An 88-year-old Hmong man from Laos who requested political asylum in 2007 has filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security seeking to have DHS return his passport so he can go home. According to KMPH News in Fresno, California, Mr. Xiong–who has not revealed his full name in order to protect his identity–is a veteran who fought alongside U.S. forces during the Vietnam War:
Xiong’s attorney describes his client as a war hero. He says the Hmong veteran can’t return to his native country without his passport. It was confiscated when he filed for political asylum in the U.S. and until the process is complete he won’t be able to go home. “He’s an old man,” Attorney Ken Seeger said. “He’s been in poor health over the past year or so.”
The veteran filed for political asylum in 2007. “But, he’s changed his mind and he’s willing to take a risk back in Laos just because he’s really old and in bad health and thinks the end is near and he wants to die in his homeland,” Seeger said.
DHS has refused to return the passport, so Mr. Xiong filed suit to get it back. DHS routinely keeps travel documents (and other original documents) that belong to asylum seekers. Even after a case is completed, it is often difficult or impossible to retrieve documents. In Mr. Xiong’s case, it would seem that DHS has every incentive to return the passport. Let’s hope that they do.