Kong were subjected to eligibility screening. Still, almost 34000 Vietnamese arrived in Hong Kong in 1989, most hoping to get in before the doors to near automatic resettlement closed for good. These new departees were mostly North Vietnamese, ethnic Vietnamese (not the ethnic Chinese Vietnamese from a decade earlier). Their departure coincided with eased travel restrictions at a time of increasing unemployment in North Vietnam. As numbers also rose in other countries of first asylum, Malaysia resumed the "push-backs" that it had stopped ten years earlier and imposed its own cut-off for the end of presumptive resettlement eligibility : March 14, 1989.

1989 Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA)
This situation, especially the desire on the part of the international community to end the push-backs and drownings of boat people that were occurring almost daily in the Gulf of Thailand, prompted a second UN-sponsored forum, the International Conference on Indochinese Refugees, held on June 13-14, 1989. At this conference, some 70 countries adopted a series of agreements that, collectively, became known as the Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA) for Indochinese Refugees. The purpose of the CPA was " to resolve the outflow of people, primarily from Vietnam, to other countries in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong”. Again, the focus was on a comprehensive set of interlocking mutually dependent agreements and actions. The CPA had five main objectives (Robinson, at 188) :
To maintain guarantees for temporary refuge for Vietnamese boat people.
To further discourage organized clandestine flight from Vietnam, and to promote regular departures and immigration processing.
To establish a screening process to assess refugee status. Under the Comprehensive Plan of Action, every "asylum-seeker" from Vietnam "would be screened individually for refugee status and given the right to appeal”.
To continue resettlement for "pre-cut-off" and "screened-in" asylum-seekers.
To return to their country of origin, preferably voluntarily, but not entirely ruling out involuntary return if voluntary return were to fail, those determined not to be refugees.

While the CPA dealt with Indochinese refugees in the area, its primary focus was on the then 100000 Vietnamese boat people in camps throughout Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, and those that might follow in the coming years. Under the CPA, established cut-off dates for each first asylum country in the area were confirmed. Before those dates, all Vietnamese asylum-seekers arriving by boat were, since 1978, presumptively "of concern to UNHCR" and therefore refugees eligible for resettlement to a third country under its auspices. After these cut-off dates, new arrivals would be screened individually for refugee status. Those found eligible on account of fear of persecution upon return were "screened-in" and eligible for resettlement. Those ineligible for refugee status were "screened-out" and told that they would not be resettled anywhere and that they should return to Vietnam.

Also as a result of the CPA, the "DISERO" program for resettlement of rescued boat people basically collapsed. Because of screening under the CPA, not all rescued refugees would be automatically eligible for resettlement. The countries of origin of rescuing ships could not guarantee resettlement, and first asylum countries -- with the notable exception of the Philippines -- did not want to permit the continued disembarkation of rescued refugees unless resettlement could be guaranteed. Because of the CPA, departures from Vietnam dropped dramatically. Therefore, fewer people were in need of rescue on the high seas, and fewer new arrivals would have to be screened.
As a result of the CPA, the number of boat people dropped dramatically. In 1989, some 70000 Vietnamese boat people had left Vietnam. In 1992, only 41 Vietnamese arrived in first asylum camps. At the same time, the number of people leaving Vietnam under the auspices of the ODP as refugees, special interest immigrants, and regular immigrants increased. Under the CPA, the disorderly resettlement process through flight on boats to first asylum countries was replaced by the more orderly migration of people through more direct channels from Vietnam to the countries of resettlement/immigration. In fact, from 1990-1995, a total of some 507500 Indochinese refugees and immigrants moved to new lives. In contrast, during the six years of 1984-1989 and operating under the policies and procedures adopted in July 1979, some 442000 Indochinese had moved to new lives. (Robinson, at 193.)
By the time the CPA officially ended on June 30, 1996, at a cost of over $500 million, Vietnamese in camps in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong were either approved for resettlement or given incentives to return voluntarily to Vietnam. The first returnees to Vietnam were a group of 75 who returned home from the camps in Hong Kong in March 1989. Under the terms of the June 1989 CPA, more would return to Vietnam from all camps, and, eventually, not all would return voluntarily. Various programs were established to ensure the resettlement of all those of concern to the international community and to individual countries such as the United States. In a program established to bring closure to the CPA, the United States, under the Resettlement Offers for Vietnamese Refugees (ROVR) program, offered to reinterview in Vietnam certain designated Vietnamese returnees. First, Vietnamese had to agree to return to Vietnam from first asylum camps. Then they would be interviewed. If found eligible, they would be resettled directly from Vietnam. This would be the final chapter in the long resettlement program.
Residual caseloads in all first asylum camps continued to be processed and, one by one, these camps were formally closed.
In Hong Kong, the CPA ended in May 1997.  Some Vietnamese who did not return voluntarily were eventually involuntarily returned. Reintegration assistance from the international community (usually through UNHCR) was given to Vietnamese upon their return to Vietnam, and in 1991 UNHCR had expanded its presence in the country to monitor and report on possible retaliation against returning asylum-seekers.
According to its own account, "The CPA has been a milestone in the history of UNHCR : a solution as vast and unprecedented as the refugee crisis that spawned it. [It is] one of the most elaborate and expensive refugee programs in history .. The CPA, unquestionably, worked. The flood [of asylum-seekers] was stemmed. A safe alternative system for departure was considerably reinforced. Unprecedented numbers of people were screened. Resettlement slots gave new lives abroad to almost every screened-in refugee. Voluntary repatriation has been unexpectedly effective”. (For a fuller account, see Final Act : Closing Down the CPA, UNHCR's Refugee magazine, 1995).
Again, according to UNHCR, the end of the CPA was indeed "The end of an era”.
By 1999, some 1,75 million Vietnamese had left Vietnam and been resettled -- in the United States, in other Western countries, and in China. Of these, the U.S. took some 900 000, Canada, Australia, and France resettled another 500 000. Some 250 000 Vietnamese were permanently resettled in China, and another 100 000 left for other resettlement countries.
In FY 2000, the United States included East Asian refugees in its annual refugee resettlement ceilings. On September 30, 1999, President Clinton signed the Presidential Determination 99-45 for FY 2000. [A Presidential Determination is the final act of the annual consultation process with Congress, the Administration, and non-governmental organizations mandated by the Refugee Act of 1980. These PD's establish the annual refugee resettlement ceilings and processing priorities for the coming fiscal year (October 1 through September 30).] For FY 2000, the resettlement ceiling for people from East Asia is set at 8000. Most of these resettlement places will be used to resettle the final group of refugees from the Vietnam era. [The Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. Department of State administer the overseas portions of the U.S. refugee resettlement program. The Department of Health and Human Services administers some of the domestic aspects of this program. The role of the INS is to make the final determination of refugee eligibility and admissibility to the U.S.]
As in so many countries of resettlement during the 25 years since the end of the Vietnam War, Indochinese refugees have arrived in and enriched countless thousands of communities throughout the United States.

Post Script
On December 10, 1981, for its work in assisting and protecting refugees and displaced persons in areas such as Southeast Asia, the Indian sub-continent, and the Horn of Africa, the Office of the UNHCR joined for the second time a long list of notable individuals and organizations awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. [The Nobel Peace Prize was established by Alfred Nobel. The selection of winners was entrusted to a special committee in Norway.]

On November 10, 1997, Julia Vadala Taft, the experienced refugee veteran from the Task Force in 1975, took office as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration.


News Article

April 30, 2004
Ordeal for Boat People May End
U.S. agrees to consider resettlement for most of 1855 Vietnamese stranded in Philippines.
By Mai Tran and Mary Curtius
Times Staff Writers
On the eve of the 29th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, the U.S. State Department detailed an agreement it reached this month with the Philippines to speed up resettlement of the last Vietnamese boat people.
The refugees' advocates, many from Orange County, flew to Washington for an informal question-and-answer session Thursday with government officials about the status of 1855 members of about 700 families who fled Vietnam and have been stranded in the Philippines with no legal status since 1989.
Under the agreement, the United States will offer resettlement interviews to a majority of the boat people, many of whom have relatives in the United States, a State Department official said.
It would mark a final step in the long effort to let many of the refugees immigrate to the United States. Though the displaced families long ago put down roots in the Philippines, they are essentially stateless and cannot own a business or a house or even hold certain jobs.

"This plan is based on the desire of both governments to find a comprehensive humanitarian solution for those in this group," the governments said in a joint announcement.

More than 1.5 million boat people escaped Vietnam after the war ended in 1975 ? some rescued by the U.S. military and others who fled by boat. Those who remain in the Philippines were rejected as political refugees by the Philippines immigration system. Because of that, U.S. officials were unable to consider them for resettlement under an international agreement that had been drawn up to deal with the Vietnamese refugee crisis.

In 1996, they were ordered returned to Vietnam, a move that would have permitted the United States to consider them for resettlement. When Philippine officials tried to force them to fly back to Vietnam, they rioted at the airport, saying they would be persecuted if they returned to their homeland. Roman Catholic Church officials stepped in and successfully pressured the government to let the Vietnamese refugees remain indefinitely but with no legal status and no place to go.
State Department officials said Thursday they would send teams to Manila within months to interview the refugees and promised to apply a "generous refugee-screening standard" in an effort to offer resettlement to as many as possible.
About 1,400 people are expected to qualify for resettlement in the United States, a process that is expected to be completed by September, an official said. Those who do not qualify will remain in the Philippines and may eventually be offered legal status there.
The news was heartening to the Vietnamese American community. "With all the security concerns, it came at a time when it was unexpected," said Lan Quoc Nguyen, a Westminster attorney, activist and president of Legal Assistance for Vietnamese Asylum Seekers, a national organization that provides legal counseling for boat people. "This is important because it is the closing chapter of the 30-year tragedy for boat people”.
Hoi Trinh, 34, a Vietnamese attorney who has lobbied for the boat people, said it was bittersweet because refugees who married Philippine citizens or who are Amerasians will not be interviewed.
"We urge the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to, please, at least hear their stories," Trinh said. "There's a need to hear, at least once, from all the refugees”.

Senators Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said in a written statement that they welcomed the agreement between the United States and the Philippines. "After almost 30 years, the last of the refugees of the Vietnam War have a chance to build a stable future," Brownback said. "This is an important moment for them, and an important symbol of the U.S. commitment to refugee protection and resettlement”.
Mary Curtius reported from Washington, D.C., Mai Tran from Orange County.

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Philippines Agrees Not To Forcibly Repatriate Vietnamese
Feb. 15, 1996
MANILA, The Philippines (CWN) - The government of the Philippines pledged on Thursday that Vietnamese refugees who do not want to return to Vietnam will not be forcibly repatriated.
The statement comes one day after 84 refugees were returned via airplane to Vietnam, including a man that had to dragged up the steps of the aircraft by soldiers. Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon said the man had been put on the plane because of a mix-up and would be brought back to the Philippines.
Troops fired warning shots and used a water cannon as hundreds of Vietnamese at a boat people's camp on southern Palawan island tried to stop the plane taking off. There had been 2700 Vietnamese in the Palawan camp but the number had dropped to 2150 after many escaped.

Siazon said President Fidel Ramos' decision to allow the stay of Vietnamese refusing to go home was reached during a meeting with Filipino Catholic bishops who promised to look after the migrants' welfare with the help of non-governmental groups.
Siazon said the immediate task was to set a time frame to transfer to the Church responsibility for the Palawan camp and establish procedures that would allow migrants opposed to going back to Vietnam to stay in the Philippines. "The problem is who takes care of food, lodging, et cetera ? My understanding is the Catholic bishops association and the NGO's will do that," Siazon said.
"We have indicated to them...for reasons of equity (that we) have to take care of our Filipinos first but they, and I think correctly so, have argued that human beings are human beings irrespective of nationalities and if they have needs then we must assist them," Siazon said.

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Clip : Refuge for the unwanted
Broadcast Date : Sept. 11, 1979
Medium : Television
Duration : 19 :12
View the Clip : Home > Life and Society > Boat People : A Refugee Crisis > Refuge for the unwanted
The Story
The lucky ones who survive the arduous journey over sea or land then begin an indeterminate stay at a refugee camp. On average, a refugee family spends 12 months in a camp, but some remain for years. In July 1979 there are over 350000 refugees in crowded camps in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines. During this month, a CBC Television crew visits camps in Hong Kong and Malaysia to see what life is like there.
Hong Kong is considered to have the best refugee camps ; Thailand, the worst. Somewhere in the middle of that continuum, Malaysia's main refugee camp, the island of Pulau Bidong, opened in 1975. Sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), it was originally built to contain 12000 people. By November 1978, Pulau Bidong was housing more than twice that. And in early July 1979, there are 42000 refugees crushed between its shores.
Did You Know ?
On Aug. 6, 1979, Canada began an around-the-clock airlift to carry Canadian food and medical supplies to refugees in Malaysian camps.
A Boeing 707 left Canadian Forced Base Trenton every three days carrying eight tons of food and medical supplies to Hong Kong, from where it was transported to Malaysia.
The plane stayed on the ground for ninety minutes" just long enough to load up with Vietnamese refugees bound for Canada.
The Malaysian Red Crescent Society was responsible for the daily operations at the Pulau Bidong camp.
Pulau Bidong was off-limits to locals, but local fishermen managed to smuggle goods to the refugees at greatly inflated prices.
Some 250000 refugees filtered through the camp between 1975 and 1991.
A temple, a school, a church, a clinic, shops and a cemetery were eventually built.
Pulau Bidong officially closed in 1991. The last Vietnamese was sent home in 1996.
Camps in Thailand were considered the worst. They mainly housed refugees who had fled overland. Once in Thai camps, refugees were often robbed and raped by guards or other refugees.
The refugee camps in Thailand had the most trouble because they did not permit international agencies like the United Nations or the Red Cross to operate there.
Medium : Television
Program : CBC Television News Special
Episode : My People Are Dying
Broadcast Date : Sept. 11, 1979
Narrator : Harry Elton
Guest(s) : Sir Jack Carter, Ian Hamilton, unidentified
Duration : 19:12



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