Meng Introduces Legislation to Help Korean American Families Reunite with Family Members in North Korea
Mar 14, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced legislation that would require the U.S. Secretary of State and the U.S. Special Envoy on North Korea Human Rights Issues to prioritize helping divided Korean American families reunite with family members in North Korea.
Meng’s bill, the Divided Families Reunification Act, would require the U.S. Secretary of State—or a designee of the Secretary—to consult with South Korean officials on potential family reunion opportunities for American families and their relatives in North Korea. It would also require the U.S. Special Envoy on North Korea Human Rights Issues to consult bi-annually with representatives of Americans with family members in North Korea about its efforts to support family reunions, and to report to Congress on opportunities to utilize video conference technology to encourage virtual reunions.
Approximately 100,000 Korean Americans have been separated from their relatives in North Korea since the Korean War. Since 2000, South Korea and North Korea have held over 20 family reunions; however, there has not been an official channel for Korean Americans to be included.
“There are so many American families who desperately want to reunite with their loved ones in North Korea and my bill would go a long way towards making that happen,” said Meng. “These families have tragically been separated since the Korean War and that separation has been long and painful. These families deserve to see their loved ones again. Americans who have relatives in North Korea are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. Time is not on their side which is why we must immediately pass my bill to provide much needed relief for these divided families.”
Meng has sent two letters to President Trump—one in October of last year and in February—urging him to prioritize helping divided Korean American families reunite with their families in North Korea. The Congresswoman has not received a response from the President.
Original cosponsors of Meng’s legislation are: Reps. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation; Karen Bass (D-CA); Barbara Lee (D-CA); James P. McGovern (D-MA); Eleanor Homes Norton (D-DC); Gil Cisneros (D-CA); Rob Woodall (R-GA); and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).
Organizations supporting the bill include: Divided Families USA; Korean Americans in Action; Korean American Grassroots Conference; and the Korean American Association of Greater New York.
A copy of the legislation can be viewed here.