This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS MANILA 004669
STATE FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, PRM, DRL
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PREF VM RP IOM SUBJECT: PHILIPPINES: VIETNAMESE REFUGEES LEAVE LIMBO AT LAST
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 Summary.
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.