"I do not want to remember life in Korea. It was hard and bad. I like the life in the United States. Here no one teases or ridicules me."
"My father lived with my mother and me until I was 6 years old, and then he returned to the United States. . . . My life in Korea was difficult. . . . The other children called me Nigger."
"After my father left, my mother wrote letters to him for a while. However he already had a family in America"
"My mother is Korean, and my father was an American naval lieutenant. My father died a short time (after I was born)."
They aren't the pitiful waifs of the CARE posters. They are young men and women in their twenties, students at Gonzaga University in Spokane. They are writing in support of a bill that would, by recognizing them as Americans, make it possible for them to emigrate permanently to the United States. As it is now, they must leave this country as soon as they have finished college.
Their letters are full of accounts of discrimination of the most heart-rending sort: name-calling, denial of opportunities for work or schooling; non-recognition as citizens of the land where they were born --all because they are not "pure."
These particular young people were born in Korea, generally recognized as the worst with regard to its treatment of the Amerasians, nearly all of them the result of unions between Asian women and American GIs. But it isn't much better for their counterparts in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Taiwan or the Philippines. In a large number of cases, their parents lived together as husband and wife, often for several years. But the fathers returned to the States, or died, or otherwise abandoned them to a life of nobodiness.
Legislation introduced by Sen. Jeremiah Denton (R-Ala.), a former POW in Vietnam, and Rep. Stewart McKinney (R-Conn.), who has seen the plight of Amerasians firsthand during his travels in the Orient, would let them become Americans in fact as well as in parentage. It would require only that the prospective immigrants have U.S. sponsors who would guarantee their support at no less than 125 percent of the official poverty level.
The legislation is in trouble--not because of opposition but because of time. The paper work and the legislative footwork have been completed. Both the House and the Senate have held hearings. The administration is an active supporter of the bills, and McKinney has enlisted 260 co-sponsors.
The ducks may be all in a row, but getting the legislation enacted is hardly duck soup.
"The fear," says one Hill staffer, "is that the legislation will get lost in the shuffle of the next couple of months. Due to the shortened weeks, and so forth, there are only 32 more active legislative days (days when there will be votes on the House floor) left before the Oct. 8 recess for elections."
Even without substantial opposition, it will be tough to get the legislation to a vote before a Congress that still has on the docket 13 appropriation bills, the reconciliation process (including $20 billion in tax increases and $6.6 billion in spending cuts), the Clean Air Act, regulatory reform, a renewal of the bankruptcy law, the Defense Industrialization Act and Lord knows what other legislative odds and ends.
And unless the proposal is enacted this term, the whole process has to begin all over again. That will mean that some of the Gonzaga students will have to return to Korea. It will mean at least another year of degradation for upwards of 30,000 Amerasians still in Asia, and it might well mean a lifetime of ridicule, low-paying jobs and vilification in a land that doesn't want them--that won't even let them into the military.
The proposed legislation is simple; it does not increase the quota of immigrants; it will cost the American taxpayer nothing, and it ought to pass.
As one of the Gonzaga students put it, "I am not asking for any money from the U.S. government. I am simply asking to come to the land of my father."