During the Vietnam War years from 1962-1975, it has been estimated that U.S. military personnel fathered 30-40 thousand children with native women in the countries of Southeast Asia, primarily in Vietnam, but also in Thailand and the Philippines. These biracial children were known as “dust children” or “bui do” because of their mixed-blood. They were ostracized and subjected to severe discrimination in their home country. Many grew up as orphans, abandoned by both parents. In addition, the mothers were considered “prostitutes” by the Vietnamese and punished for their relationships with Americans. Although our focus is on the Amerasians of Vietnam, this phenomenon is true of all American conflicts in Asia, chiefly the Korean War and WW II.
Current law provides for the Amerasians of Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Kampuchea (Cambodia) and Thailand.
Children fathered in Asia, by American Servicemen
Amerasian is not a synonym for Asian-American or Eurasian, but refers to those children fathered in Asia, by American servicemen. There is no specific racial or ethnic definition of Amerasian other than that one parent, (the biological mother), is an ethnic Asian. By contrast, the term Asian-American refers to a person whose parents are both ethnic Asians, but who is an American citizen, either by birth or naturalization.
In 1982, Congress passed the Amerasian Immigration Act to allow Amerasian children from Vietnam, Korea, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand (without their mothers or their siblings), to emigrate to the United States to live with American sponsor families. Lacking either a diplomatic presence in Vietnam or the cooperation of the Vietnamese government, the legislation failed to help the Amerasians of Vietnam.
To correct this oversight, in 1987 Congress passed the Amerasian Homecoming Act benefitting primarily, Vietnamese Amerasian children. This law created an Amerasian Program and allowed for visits of U.S. diplomatic personnel to Vietnam to interview Amerasians with a relationship to a U.S. serviceman. To preserve family unity, the law also permitted mothers and immediate family to relocate to America with the Amerasian. The law also allowed Amerasians, without specific knowledge of paternity, to establish mixed race identity, solely based upon appearance. Between 1987 and 1994, roughly 25,000 Vietnamese Amerasians, by then 12-25 years old, and another 60,000 to 70,000 family members emigrated to the United States.
The USCIS Form I-360 (Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant) is used to bring to the United States an Amerasian who was fathered by a U.S. citizen and who was born in Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Kampuchea (Cambodia) or Thailand after December 31, 1950 and before October 22, 1982. Evidence that the Amerasian beneficiary was fathered by a United States citizen must be presented. In the case of a Vietnamese Amerasian, the Amerasian’s ID card must be provided. The putative father must have been a U.S. citizen at the time of the Amerasian’s birth or at the time of the father’s death, if his death occurred prior to the Amerasian’s birth. It is not required that the name of the father be given. The successful petition will enable an Amerasian to be admitted as a lawful permanent resident.
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