Amerasian Homecoming Act of 1987

The Law: Federal legislation designed to ease immigration of Vietnamese Amerasian children and their close relatives to the United States.
Date: Enacted on December 22, 1987; effective on March 21, 1988.
Significance: This was the first federal law that substantially eased the immigration of Amerasian children born during the Vietnam War—mostly the offspring of American fathers and Vietnamese mothers. By 2009, about 25,000 Vietnamese Amerasians and 60,000 to 70,000 of their relatives had immigrated to the United States under this law.
During the long conflict in Vietnam in which the United States was involved from the early 1960’s until 1975, many American soldiers and civilian personnel working in Vietnam fathered children with Vietnamese women. Because U.S. authorities discouraged marriages between Americans and Vietnamese, only the most determined Americans managed to take their Vietnamese wives and children to the United States before American involvement in the war ended in early 1975.
At the time Vietnam was officially reunified under communist rule on July 2, 1976, it was estimated that tens of thousands of Vietnamese Amerasian children were living in the country with virtually no contact with their American fathers. The communists detested these Amerasians, whom they regarded as contemptible half-breeds, or bui doi, “children of the dust.” Their most severe contempt was for children who had African American fathers.
In 1982, the U.S. Congress passed the Amerasian Immigration Act, which theoretically allowed for the immigration of Vietnamese Amerasians to America. However, because the Vietnamese government was not cooperative, only about 6,000 Amerasians and 11,000 of their relatives reached the United States under this law, which was part of the Orderly Departure Program that began in 1979. However, in 1987, even this limited avenue for Amerasian immigration appeared to close as Vietnam objected to the program’s classification of Amerasians as refugees. In response, the U.S. Congress passed a bill sponsored by Robert Mrazek and others in the House of Representatives and John McCain in the Senate as the Amerasian Homecoming Act. The law became effective on March 21, 1988. It was set to expire in two years but was extended. In 2009, it was still the basis for processing a shrinking number of applicants, who had to be children of American citizens and had to have been born between January 1, 1962, and January 1, 1976.
Under the law, Amerasians and their relatives could apply for immigration to the United States. They were given full refugee assistance, even though they were not officially classified as refugees. During the peak years of immigration under this law, from 1988 to 1993, about 95 percent of all applicants and their relatives were admitted. By that time, the law had facilitated immigration for about 20,000 Amerasians and about 50,000 of their relatives. In 1993, however, the U.S. government learned that there had been widespread misuse of the law, as ordinary Vietnamese citizens eager to go to America had been paying bribes in order to pose as relatives of Amerasians who were pressured to participate in the scheme. It was estimated that about 17 percent of the immigrants admitted under this law were fake relatives. In response, U.S. government approval of later applications fell to as low as 5 percent after 1994.
By 2009, about 25,000 Amerasians and 60,000 to 70,000 of their relatives had immigrated to America under the Amerasian Homecoming Act. By then, however, the annual numbers had severely declined. In fiscal year 2007, for example, only 129 immigrants were admitted to the United States under the law. In June, 2009, the U.S. consulate in Ho Chi Minh City began processing applications on a special appointment basis only.
In general, the Amerasians who came to the United States with their mothers did the best in assimilating to American society. Many faced great hardships, but most proved resilient and successful. However, only 3 percent of them managed to contact their American fathers after arriving in the United States. By 2009, about 50 percent of all the immigrants who arrived under the law had become U.S. citizens.
R. C. Lutz

Further Reading
McKelvey, Robert. The Dust of Life: America’s Children Abandoned in Vietnam. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999.
Nguyen, Kien. The Unwanted. Boston: Back Bay Books, 2001.
Yarborough, Trin. Surviving Twice: Amerasian Children of the Vietnam War. Dulles, Va.: Potomac Books, 2005.
See also: Amerasian children; Asian immigrants; Child immigrants; Families; Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1975; Nguyen v. Immigration and Naturalization Service ; Orderly Departure Program; Refugees; VietnamWar; Vietnamese immigrants.

Add comments

Josie Jent0 answers 14 February 2016 09:57

I just found out that my dad fathered a child in Vietnam from his tour May 1964 - May 1965. I have information regarding my father's tour, but no details on the child or mother other than where my father was stationed.

Any resources to connect me to possible leads of finding my sibling?

Jack jent0 answers 19 March 2016 12:16

Well josie Jent is a liar. How did you find out your father has a child in Vietnam since no one in the family talks to you? Is this another one of your ways to try and disgrace your family? You know you haven't talked to anyone in your family in years. I can understand you would love a sibling because you have been dis owned by your family but now you make stuff up? Geez you are a nutter that keeps getting nuttier.
Quote: Josie Jent
I just found out that my dad fathered a child in Vietnam from his tour May 1964 - May 1965. I have information regarding my father's tour, but no details on the child or mother other than where my father was stationed.

Any resources to connect me to possible leads of finding my sibling?

Josie Jent0 answers 29 May 2016 21:34

Dis owning and abandoning their children is a common trait among the Jent men. Hopefully this one will get his due inheritence and financially compensated before its too late.

Jimmy Miller0 answers 7 August 2016 23:13

To whom it may concerns,

My name is Jimmy Miller. I am a founder of Amerasians Without Borders - a non-profit organization group based in Washington States. Currently, we have been giving free DNA tests for the last (400) Amerasians who are still living in Vietnam because their visas to the US, their fatherland, were denied by the US consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
We are asking for your advices as to who in Congress the AWB should contact so they can become aware about those remaining Amerasians who wish to come to the US under the Amerasian Homecoming Act. Those Amerasians were born to American fathers who served during the Vietnam War in 1960’s-1970’s but unfortunately they no longer kept or have any documents to prove that their fathers are/were Americans due to the discrimination in Vietnam.

I understand that the U.S government is still spending millions of dollars in Vietnam to look for the remains of those MIA even the Vietnam War had ended more than 41 years ago. I strongly believe that the U.S government should bring home all their people, confirmed dead or alive, for closure, and therefore it should be including those Amerasians because they are the Vietnam War veterans’ children.

While diversity is great for our country and the government has vetted and accepted hundreds of thousands refugees from all over the world to the US each year, including ten of thousand refugees from Syria currently, but the government has not allowed the remaining Amerasians to come to the US because they could not prove who are their fathers.

Those Amerasians’ fathers could be amongst those MIA or amongst those 58,000 men who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and their names are sadly engraved on the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall. How ironic that the American veteran’s children and their grandchildren have been suffering greatly in Vietnam in the past 41 years.
I know Senators and U.S Representatives care deeply about the veteran issues and we are desperately asking for your help and support. We are willing to meet any of you either at the office in Washington D.C. or in your own State as much as needed regarding the Amerasians’ DNA analysis results.

Again, thank you so much for your consideration for those unfortunate Amerasians a last chance. I wish you nothing but best wishes and thank you for your services.

Highest regards,

Jimmy Miller
Founder of Amerasians Without Borders

Jennifer Bullard0 answers 9 November 2016 20:23

I am trying to locate a possible half brother from Vietnam. My father served in Vietnam 1969-1970, his name was Wayne Glassey. He was dating a woman from Vietnam and when he retuned to the states, years later he received a letter from her which included a picture of herself and a son sitting on her lap. She wrote stating the child was his. By this time, my father was married to my mother and, unfortunately, he didn't follow up on it.
He passed away in 2009 and before his passing he asked me to follow up on this because it was one of his biggest regrets.
I have little information on her and even less on the child. He could only tell me how the mothers name sounded which was Vo Thi Chi Nguyen. I am not sure of the spelling.
My father was a cook and was stationed in Da Nang and Qui Nhon.
I have already contacted Brian Hjort with but that has hit a dead end. Is there a list with names of the immigrants who came to the U.S via the Amerasian Homecoming Act?
Is there another avenue to research?
I appreciate any and all assistance.


Mindy Millwee Nguyen0 answers 13 December 2016 00:01

Dear Josie Jent,
You can do dna test on . Hopefully you can find your sibling form that because a lot of Amerasian are on that system to find their father and roots.
Good luck,
Mindy Millwee Nguyen
PS; I just found my dad and roots from that website.

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