MHRO had two important advocacy trips to Washington, D.C. in 2008: March 27-28th and July 28-30th. MHRO organized and led both delegations with the latter including representatives from the NC Refugee Resettlement Agencies and the NC State Director of Refugee Services. On July 30th, the delegation had several U.S. Congressional meetings that included lengthy discussions with Senior Staff from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and NC Members of Congress. The group also met personally with NC Senator Elizabeth Dole and NC epresentative Brad Miller.
The purpose of the meetings was to advocate for Montagnard refugee protection in Cambodia and Vietnam, to advocate for Montagnard legal emigration in the USCIS/DHS adjudication process, and to urge the U.S. government, in its refugee policy collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR,) to stop forcing Montagnard refugees back to Vietnam where they face imprisonment, torture, house arrest and police surveillance.
In the March meetings, MHRO met with U.S. State Department officials in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM,) the National Security Council/White House personnel, UNHCR, and with the director and staff from the USCIS/DHS Office of International Operations Refugee Division.
On July 30, 2008 during the meetings with State Department officials and U.S. Congressional Members, the delegation presented written concerns and policy recommendations to the U.S. government and to UNHCR. The delegation believes these recommendations can assist in correcting the refugee crisis facing Montagnards who fled to Cambodia from Vietnam. MHRO will continue its intensive advocacy with the U.S. Congress and the State Department in the upcoming months.