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[Congressional Record: May 2, 2000 (House)]
[Page H2359-H2362]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr02my00-98]                         



 
               HMONG VETERANS' NATURALIZATION ACT OF 2000

  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill 
(H.R. 371) to expedite the naturalization of aliens who served with 
special guerilla units in Laos, as amended.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                                H.R. 371

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Hmong Veterans' 
     Naturalization Act of 2000''.

     SEC. 2. EXEMPTION FROM ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT FOR 
                   CERTAIN ALIENS WHO SERVED WITH SPECIAL 
                   GUERRILLA UNITS OR IRREGULAR FORCES IN LAOS.

       The requirement of paragraph (1) of section 312(a) of the 
     Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1423(a)(1)) shall 
     not apply to the naturalization of any person--
       (1) who--
       (A) was admitted into the United States as a refugee from 
     Laos pursuant to section 207 of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1157); and
       (B) served with a special guerrilla unit, or irregular 
     forces, operating from a base in Laos in support of the 
     United States military at any time during the period 
     beginning February 28, 1961, and ending September 18, 1978; 
     or
       (2) who--
       (A) satisfies the requirement of paragraph (1)(A); and
       (B) was the spouse of a person described in paragraph (1) 
     on the day on which such described person applied for 
     admission into the United States as a refugee.

     SEC. 3. SPECIAL CONSIDERATION CONCERNING CIVICS REQUIREMENT 
                   FOR CERTAIN ALIENS WHO SERVED WITH SPECIAL 
                   GUERRILLA UNITS OR IRREGULAR FORCES IN LAOS.

       The Attorney General shall provide for special 
     consideration, as determined by the Attorney General, 
     concerning the requirement of paragraph (2) of section 312(a) 
     of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1423(a)(2)) 
     with respect to the naturalization of any person described in 
     paragraph (1) or (2) of section 2 of this Act.

     SEC. 4. DOCUMENTATION OF QUALIFYING SERVICE.

       A person seeking an exemption under section 2 or special 
     consideration under section 3 shall submit to the Attorney 
     General documentation of their, or their spouse's, service 
     with a special guerrilla unit, or irregular forces, described 
     in section 2(1)(B), in the form of--
       (1) original documents;
       (2) an affidavit of the serving person's superior officer;
       (3) two affidavits from other individuals who also were 
     serving with such a special guerrilla unit, or irregular 
     forces, and who personally knew of the person's service; or
       (4) other appropriate proof.

     SEC. 5. DETERMINATION OF ELIGIBILITY FOR EXEMPTION AND 
                   SPECIAL CONSIDERATION.

       In determining a person's eligibility for an exemption 
     under section 2 or special consideration under section 3, the 
     Attorney General--
       (1) shall review the refugee processing documentation for 
     the person, or, in an appropriate case, for the person and 
     the person's spouse, to verify that the requirements of 
     section 2 relating to refugee applications and admissions 
     have been satisfied;
       (2) shall consider the documentation submitted by the 
     person under section 4;
       (3) shall request an advisory opinion from the Secretary of 
     Defense regarding the person's, or their spouse's, service in 
     a special guerrilla unit, or irregular forces, described in 
     section 2(1)(B) and shall take into account that opinion; and
       (4) may consider any certification prepared by the 
     organization known as ``Lao Veterans of America, Inc.'', or 
     any similar organization maintaining records with respect to 
     Hmong veterans or their families.

     SEC. 6. DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION AND PAYMENT OF FEES.

       This Act shall apply to a person only if the person's 
     application for naturalization is filed, as provided in 
     section 334 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 
     1445), with appropriate fees not later than 18 months after 
     the date of the enactment of this Act.

     SEC. 7. LIMITATION ON NUMBER OF BENEFICIARIES.

       Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the total 
     number of aliens who may be granted an exemption under 
     section 2 or special consideration under section 3, or both, 
     may not exceed 45,000.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Illinois (Mr. Hyde) and the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Vento) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde).


                             General Leave

  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks 
and include extraneous material on H.R. 371, the bill under 
consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Illinois?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Today, Mr. Speaker, this body considers legislation to facilitate 
citizenship opportunities for Hmong refugees who were recruited by the 
United States to assist our combat effort in Indochina. Twenty-five 
years after the end of the Vietnam War, we honor the heroism and 
sacrifices of the Hmong.
  At great personal peril and loss of life, they fought with us and 
performed critical roles in dangerous missions on our behalf.
  As a former CIA officer pointed out in a statement submitted to the 
Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims in 
the last Congress, and I quote, ``Throughout the war, CIA's 
paramilitary forces collected intelligence, used it in combat 
operations to tie down some 50,000 North Vietnamese forces in Laos, 
rescued downed American pilots and protected sensitive American 
installations at remote mountain tops.''

[[Page H2360]]

  Those Hmong veterans who survive the war face severe persecution for 
their association with us.
  H.R. 371 acknowledges that many Hmong veterans face unique language 
problems that present insurmountable obstacles to U.S. citizenship. The 
Hmong we recruited during the Vietnam War, including some at a very 
early age, lived at a predominantly preliterate society.
  Lieutenant Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President, Lao Veterans of 
America, explained in his statement for the 1997 hearing of the 
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, ``Cultural barriers and the 
fact that a written Hmong language was not used in much of Laos until 
late in its history have compounded the problems of literacy for the 
Hmong.''
  In recognition of their compelling and extraordinary sacrifices, H.R. 
371 provides for an exemption from the English language requirement and 
authorizes special consideration related to the civics requirement.
  The gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Vento), our esteemed colleague, is 
the author of this legislation, and he may have put it best when he 
testified as follows before the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims 
in the last Congress: ``They probably have passed the most important 
test, Mr. Chairman, and that is risking their lives for the values and 
beliefs that we revere as Americans and saving American lives.''
  The step we hopefully will take today is overdue. In the 104th 
Congress, this body passed an omnibus immigration reform bill in a form 
that included provisions designed to expedite naturalization for those 
who served with special guerilla units in Laos, but these provisions 
were not incorporated in the final version of the legislation.
  In the 105th Congress, the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Vento) 
introduced as H.R. 371 language virtually identical to the original 
House-passed provisions from the previous Congress.
  In June 1997, the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims held a 
hearing on H.R. 371. The following year, the subcommittee favorably 
reported an amended version of the bill to the full Committee on the 
Judiciary. As amended, H.R. 371 addressed concerns about the potential 
for fraud by delineating steps to be taken in determining eligibility 
and limiting to 45,000 the number of potential beneficiaries.
  Although the full Committee on the Judiciary in June 1998 ordered the 
bill as amended in subcommittee favorably reported, no further action 
was taken in the 105th Congress. In the 106th Congress, the gentleman 
from Minnesota (Mr. Vento) reintroduced his bill under the same number, 
incorporating changes the Committee on the Judiciary supported in 1998. 
In March of this year, the full Committee on the Judiciary acted again 
favorably, this time ordering H.R. 371 reported by voice vote.
  As this history documents, the details of this legislation have been 
considered thoroughly by the Committee on the Judiciary, and we bring 
it up on the floor today with improvements my committee approved in 
both the last Congress and the current Congress. In our most recent 
markup, I displayed a Pandau ``story cloth'' depicting the escape of 
Hmong refugees across the Mekong River to a camp in Thailand after 
their villages were strafed by Communist forces in Laos. Such story 
cloths were a way of communicating Hmong history by people who knew no 
written language.
  This bill will permit a limited number of lawful permanent residents 
of the United States who served with special guerilla units or 
irregular forces in support of the U.S. military during the Vietnam war 
to become citizens. They must have been legally admitted to this 
country as refugees from Laos, and provision is also made for certain 
spouses who came as refugees.

                              {time}  1515

  It is particularly significant that the bill before us focuses on 
people who are already here in the United States legally and 
permanently. In view of their commitment to our democracy and the great 
hardships they endured when they made common cause with us, we act 
appropriately by extending a hand to them now and helping them become 
citizens of their adopted land. This is just and humane legislation 
Members can endorse regardless of political affiliation.
  Governor Ventura of Minnesota appealed to me on behalf of these 
freedom fighters in February, and I welcomed the opportunity to assure 
him and the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Vento) that I would do 
whatever I could to help get H.R. 371 enacted into law. Supporters of 
this important bill include the American Legion and the Special Forces 
Association. I urge my colleagues to support enactment of H.R. 371.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. VENTO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume; 
and I, of course, rise in strong support of this measure, the Hmong 
Veterans Naturalization Act.
  First and foremost I would like to thank the gentleman from Illinois 
(Mr. Hyde), the distinguished chairman, for his leadership and 
continuing support throughout the committee process. I would also like 
to, of course, acknowledge the strong support I have had from my friend 
and colleague, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith), who for some time 
has encouraged and helped me refine this legislation; and of course the 
ranking member on the committee, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. 
Conyers).
  I would especially like to thank the gentleman from North Carolina 
(Mr. Watt) for his work in the past years, as well as the gentlewoman 
from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee), the current ranking member on the 
subcommittee with the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith).
  Furthermore, of course, the Department of Justice and the Immigration 
and Naturalization Service have extended themselves and provided 
assistance and counsel in working out the final language in the bill. 
As we know in this body, good intentions are not enough. We need to 
have precise language with regards to Immigration and Naturalization 
Service issues because misunderstandings do arise.
  Today is a historic day and, of course, this past month we have been 
talking about the 25-year anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the 
last of the American troops leaving Vietnam. Events have been relived 
these past weeks, harsh memories of Vietnam that are unpleasant to all 
Americans. While the Vietnam War is over for all America, the plight of 
our friends within this region and Laos must be remembered.
  The Lao-Hmong soldiers, as young as 10 years old, were recruited and 
fought and died alongside 58,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, and airmen in 
Vietnam. As a result of their contributions, bravery and loyalty to the 
United States, the Lao-Hmong were tragically overrun by the Communist 
forces and lost their homeland and status in Laos after the Vietnam 
War. Between 10,000 and 20,000 Lao-Hmong were killed in combat-related 
incidents, and over 100,000 had to flee to refugee camps and other 
nations to survive.
  Mr. Speaker, this is a point where we can be very proud that the 
United States did not abandon these camps and these people, but we 
responded and opened our doors for refugee assistance and permitted 
them to come into the United States. Today, in Minnesota, because of 
the growing population in the Midwest, we have nearly 60,000 Lao-Hmong 
that now know Minnesota as their new home.
  Many of the older Lao-Hmong patriots who made it to the U.S. are 
separated from their family members and have had great difficulty in 
adjusting to many aspects of life and culture in the United States, 
including passing aspects of our required citizenship tests. Learning 
to read in English has been the greatest obstacle for the Lao-Hmong 
because written characters in the Hmong language have only been 
introduced in recent years.
  As the chairman of the committee pointed out, the Pandau did the 
illustrations because they did not have a written language. Very often 
the only way they could record their history was through their 
wonderful artwork. If my colleagues would like to see some more of 
this, Mr. Speaker, they can come to St. Paul, and even in my office. I 
have a large hanging about the size of a bedspread of this type of 
depicted character which reflects this wonderful needle work and craft 
work and history really of the Lao-Hmong and their Chinese origin.
  This act, of course, has been explained by the chairman. It 
facilitates the assistance with regards to citizenship. It extends this 
benefit. There are

[[Page H2361]]

tight limits on the bill. I would note that the chairman of the 
committee has gone beyond and above the call of duty. He had to arm 
wrestle Governor Jesse Ventura; and fortunately, they declared a draw 
and he decided to move ahead with the legislation.
  This legislation is supported by a whole host of veterans 
organizations. It is good legislation. It is targeted legislation. It 
is limited. And it does respond, I think, to the Lao-Hmong problem.
  I would say to my colleagues that while the English language and 
citizenship tests are important, that the Lao-Hmong have indeed passed 
a more important test. They put their lives on the line to save 
American sailors and soldiers. They put their lives on the line for the 
values that are reflected in the promise of America and in this Nation. 
And so I am proud to stand here today to represent them and to ask my 
colleagues for their support in supporting this bill.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman 
yield?
  Mr. VENTO. I yield to the gentleman from California.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to thank 
this gentleman for this legislation and for sticking with it all this 
time on behalf of the Lao-Hmong.
  As the gentleman knows, California has many Lao-Hmong residents in 
our State and also in my district, and they have been fantastic 
constituents and residents of our State and of our country. I want to 
thank the gentleman so very much for finally getting this bill to the 
floor again so that we can deal with this problem that he has so 
adequately addressed.
  Mr. VENTO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman; and I reserve the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. Gilman), the distinguished chairman of the Committee on 
International Relations.
  (Mr. GILMAN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this 
time, and I am pleased to rise in strong support of H.R. 371, the Hmong 
Veterans Naturalization Act of 2000.
  It is long overdue, Mr. Speaker, that we gave special recognition to 
the Hmong, who courageously fought with our personnel in Vietnam. They 
were working in the underground activities in Laos. I had the 
opportunity of visiting General Vang Pao headquarters back in 1973, and 
he showed me all the bullet holes around his headquarters where they 
had been attacked time and time again. They served valiantly and 
courageously. Then, after the war was over, we left them out to dry, to 
hang; and we have not done anything to assist them over these years.
  I want to commend our distinguished chairman of the Committee on the 
Judiciary, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde), for expediting the 
naturalization of aliens who served with special guerrilla units in 
Laos, guerrilla units that did an outstanding job on behalf of our 
Nation. We can do no less for so many who did so much for all of us.
  Mr. VENTO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to 
mention that there are 108 sponsors of this, including colleagues like 
the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Kind), who has a significant 
population. The entire Minnesota delegation is in support of this, as 
are numerous Members from this area.
  The gentleman from Guam (Mr. Underwood) and the gentleman from Texas 
(Mr. Smith) wanted to speak on this, and I know they are going to put 
their statements in the record.
  Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back 
the balance of my time.
  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to 
say that, in addition to being very honored to help pass this excellent 
bill and the regret it took so many years to get to this point, one of 
the ancillary benefits of the campaign for this bill was a visit by the 
governor of Minnesota, Mr. Ventura. He and I did engage in some arm 
wrestling. And I want to say that the fact that he let me win has 
nothing to do with my support for this excellent bill.
  Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 371, the Hmong 
Veterans' Naturalization Act.
  H.R. 371, is a necessary step in assisting the Hmong, a special group 
of legal immigrants who served with the U.S. Armed Forces and now 
require help in obtaining U.S. citizenship. It waives the residency 
requirement for those Hmong and their spouses. Additionally, it waives 
the English language test and residency requirement for attainment of 
U.S. citizenship. It would only affect individuals who reside legally 
in this country and would not grant veteran's status or make the Hmong 
people who served in the Special Guerrilla Forces eligible for 
veterans' benefits.
  This important legislation would impact thousands of people in the 
United States, including the large Lao-Hmong community in my home 
district of western Wisconsin. The history of Hmong demonstrates the 
need for this legislation. The Hmong are not considered veterans by our 
government even though they participated in covert operations directed 
by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Many served in non-uniformed 
units, therefore making it uncertain if ``veteran'' status can be 
proved. The Hmong aided our efforts during the Southeastern Asian 
conflict at a high personal cost. Between 10,000 and 20,000 Hmong lost 
their lives. The Hmong population lost their homeland to Communist 
forces. After the war, more than 100,000 Hmong were forced to either 
flee or live in refugee camps. Many Hmong were separated from their 
families.
  The process of assimilation to the United States has been especially 
challenging for the Hmong. A major problem for many Hmong is an 
insufficient command of the English language which prevents them from 
completing the naturalization process. This is partly due to the fact 
that the Hmong did not have a written language until the 1950s. 
Therefore, learning to speak, read, and write the English language has 
been extremely difficult. The English-learning process has also been 
stymied by the high rate of illiteracy among the Hmong in this recently 
acquired written language. The majority of the Hmong who were brought 
to the United States as political refugees had very little opportunity 
for education during their war-ravaged years in Laos.
  Mr. Speaker, the Hmong people need our help. It is wrong to abandon 
these men and women who served as valuable allies to us during the 
Southeastern Asian conflict and that is why I support H.R. 371.
  Mr. UNDERWOOD. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 
371, the Hmong Veterans' Naturalization Act of 2000. I commend my 
colleague, Mr. Bruce Vento, for his leadership and sponsorship with 
this important measure.
  The Hmong veterans have more than proven themselves worthy of 
American citizenship. It is the obligation of the United States 
government to pass this bill, which will create an exemption of the 
English language requirement for naturalization purposes.
  As many of us are aware, from 1961-73 during the Vietnam War, the 
Central Intelligence Agency recruited tens of thousands of Hmong and 
Laotians to serve in special guerrilla forces fighting the North 
Vietnamese and the Communist government in Laos. These soldiers fought 
valiantly alongside American troops. Through their efforts, they were 
able to defend intelligence sites, prevent thousands of U.S. troops 
from an ambush by North Vietnamese troops, and rescue hundreds of 
downed American pilots. Between 10,000-20,000 Hmong and Laotian 
soldiers lost their lives in service to the U.S. government.
  Unfortunatley, when the war ended, Hmong and Laotians were forced to 
flee their country in an effort to avoid persecution by their 
governments. The sacrifices they had to make were immense--they gave up 
their homes, their livelihood and their country. Over 150,000 of them 
have resettled in the U.S. as political refugees.
  Since then, many Hmong and Laotian veterans have faced great 
difficulty in attaining naturalization status. In fact, today, 
approximately 60.4 percent of the Hmong and 66.1 percent of the 
Laotians are still legal permanent residents.
  The barriers Hmong and Laotian veterans face involve the significant 
level of illiteracy and predominant lack of formal education in their 
community. It was only forty short years ago that Hmong became a 
written language; thus, many in their community have never learned to 
read, or to write. This fact leads to the incredible difficulty, and 
sometimes, impossibility, for the Hmong veterans to learn the English 
language enough to pass the citizenship test.
  Mr. Speaker, during the Vietnam war, the U.S. government promised the 
Hmong and Laotian soldiers that they would find a refuge in the United 
States if we lost the war. In fact, the CIA promised to evacuate the 
Hmong, only to leave them behind in 1974.
  It is important for us now to fulfill that promise, and to recognize 
and honor the contributions the Hmong and Laotian veterans have made, 
as well as the lives that were lost, to

[[Page H2362]]

the United States war efforts. The best way for us to do those things 
is to grant an exemption for these individuals from the English 
language requirement for naturalization. This exemption, like our 
fulfillment of the promise, is long overdue.
  Mr. DOOLEY of California. Mr. Speaker I stand with my colleagues in 
support of H.R. 371, the Hmong Veterans Naturalization Act.
  By approving this bill, we will make an important contribution to the 
efforts of the thousands of Hmong veterans and their families to become 
United States citizens. For over two decades, Hmong veterans have 
encountered serious obstacles that have impeded their ability to become 
U.S. citizens. This bill addresses this by exempting Hmong veterans 
from English language proficiency and residency requirements.
  Many Americans are only beginning to appreciate and recognize the 
invaluable service and bravery of Hmong veterans. Today, we have an 
opportunity to assure that their service to freedom and to the United 
States will not be forgotten.
  Hmong veterans fought in the Vietnam War alongside American forces at 
great personal peril and loss of life. They performed critical roles in 
dangerous missions, collected vital intelligence, rescued downed 
American pilots and defended sensitive American installations at remote 
locations.
  Tragically, at the end of the war and as a result of their service 
and bravery, tens of thousands of Hmong freedom fighters and their 
families constantly faced the horrible reality of life in prison camps 
and the threat of genocide.
  Many Hmong veterans and their families sought refuge in the United 
States. California's Central Valley, which I represent, has been a 
primary relocation site for them. I am proud that the Central Valley is 
one of the most ethnically diverse parts of the country and that the 
Hmong community has contributed greatly to that diversity and enriched 
us with their traditions.
  In light of their service, heroism and dedication to freedom, it is 
only fitting that America embrace those Hmong veterans that fought with 
distinction and honor. I urge my colleagues to join me in support of 
this bill.
  Mr. BARRETT of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, today I rise as a cosponsor of 
H.R. 371, the Hmong Veterans' Naturalization Act of 1999, to honor the 
Hmong people, many of whom risked their lives or died in service to the 
United States during the Vietnam War.
  There are over 16,000 Hmong in my home-state of Wisconsin, and the 
legislation before the House of Representatives today will help many 
Hmong patriots who made it to the U.S. and are currently separated from 
their families.
  This bill will allow more Hmomg people to become United States 
Citizens by providing interpreter-assistance during the citizenship 
test. Unlike other languages, written characters were only introduced 
in the Hmong language in recent years, so learning to read in a foreign 
language presents an extremely difficult challenge. By providing 
interpreters, the family reunification process in the Hmong community 
can begin sooner.
  Providing this service is a very small token of our appreciation for 
a people that so loyally fought on behalf of the United States, some of 
whom started fighting at the age of 10. The Hmong ``mountain men'' not 
only rescued downed American pilots, but fought heroically alongside 
U.S. soldiers in the Vietnam War.
  It is my hope that by passing this bill today, the United States 
Congress will show its gratitude to the Hmong people, in appreciation 
of the many sacrifices they have made for this country.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, this is an important bill 
because the Hmong have stood by the U.S. at a crucial time in our 
history and now is the time to repay and honor the loyalty of Hmong 
veterans. The Hmong were a pre-literate society. I would like to 
congratulate Congressman Bruce Vento for his leadership on this issue.
  The Hmong had no written language in use when the United States 
recruited them during the Vietnam War. The best symbol of why H.R. 371 
is necessary is the Hmong ``story cloth,'' the Pandau cloth, that is 
their embroidered cloth record of important historical events and oral 
traditions.
  The Hmong were recruited, largely, as boy soldiers. Many of the 
veterans of the U.S. secret Army were recruited at age 12, 13 and 14 
years of age. The CIA in coordination with ``Air America'' built 
hundreds of airstrips and bases for the Hmong and their American 
advisors to conduct military operations.
  The Hmong were critical to the American war strategy in S.E. Asia--
especially the U.S. air strategy. Mr. Speaker, this legislation 
provides for the expedited naturalization of Hmong veterans of the U.S. 
Secret Army currently residing in the United States (as legal aliens) 
who served with U.S. clandestine and special forces during the Vietnam 
War by allowing them to take the citizenship test with a translator 
since the Hmong are a tribal people with no written language, thus 
relying solely on the ``story cloths''.
  The bill is capped at 45,000, in terms of the total number of Hmong 
veterans, their widows and orphans who currently reside in the United 
States who would fall under the legislation. This cap is supported by 
the Hmong veterans in the United States and is considered to be a 
generous cap. I support this legislation to provide relief to the Hmong 
heroes.
  Mr. BALLENGER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the Hmong 
Veterans' Naturalization Act because I feel that we should reward these 
brave individuals who assisted American efforts in the war against 
communism in Southeast Asia. The Hmong which we seek to honor today 
were a Laotian-based guerrilla group who fought valiantly alongside 
American and South Vietnamese troops in Vietnam. Many Hmong risked and 
lost their lives in defense of democracy at a crucial time in the 
history of that region. With Communism spreading across the Asian 
continent during the 60's, it was crucial for American troops to 
receive indigenous help in defense of South Vietnam. They were brave 
soldiers of freedom at time of great uncertainty, and their efforts 
have gone largely ignored for far too long.
  Today, the Hmong are valuable citizens and employees in many 
communities across the United States, including the 10th district of 
North Carolina which I have the privilege to serve. In fact, I employ 
several Hmong in my company in Hickory, NC. They are truly great 
citizens who offer a strong work ethic and another facet of cultural 
diversity to my community, and to communities across this nation.
  The Laotian Hmong have been the victims of persecution and genocide 
at the hands of the Communist government in Laos, largely due to the 
help they provided America during the Vietnam War. Now it is time for 
us to reward them for their sacrifice and service. Please vote yes 
today on H.R. 371; let us reward these brave people by expediting the 
naturalization of Hmong aliens who served with these special guerrilla 
units in Laos during the Vietnam War.
  Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back 
the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde) that the House suspend the rules and 
pass the bill, H.R. 371, as amended.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor 
thereof) the rules were suspended and the bill, as amended, was passed.
  The title of the bill was amended so as to read: ``A bill to 
facilitate the naturalization of aliens who served with special 
guerrilla units or irregular forces in Laos.''.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.


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