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CONGRESSMAN ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD Delegate from Guam U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.

NEWS RELEASE April 25, 2001


Congressman Robert A. Underwood today announced that officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement will soon arrive in Guam to assist the Chin Christians who fled Myanmar earlier this year. The team may also be providing assistance to those Chinese immigrants seeking political asylum.

"Since March, we have been in discussion with HHS, primarily the people in the Office of Refugee Resettlement," Congressman Underwood said. "We asked that they send out a team to Guam to provide assistance and they've complied with that request."

The team, which will include representatives from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, will arrive in a few days to begin refugee processing, to assist those immigrants who wish to travel on into the United States. The team will also conduct health screening and assist the local church and charity groups who are currently caring for the Myanmar Nationals who began entering Guam earlier this year under the Guam-only Visitor Visa Program. Myanmar has since been removed from the program.

Congressman Underwood said the Secretary of Health and Human Services has the authority under the Immigration and Naturalization Act to order such assistance. In response to Congressman Underwood's formal letter of request for assistance, Secretary Tommy G. Thompson invoked his authority on April 18, notifying all federal agencies that HHS would be making arrangements for the temporary care of the refugees in Guam.

"This invocation of authority will allow the Department of Health and Human Services to provide, among other things, limited medical screening for communicable diseases for approximately 1,150 Burmese and Chinese asylum applicants on Guam awaiting adjudication of their asylum claims, to award emergency grants to provide food and shelter for those individuals, and to arrange transport to mainland U.S. destinations for those applicants who are granted asylum," Secretary Thompson wrote.

For additional information, contact: Cathy Gault at 671-477-4272

Washington office: 2418 Rayburn Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 Tel: 202-225-1188 Fax: 202-226-0341 Email: [email protected] 

Guam office: 120 Fr. Duenas Ave., Ste 107 Hagatna, GU 96932 Tel: 671-477-4272 Fax: 671-477-2587

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