IT’S ALL IN A LETTER: Requesting visa approval for NBC reporter to travel to Hanoi in 1979

Authored by Whitney Karen Brown

Elizabeth Holtzman, letter to Vietnamese Ambassador to Thailand Hoang Bao Son, 28 Feb. 1979, box 35, Garner J. Cline Papers, Center for Migration Studies, (New York, NY.).

In February of 1979, Elizabeth Holtzman, Chairwoman for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and International Law wrote a letter to the Vietnamese Ambassador to Thailand, His Excellency Hoang Bao Son, regarding the quick approval for visas for James Upshaw, an NBC reporter, and his television crew, to travel with her to Hanoi.[1] The letter is part of a collection called the Garner J. Cline Papers, which currently resides in the Center for Migration Studies in New York.[2] The Garner J. Cline Papers consists of fifty-one boxes containing the personal papers of Garner J. Cline, who, at the time the letter was written, was Staff Director for the Committee on the Judiciary in the House of Representatives.[3]

In 1979 the world was in turmoil over the events of the Vietnam War and many countries in Southeast Asia were still dealing with its after effects, which included the displacement of many of its people. Hostilities increased between one-time allies China and Vietnam, and “Vietnam’s attitude toward its own Chinese minority grew hostile in 1977-78 and caused an exodus of tens of thousands of ethnic Chinese ”boat people” to China and other havens.”[4] In early 1979, newly appointed Chairwoman for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and International Law,[5] Elizabeth Holtzman, traveled to Southeast Asia on several occasions to see what could be done to assist these refugees.[6] As stated in the letter penned by Chairwoman Holtzman, NBC reporter James Upshaw and his crew were denied visas to travel with her as part of her delegation, one can assume, to document and report on the plight of the refugees and Chairwoman Holtzman’s mission to help them.

Looking at Chairwoman Holtzman’s letter in the context of the Hidden Heritage Collection as a whole, one can say that the letter sheds light on a larger story that involves a number of individuals, including Elizabeth Holtzman and James Upshaw, who worked to fight for and uphold values that parallel the Vincentian Mission of St. John’s University to “embrace the Judeo-Christian ideals of respect for the rights and dignity of every person and each individual’s responsibility for the world in which we live.”[7]

 

[1] Elizabeth Holtzman, letter to Vietnamese Ambassador to Thailand Hoang Bao Son, 28 Feb. 1979, box 35, Garner J. Cline Papers, Center for Migration Studies, (New York, NY.).

[2] Garner J. Cline Papers, Center for Migration Studies, (New York, NY.).

[3] U.S. Congress, United States Code and Congressional News, (MINN: West Publishing Company, 1979), I: CXVIII.

[4] Colin Campbell, “PEKING-HANOI INTERESTS SPLIT AFTER VIETNAM WAR,” The New York Times, July 14, 1984, http://www.nytimes.com/1984/07/14/world/peking-hanoi-interests-split-after-vietnam-war.html (Accessed March 13, 2017).

[5] Matthew Andrew Wasniewski, ed. Women in Congress, 1917 – 2006. (Washington: US Gov. Print. Off., 2006), 482.

[6] Elizabeth Holtzman, “How to Help Burma’s ‘Boat People.’” Time, 6–5, 2015, http://time.com/3908367/burmas-boat-people/ (Accessed March 13, 2017).

[7] St. John’s University, “Our Mission”, About, St. John’s University, http://www.stjohns.edu/about/our-mission (Accessed March 12, 2017).

         Resources

Campbell, Colin. “PEKING-HANOI INTERESTS SPLIT AFTER VIETNAM WAR.” The New York Times, July 14, 1984. Accessed March 12, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/1984/07/14/world/peking-hanoi-interests-split-after-vietnam-war.html.

Nguyen Minh Quang. “The Bitter Legacy of the 1979 China-Vietnam War.” The Diplomat. Accessed March 12, 2017. http://thediplomat.com/2017/02/the-bitter-legacy-of-the-1979-china-vietnam-war/.

Garner J. Cline Papers. Center for Migration Studies. New York, NY.

Holtzman, Elizabeth. Letter to Vietnamese Ambassador to Thailand Hoang Bao Son. 28 Feb. 1979. Box 35. Garner J. Cline Papers. Center for Migration Studies. New York, NY.

Holtzman, Elizabeth. “How to Help Burma’s ‘Boat People.’” Time, 6–5, 2015. Accessed March 12, 2017. http://time.com/3908367/burmas-boat-people/.

St. John’s University. “Our Mission | St. John’s University.” Accessed March 12, 2017. http://www.stjohns.edu/about/our-mission.

United States. Congress. House. Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees. Refugee Act of 1979 : Hearings before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and International Law of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, Ninety-Sixth Congress, First Session, on H.R. 2816 .. 10. Washington : U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1979. Accessed March 12, 2017. http://archive.org/details/refugeeactof197900unit.

Wasniewski, Matthew Andrew, ed. Women in Congress, 1917 – 2006. Washington: US Gov. Print. Off., 2006.

 

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