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Half American but Excluded: Ameriasians and the Fight for U.S. Citizenship

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Valerie Lo

on 24 January 2014

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Transcript of Half American but Excluded: Ameriasians and the Fight for U.S. Citizenship

Main Problems:

Amerasians have been denied entitlements available to any other child born overseas to a U.S. citizen

Another HUGE disparity:
Amerasian Filipinos and Japanese are not covered at all since most were born during "peacetime"

Senator Daniel Inouye (HI) tried to extend Ameriasian acts but Senate Judiciary committee rejected them claiming they were not victims of discrimination.
Amerasians in the Present
Suffer higher levels of discrimination, unemployment, poverty, homelessness,and abuse/violence due to what they represent.

Americans see legislation to help Amerasians as economic or political issues but to the Amerasians, Life will change drastically!

Issues in South Korea even after 50+ yrs of Amerasian presence.
MR. Oh - Korean Amerasian
R.R. encouraged and clubs/bars near bases

Jobs on or near bases

Prostitution industry

Many U.S. servicemen and Asian women had serious relationships but men had a wife/family back home

Forced relocation, base closure, death

Men/fathers not willing to be found

Over 20 years later...
Earliest may have been from 1850 when Commodore Matthew Perry opened up Japan.

Wars and military bases in Asia resulted in most "war babies" and Ameriasian children.

Denied residency and citizenship entitlements that are available to any other child born overseas to a U.S. citizen

Forgotten Filipino Amerasians
Ex: U.S. Naval Base at Subic Bay

15,000 worked in bars/clubs
"Wives for rent"

1992 - bases in the Philippines closed =>
estimated 50,000 Amerasians left behind

Mixed race Filipinos not covered by Homecoming Acts
Disparate & Limited Legislation
1982 Act: permanent residency to Amerasians from S. Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand

1988 Homecoming Act: American citizenship for Amerasians born in Vietnam 1962-76 & their families

2003 Amerasian Naturalization - only helps Vietnamese

2004 Bill proposed for all children of American soldiers & Asian mothers born overseas to be given citizenship

Today: Amerasians are still unaddressed by current reforms to immigration
Mixed European American and Korean

Mistreated in school, teachers & kids uncomfortable & curious about his racial difference

Mother married a Korean but Mr. Oh was never accepted by his step-father

At 13, asked him mom to adopt him out to an American family - was not qualified as a "war orphan" b/c he was older than 10

At 15- mom died and soon stepfather stopped paying for school and kicked him out

Eventually came to U.S. but was still rejected by ethnic Koreans
Half American but Excluded: Amerasians and the Fight for U.S. Citizenship
Any person who was fathered by a U.S. citizen and whose mother is or was an Asian national.
Nguyet Lam - Vietnamese Amerasian
Vietnamese and African American - stigmatized race even affects family members/do not want to be seen with her.

After orphanages closed in 1975, Amerasians like Lam left on the streets, schools taught that Americans were the enemy, universities would not admit them.

Works to end domestic violence against Amerasians immigrants.

Currently in Vietnam
Average of 240 visas per year granted, in 2010, it was as low as 23

Amerasians that are now adults and have spent their entire lives in Vietnam but many insist they are American.

Life in Vietnam = poverty, labor camps, slums, discriminated due to physical appearance, illiterate

Told they are not Vietnamese but cannot gain access to America

Many were denied admission to U.S., many still looking for their fathers
Full transcript