Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
May 9, 2006
Refugee Admissions Program for East Asia
Since 1975, more than 1.3 million refugees from Asia have been resettled in the United States , either from first asylum countries or through in-country processing programs. The vast majority of these people have been Indochinese refugees. More than 900,000 have come from Vietnam , but we have also resettled significant numbers of Highland and Lowland Lao and Khmer.
While we will continue to resettle Indochinese refugees, we are focusing more of our attention on refugees from Burma . Hundreds of thousands of people have fled from Burma to neighboring countries since September 1988 when the Burmese military brutally suppressed pro-democracy demonstrations, abolished the constitution and established a ruling junta known as the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC). The ethnic minorities of Burma have been targeted for persecution by the SPDC, so many Karen and Karenni have fled to Thailand , while many Chin have left for Malaysia and India . Thailand , Malaysia and India all have agreed to allow third country resettlement for the refugees from Burma , so the USG is working closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Non-Governmental Organizations and regional governments to facilitate this process.
We also are deeply concerned about the plight of North Korean refugees. The North Korean Human Rights Act calls on the Administration to undertake to facilitate the submission of applications of North Koreans seeking protection as refugees. We are working closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and East Asian governments to develop a viable and sustainable mechanism for considering appropriate cases.
FY 2006 Admissions Program
The FY 2006 ceiling for refugee arrivals from East Asia is 15,000. We expected to admit more than 10,000 ethnic minority refugees from Burma living in Malaysia and Thailand . We had planned to process and admit a group of 9,300 ethnic Karen refugees living in the Tham Hin camp in Thailand and some 1,500 ethnic Chin from Malaysia . Unfortunately, processing of these groups has been delayed because of changes to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that expanded terrorism-related inadmissibilities. The Administration is pursuing several options to allow them to be considered for resettlement in the United States , but we do not now expect to meet our FY 2006 refugee admission goals for the year.
The USG also plans to admit the first Vietnamese through the new Humanitarian Resettlement (HR) Program in FY 2006. This is a limited process to receive new applications from Vietnamese citizens who might have been eligible for resettlement consideration under three categories of the former Orderly Departure Program. The process is limited to those who were unable to apply or to complete their applications before ODP registration closed in September 1994. Although many people have inquired about the program, it is too soon to know how many will be eligible. Registration and processing for the program will continue until June 2008.
Finally, we will admit approximately 1,500 Vietnamese refugees who have been residing in the Philippines since 1989 without any hope of local integration. The Department of Homeland Security's Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) interviewed and approved these cases during the summer of 2005, but most were not ready to travel until FY 2006.