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[Congressional Record: September 25, 2000 (House)]
[Page H8006-H8008]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr25se00-54]                         



 
         HMONG VETERANS' NATURALIZATION ACT AMENDMENTS OF 2000

  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill 
(H.R. 5234) to amend the Hmong Veterans' Naturalization Act of 2000 to 
extend the applicability of that Act to certain former spouses of 
deceased Hmong veterans.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                               H.R. 5234

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

[[Page H8007]]

     SECTION 1. EXTENSION OF HMONG VETERANS' NATURALIZATION ACT OF 
                   2000 TO CERTAIN FORMER SPOUSES OF DECEASED 
                   HMONG VETERANS.

       (a) In General.--Section 2 of the Hmong Veterans' 
     Naturalization Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-207; 114 Stat. 
     316; 8 U.S.C. 1423 note) is amended--
       (1) in paragraph (1), by striking ``or'' at the end;
       (2) in paragraph (2), by striking the period at the end and 
     inserting ``; or''; and
       (3) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
       ``(3) who--
       ``(A) satisfies the requirement of paragraph (1)(A); and
       ``(B) is the surviving spouse of a person described in 
     paragraph (1)(B) which described person was killed or died in 
     Laos, Thailand, or Vietnam.''.
       (b) Conforming Amendment.--Section 3 of such Act is amended 
     by striking ``or (2)'' and inserting ``, (2), or (3)''.
       (c) Deadline for Application.--Section 6 of such Act is 
     amended by adding at the end the following new sentence: ``In 
     the case of a person described in section 2(3), the 
     application referred to in the preceding sentence, and 
     appropriate fees, shall be filed not later than 18 months 
     after the date of the enactment of this sentence.''.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Illinois (Mr. Hyde) and the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Kildee) 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 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.
  Mr. Speaker, earlier this year Congress enacted legislation 
facilitating naturalization for Hmong veterans who were admitted to the 
United States as refugees. Recruited to assist our combat effort in 
Indochina, the Hmong had made great sacrifices on our behalf and faced 
persecution because of their association with us.
  Many Hmong in the United States today continue to face unique 
language problems that can be traced to the fact that they grew up in a 
predominantly preliterate society without educational opportunities. By 
enacting Public Law 106-207, the Hmong Veterans Naturalization Act of 
2000, this Congress very appropriately sought to remove insurmountable 
obstacles to citizenship by providing an exemption from the English 
language requirement and authorizing special consideration relating to 
the civics requirement. The potential beneficiaries, Hmong veterans and 
spouses who came to the United States as refugees, were limited to 
45,000.
  The bill before us today corrects an omission in Public Law 106-207's 
description of spouses without raising the ceiling on total potential 
beneficiaries. Under H.R. 5234, surviving spouses of Hmong who served 
with special guerrilla units or irregular forces and were killed or 
died in Laos, Thailand or Vietnam can qualify for facilitated 
naturalization.

                              {time}  1445

  The equities in favor of helping these widows certainly are as great 
as the equities in favor of helping widows who already benefit from 
Public Law 106-207, namely, those whose husbands were able to apply for 
refugee status and make it to the United States. The widows in both 
groups are living permanently in this country after having been 
admitted as refugees.
  The surviving spouses we seek to help now, like the widows who 
benefitted from Public Law 106-207, are survivors of those who made 
common cause with us at great personal peril to themselves and their 
families.
  I commend the gentleman from California (Mr. Radanovich) for 
introducing this important bill and the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. 
Vento), the author of the bill that became Public Law 106-207 and the 
cosponsor of H.R. 5234, who also deserves great credit for his tireless 
efforts on behalf of the Hmong over the years.
  This is a humane measure that merits the support of my colleagues.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  (Mr. KILDEE asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks, and include extraneous material.)
  Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, as is his custom, the gentleman from 
Illinois (Mr. Hyde) has given a very, very thorough explanation of this 
bill, and I concur with what the gentleman has said.
  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. They had no written language in use when the United 
States recruited them during the Vietnam War. The best symbol of why 
H.R. 5234 is necessary is the Hmong ``story cloth,'' the Pandau cloth, 
that is their embroidered cloth record of important historical events 
and oral traditions.
  Mr. Speaker, I approve of the new correction language which allows 
the spouses of the Hmong veterans who made it to the United States, but 
for whatever reason their husbands did not and remained in Laos. This 
additional correction which is being initiated by the House will waive 
the language and civics requirements for these widows who have been 
granted legal permanent residency.
  I join Chairman Smith and the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on 
Immigration and Claims in commending the Lao Veterans of America for 
its tireless efforts for the Hmong. I too also commend our colleague, 
the gentleman from Minnesota, Mr. Vento, for his sponsorship of this 
legislation.
  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 of number of 
Hmong veterans, their widows and orphans who currently reside in the 
United States who would fall under the legislation. This correction 
legislation will not count against the cap. 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. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support for H.R. 5234, the 
Hmong Veterans Naturalization Act. I commend Representative Radanovich, 
the gentleman from California, for crafting this important bill.
  The spouses of the brave Hmong freedom fighters who were our allies 
during the Vietnam War deserve to be given special consideration for 
naturalization. The Hmong Veterans Naturalization Act, H.R. 371 was 
signed into law on May 26 of this year. That historic legislation 
assists Hmong and Laotian veterans of the U.S. secret army that fought 
in Laos. Currently, however, several thousand Laotian and Hmong widows 
living in the United States whose husbands died in Southeast Asia 
during the Vietnam War were excluded under the new law. H.R. 5234 would 
rectify this problem.
  It is the very least that we can do for these people who had to flee 
their homeland because they protected our downed fighter pilots and 
fought by the sides of our soldiers.
  Accordingly, I urge our colleagues to support H.R. 5234.
  Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 5234, 
legislation to amend The Hmong Veterans' Naturalization Act of 2000.
  I am pleased with the passage of H.R. 5234, the Hmong Veterans' 
Naturalization Act, and the president signing it into law. It was 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.
  The Hmong Veterans' Naturalization was an important piece of 
legislation that will impact thousands of people in the United States, 
including the large Lao-Hmong community in my home district of western 
Wisconsin. H.R. 5234, however, extends the applicability of the Hmong 
Veterans' Naturalization Act to widows of the veterans covered by that 
law. They were inadvertently left out under the original legislation. 
Under this measure, therefore, the widows of those veterans would be 
exempt from certain citizenship requirements. This bill will help many 
more Hmong families and that is why I support this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, the Hmong people need our help. It is wrong to abandon 
these men and women who served as valuable allies to us

[[Page H8008]]

during the Southeastern Asian conflict. I urge all my colleagues to 
support this legislation. And I want to especially commend and thank 
Representative Bruce Vento for his leadership and hard work on behalf 
of the Hmong and this legislation. I'm sure all my colleagues join me 
in wishing him a speedy recovery and a happy retirement.
  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. They had no written 
language in use when the United States recruited them during the 
Vietnam War. The best symbol of why H.R. 5234 is necessary is the Hmong 
``story cloth,'' the Pandau cloth, that is their embroidered cloth 
record of important historical events and oral traditions.
  Mr. Speaker, I approve of the new correction language which allows 
the spouses of the Hmong veterans who made it to the United States, but 
for whatever reason their husbands did not and they remained in Laos. 
This additional correction which is being initiated by the House will 
waive the language and civics requirements for these widows who have 
been granted legal permanent residency.
  I join Chairman Smith in commending the Lao Veterans of America for 
its tireless efforts for the Hmong. I too also commend our colleague, 
the gentleman from Minnesota, Mr. Vento, for his sponsorship of this 
legislation.
  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 of number of Hmong veterans, their widows and 
orphans who currently reside in the United States who would fall under 
this legislation. This correction legislation will not count against 
the cap. 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. VENTO. Mr. Speaker, I support H.R. 5234, a measure that would 
extend the applicability of the Hmong Veteran's Naturalization Act (PL 
106-207) to widows of the veterans covered by that law.
  As I've stated in the past, the Lao-Hmong people stood honorably by 
the United States at a critical time in our nation's history. 
Approximately 60,000 Lao-Hmong know the Minnesota region as their new 
home and I have long championed efforts to help ease their adjustment 
into our society. Many of the older Lao-Hmong patriots who made it to 
the U.S. are separated from their family members and have had a 
difficult time adjusting to many aspects of life and culture in the 
U.S., including passing aspects of the required citizenship test.
  I appreciate the efforts of those in my district and nationwide to 
clarify an unintended oversight of the Hmong Veteran's Naturalization 
Act. Clearly, this Congress did not intend to exclude the widows of 
those veterans who sacrificed for our country. It is my hope that this 
technical bill will clear the confusion, and that the Immigration and 
Naturalization Service (INS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) will work 
to ensure full and proper implementation of the language and spirit of 
this law.
  I was greatly heartened when my colleagues joined me earlier this 
year to stand with the Lao-Hmong in their struggle to become U.S. 
citizens and to live a good life in the United States. We were right to 
recognize their dedication and service. Now we must guarantee that no 
one is inadvertently left out. I strongly urge your support of this 
bill.
  Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. LaHood). 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. 5234.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor 
thereof) the rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________





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