House Passes Meng Legislation to Reunify Korean Americans with Family Members in North Korea
Jul 19, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, announced tonight that the U.S. House of Representatives passed her Divided Families Reunification Act (H.R. 826), a bipartisan bill that seeks to help Korean American families reunite with their loved ones in North Korea.
The measure, which Meng reintroduced in February with Rep. Van Taylor (R-TX), passed unanimously this evening by a vote of 415-0, and now heads to the U.S. Senate.
Since the Korean War, thousands of Korean Americans have been separated from their relatives in North Korea. Through the years, South Korea and North Korea have held some family reunions. But for Korean Americans, there is no pathway for such reunions, as they have not been permitted to participate.
“The pain that Korean Americans continue to endure over not seeing their loved ones for decades is truly heartbreaking and tragic,” said Meng. “We must do all we can to help facilitate these reunions, and to make them happen as soon as possible since many of these family members are in their 70s, 80s and 90s. I remain committed to doing all I can to reunify Korean American families, and I will continue to push my Divided Families Reunification Act until it becomes law. I urge the Senate to now follow suit, and pass this critical legislation.”
Meng’s bill urges the U.S. Secretary of State to consult with South Korean officials on potential opportunities to reunite Korean Americans with family members in North Korea, including by video. It also encourages the Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues to work with the Korean American community to identify those same opportunities.
The House had unanimously passed Meng’s Divided Families Reunification Act during the last session of Congress in March of 2020, but the measure was not taken up by the Senate.
A copy of the Congresswoman’s legislation can be viewed here.
Last month, Meng spoke with Secretary of State Blinken about reunifying Korean American families with their loved ones in North Korea, and she secured a commitment from him to address the issue.