An Open Letter to the US Consulate:
Dear Sir or Madame,
My name is Tô Quốc Việt and I was born in Biên Hòa in 1970 where I lived until I was 2 years old before moving to Cà Mau. Tô Thị Cúc who claimed to be my mother raised me but she passed away in 1988. My aunt, Tô Thị Hường, subsequently raised me along with my Amerasian cousin, Tô Thị Diễm Trang. In the summer of 1991, we went to the US Consulate to apply for a US immigrant visa under the Amerasian Homecoming Act program. However, due to reasons that were not properly explained to me, my aunt and her daughter (my cousin) passed the interview while my own application was rejected. This came as a surprise and shock. I believe that my aunt and cousin currently live in Aurora, Colorado, USA.
Dejected, I left my aunt’s family and ended up in Sóc Trăng working as a carpenter and eventually meeting my wife, Phương Tố Thanh, who Vietnamese. Discrimination was rife and I wasn’t able to get salaried work. No one would hire me because I was Amerasian.
In 2000 I moved to Ho Chi Minh City and looked for work there. It was then that I was coerced into making a fraudulent visa applicant with a wealthy Vietnamese family with promise of financial ‘rewards’. Being poor and working odd jobs, the money was tempting and I agreed. However, the financial arrangement fell through when the application was rejected and I was listed as having made a fraudulent application. Along with the application was the photo of my biological American father with the written address, which was never returned to me by the Consulate. I very much regret this moment of transgression.
I currently still live in Ho Chi Minh City with my wife and two young children. I own my own property and have a steady source of income from construction work. Unfortunately, the fact that I was an Amerasian meant that my wife’s family never accepted me and we never had a wedding ceremony despite the fact that our marriage was legalized within the court of law in Vietnam.
Just some days ago, I had a most shocking revelation: my aunt, Tô Thị Hường, called from the United States and told me that my birth mother, Tô Thị Huệ (her sister and whom I’ve always known to be my aunt), is still very much alive and lives in Cà Mau! My mother finally called and we had a long, long talk and she was able to tell me more about my American father, SP4 James T Russell. This information is all very new to me and I’m reeling from its revelation. It turned out that my mother worked as a secretary for Company D and E of 218th (information regarding the exact unit) at the Long Binh Post and that where she subsequently met my father SP4 Russell who was attached to Company C of 218th (again no information but from the same battalion of Company D and E). My father left Vietnam around April or May of 1970 when my mother was 2 months pregnant with me and after my birth a photo of my mother and me was sent to him. I was told that James Russell tried to persuade my aunt, before the fall of Saigon, to send me to the United States but she refused to give me up.
I hope that the Officer in charge of the Amerasian Resettlement Program would take another look at my case and seriously reconsider my application so that we may relocate to the US to try and locate my biological father as it is our wish to reconnect him with me, my wife and our children. At the same time we also wish to let our children live a life free from discrimination as our unmistakable Amerasian physical features and background has been a cause for much hardship, discrimination and ridicule. This request is not about seeking a better life under the guise of being Amerasian but instead, it’s about my lost family, our dream of having a place we can truly call home, my psychological healings from years of discriminations and an honest hope for unification.
I thank you for taking the time to look at our application and we really appreciate the effort put in by the US Consulate in trying to repatriate Amerasians from Vietnam to the United States. To bring them home.
Tô Quốc Việt