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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

Refugees Who Served With US Military Seek Burial in Veterans’ Cemetery

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During the Vietnam War, thousands of Hmong people fought as allies of the United States against the Communist government of Laos.  An estimated 10% of the Hmong population of Laos-about 30,000 people-was killed during the war, and over 100,000 were displaced.  Now, reports that Hmong veterans who have resettled as refugees in the United States are seeking burial in U.S. military cemeteries.  Hmong leader Chue Chou Tchang testified at the Minnesota State House:

We were American soldiers fighting alongside American soldiers....  We fought like brothers.  We died together.  Coming to this country, we'd like to rest with the American soldiers that fought with us.

One way to honor foreign veterans who served with the U.S. military: Name a beer after them.

Because of a United Nations agreement not to commit American troops to Laos in the early 1960s, the CIA launched a covert operation of training and funding Hmong soldiers, first to retrieve the bodies of pilots whose planes had crashed and then to block supplies and attack North Vietnamese and Communist troops.  The Hmong soldiers fought bravely and won the respect of their American comrades.  

The main arguments against burying the Hmong fighters in U.S. military cemeteries are that the cemeteries are exclusively for people who served in the United States Armed Forces (as opposed to allied forces) and that there is limited space.  Based on a quick review of the comments on, it seems many veterans who served during the war believe the Hmong should be granted burial in military cemeteries.

Last year, after Vang Pao, an important Hmong general died, he was refused burial at Arlington National Cemetery.  However, a few months after his death, a U.S. Army Honor Guard participated in a memorial service for the General and other Hmong veterans at Arlington (though the Hmong veterans were not buried there). 

It seems unlikely that the policy on burial will change any time soon, so holding ceremonies like the one for General Vang Pao seems like a respectful way to honor our foreign allies who fought-and sometimes died-with us. 

Given the number of foreigners who served (and continue to serve) with the U.S. military, my guess is that we will see this issue raised again and again in the future.  I have represented a number of people who worked with the U.S. military and who then had to flee their homelands-from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Laos.  The military should develop a consistent policy to deal with such people when it comes to burial and other veterans' benefits.  The model used in the case of General Vang Pao seems like a reasonable way to handle the issue of burial, but it needs to be consistently applied to all our foreign allies.  Like our own veterans, we owe our foreign allies a great debt, and we need to do right for them all.

Originally posted on the Asylumist:

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  1. Roberson's Avatar
    The land of the free, obviously this isn t true. Everyone here in the United States are iiegmratms, this country was founded by someone who was not born here on this land. People who took over and murder the Native Americans, taking over their land as if it were ours, founded this country. I don t understand why immigration is such a big deal, we are countries who always boast about come to the United States it s the land of the free, and you can make a better life for yourself. But yet we are forcing immigrants to leave. I glad business and immigration was brought up in the lecture. Because illegal immigration is all about how it affects our economy. You always here people complain immigrants are taking all of the jobs here in America, then the other argument is they are taking jobs Americans don t want. A lot of the jobs immigrants are taking include construction, carpentry, waste-management and bus boys. I think its dumb for people to say Americans won t take these jobs, because everyone needs work here in the United States. Immigrants just get hired first because their labor will be cheaper compared to an American. Most immigrants charge low labor because they don t have to worry about taxes, Medicare and other expenses coming out of their pay. But Americans have to charge high prices for labor because they have so many expenses coming out of their pay. The unemployment in the United States cannot be necessarily blamed on illegal immigrants, this may sound weird but I think technology is the main reason for why Americans have no jobs not always immigrants. You go to the supermarket, what do you see self-check out and see less and less actual employees. You call a company or a store do you ever talk to a person no. We don t see immigrants substituting Americans for jobs its technology. The stat that was shown during the lecture regarding the percentage of Immigrants whit college degrees was not surprising at all. I feel that immigrants work harder than some Americans because everything isn t handed to them. Immigrants may have this mindset that I have to get my college degree because their back is against the wall. Where Americans think, I was born here I will automatically have more opportunities than anyone else. But that is not necessarily true. I think we, as Americans need to look in the mirror and say what would we do if we were placed in the same situation. Immigrants just want to make a better life for themselves, what do you expect them to when theirs a country who is known for people going from rags to riches.
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