NO WORDS EXIST to justify the shameful treatment this country meets out to Amerasian children, those abandoned offspring of American (mostly GI) fathers and Oriental mothers. But Reagan's bureaucrats, following in the footsteps of Carter's, continue the search.
They came up with their alibis at a hearing on a bill offered by Rep. Stewart McKinney (D-Conn.), who wishes to give preferential immigration treatment to "certain children of U.S. Armed Forces Personnel."
They had gone to some trouble. On one hand, they pointed out, as Reaganites are wont to do when examining human programs, the danger of "abuse and fraud" in the notion.
"You mean," jeered Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), "that you are afraid some half-australian kid will sneak in?"
They also offered a technological exit -- a miraculous new blood test at the Communicable Disease Centers, which is so fancy it can pinpoint the home state of the father. Although variously called "a breakthrough" and "still in the laboratory stage," it was meant to be light at the end of the tunnel for the outcast children, who in Vietnam are called "the dust of life."
"And what do you propose to do in the meantime?" asked Frank; a freshman and graduate of the Massachusetts state legislature, where drawing blood from bloodless bureaucrats is an entirely acceptable practice.
One State Department representative, Assistant Secretary Diego Asencio (hero of a hostage crisis in Colombia), had the grace to be embarassed as he proffered his rationalization -- "that it would tend to increase our illegal alien population." He admitted that the children lead wretched lives, scorned, abused and often stoned for their freckles, their blue eyes and their tell-tale height.
The United States flatly refuses to recognize their existence. If they wish to come to their father's land, they must apply under sixth preference (skilled and unskilled workers in short supply). Since they are cut off from schools, housing and public assistance of any kind, their chances of qualifying are virtually nonexistent.
But State's other man, Cornelius D. Scully, tried valiantly to "win one for the Gipper" and protect our shores from a wave of "fraudulent" children. He pressed on the members the marvels of the blood test.
"Will it establish if the father was a serviceman?" asked Frank, who was reproved for his vehemence by subcommittee chairman Romano Mazzoli.
But Frank was unrepentant. He kept asking the increasingly uneasy bureaucrats if they had an alternative. They mumbled. He asked them how much the miraculous blood test costs. They didn't know.
He asked them if they knew how the blood test program would survive the budget knife poised at the throat of the Communicable Disease Centers. They had not a clue.
Nobody knows for sure how many of these abandoned children have been left behind as souvenirs of American foreign policy. In Vietnam, where they are officially designated "bad elements," there may be as many as 25,000. In all -- Korea, Thailand and Laos are included in McKinney's bill -- there may be 80,000.
The bureaucrats, thankful to be free of Frank's fangs, took off, thereby missing the testimony of the victims and heroes of their nonpolicy: John Slade of the Pearl Buck Foundation, the Rev. Alfred Keane, director of St. Vincent's Home for Amerasians in Seoul, and two Amerasians, who tearfully pleaded for "those we left behind."
John F. (Cho Jae Juyn), a six-foot, slender boy with Oriental features, "thinks" he is 15. He was shaking and sighing as he read through the autobiography he had prepared himself. He does not know his father's name. His mother is Korean. She abandoned him. He had a picture of himself with his parents, but he tore it up -- "it make me cry too much." He went to an orphanage, "where Americans come to pick up children, but never me." He ran away. For years, he scratched a living on the streets of Seoul, kicked, cuffed and beaten, sleeping by night in movie theaters.
Father Keane, a person of seemingly unquenchable good will, pleaded for "our forgotten children" -- whose numbers are increasing, since commanders of our troops currently in Korea "mostly worry about the VD rate."
And the good father told the story that shames us most as a nation. He told how the French, who never give themselves humanitarian airs, who in fact pride themselves on their pinched practicality as a nation, treated the children their soldiers fathered in Indo-china.
When they left in 1954, they took 25,000 children with them. The government paid for the schooling of those who stayed behind. When they turned 21, they had the option of French citizenship.
Frank said the last word: "France wasn't worried at all that some half-French, half-English child might slip in. We were in Asia for our own purposes. Therefore, it is our obligation to bring our kids home."