The long involvement of the United States in Vietnam, justified as preventing its fall to communism, consumed enormous resources financially, in military personnel and armaments, while fostering great distrust of the federal government and conflict regarding U.S. imperialism abroad. The loss of this war, despite many collaborations between Americans and Vietnamese, resulted in a tremendous sense of responsibility to provide refuge for over a million Vietnamese, and their neighboring Cambodians, Laotians, and Hmong, with communist victories and the establishing of communist governments starting in 1975. The United States made provisions to admit about 135,000 Vietnamese and other Southeast Asians in the months following the fall of Saigon, resettle them across the United States with some resources to help them establish new lives. The standards for assistance were based on that provided for Cuban refugees from communism in the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act. In 1978, a new round of persecutions forced hundreds of thousands more to flee by boats and overland but these later refugee waves took longer to find new homes.
To enable the United States to render assistance to, or in behalf of, certain migrants and refugees.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this Act may be cited as “The Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1975”.
SEC. 2. (a) Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) there are hereby authorized to be appropriated, in addition to amounts otherwise available for such purposes, $155,000,000 for the performance of functions set forth in the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962 (76 Stat. 121), as amended, with respect to aliens who have fled from Cambodia or Vietnam, such sums to remain available in accordance with the provisions of subsection (b) of this section.
(b) None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act shall be available for the performance of functions after June 30,1976, other than for carrying out the provisions of clauses (3), (4), (5), and (6) of section 2(b) of the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962, as amended. None of such funds shall be available for obligation for any purpose after September 30, 1977.
SEC. 3. In carrying out functions utilizing the funds made available under this Act, the term “refugee” as defined in section 2(b) (3) of the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962, as amended, shall be deemed to include aliens who (A) because of persecution or fear of persecution on account of race, religion, or political opinion, fled from Cambodia or Vietnam; (B) cannot return there because of fear of persecution on account of race, religion, or political opinion; and (C) are in urgent need of assistance for the essentials of life.
SEC. 4. (a) The President shall consult with and keep the Committees on the Judiciary, Appropriations, and International Relations of the House of Representatives and the Committees on Foreign Relations, Appropriations and Judiciary of the Senate fully and currently informed of the use of funds and the exercise of functions authorized in this Act.
(b) Not more than thirty days after the date of enactment of this Act, the President shall transmit to such Committees a report describing fully and completely the status of refugees from Cambodia and South Vietnam. Such report shall set forth, in addition—
(1) a plan for the resettlement of those refugees remaining in receiving or staging centers;
(2) the number of refugees who have indicated an interest in returning to their homeland or being resettled in a third country, together with (A) a description of the plan for their return or resettlement and the steps taken to carry out such return or resettlement, and (B) any initiatives that have been made with respect to the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees of the United Nations; and
(3) a full and complete description of the steps the President has taken to retrieve and deposit in the Treasury as miscellaneous receipts all amounts previously authorized and appropriated for assistance to South Vietnam and Cambodia but not expended for such purpose, exclusive of the $98,000,000 of Indochina Postwar Reconstruction funds allocated to the Department of State for movement and maintenance of refugees prior to the date of enactment of this Act.
(c) Supplementary reports setting forth recent information with respect to each of the items referred to in this section shall be transmitted not more than ninety days after the date of transmittal of the report referred to in subsection (b) of this section and not later than the end of each ninety-day period thereafter. Such reports shall continue until September 30, 1977, and a final report shall be submitted no later than December 31, 1977.
Approved May 23, 1975.
Background Information from F. Odo:
The ill-fated war in Southeast Asia officially ended with the retreat of the United States in 1975. With this withdrawal, however, came immense responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians we had recruited in the war against communism. Indeed, many of them paid a fearful price when South Vietnam fell and American protection disappeared. In partial recompense, the United States began a refugee program to admit some of the populations displaced. One of the first significant acts of Congress to acknowledge this responsibility came the year the United States left. The actual policy of dispersing Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees into all states except Alaska was a disaster, however, and subsequent legislation such as the Refugee Act of 1980 attempted to improve the situation. In the decade after this act, more than 750,000 refugees entered the country from Southeast Asia. Their communities have become among the largest and most complex of Asian Americans in the nation, especially with regard to extreme gaps in status, education, and wealth (p 407).