Refugee Program:

The Orderly Departure Program From Vietnam

NSIAD-90-137: Published: Apr 11, 1990. Publicly Released: May 15, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) practices and procedures for adjudicating Vietnamese refugee applicants' cases, focusing on: (1) the reasons for the apparently low applicant approval rates; (2) the quality and consistency of the adjudication process; (3) whether denied refugee applicants' files adequately reflected the bases for the INS examiners' decisions; and (4) whether INS examiners interviewed Vietnamese of special interest to the United States.

GAO found that: (1) INS approval rates for Vietnamese refugee applicants dropped from 100 percent from October 1988 through January 1989 to an average of about 36 percent from February 1989 through July 1989, due to an Attorney General decision limiting status to those applicants who asserted credible fear of persecution; (2) the Attorney General's decision did not result in fewer Vietnamese being offered entry into the United States; (3) INS offered most of the denied applicants entry into the United States as public interest parolees; (4) the INS adjudication process in Vietnam was generally thorough and consistent, and performed by experienced and well trained personnel; (5) INS documented reasons for denied refugee status in 87 percent of cases; and (6) a July 1989 agreement between the U.S. and Vietnamese governments allowed INS examiners to interview Vietnamese of special concern to the United States, resulting in 4,830 such interviews between October 1989 and January 1990.

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