For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
BUSH ADMINISTRATION REVISES I.N.S. POLICY ON REQUIRING REGISTRATION OF ARMENIAN NATIONALS IN THE UNITED STATES
Grassroots Campaign Generates Over 10,000 ANCA WebFaxes in 24 Hours
WASHINGTON, DC – The White House today reversed a controversial Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) proposal, published as an official government document this morning in the Federal Register, to include Armenia on a list of countries whose non- immigrant male nationals over the age of 16 would be required to register and report their movements to the INS, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The Bush Administration’s action follows extensive discussions over the weekend between Congressional friends of Armenia, Administration officials, the Armenian Government, and Armenian American community leaders, as well as a broad-based grassroots campaign initiated by the ANCA to alert President Bush to the gravity of the Armenian American community’s concerns on this matter. Since news of this development first broke on the evening of Friday, December 13, the Armenian Government has been in constant contact with the U.S. Administration.
Within the first 24 hours of issuing an action alert, over 10,000 ANCA WebFaxes were sent to the President expressing the Armenian American community’s profound opposition to this action. The ANCA, along with a broad-based coalition of Armenian American groups, worked to resolve this issue with senior Administration officials, Armenian Americans with close ties to the White House, the Congressional Armenian Caucus, and key foreign policy figures.
“While we remain deeply troubled by the item appearing today in the Federal Register, we are gratified that this issue was brought to the attention of senior Administration officials and in the end reason prevailed. We expect that today’s decision will be immediately reflected in the Federal Register,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “The Administration has made clear – time and again – that it appreciates Armenia’s role as a strong partner in the war on terrorism and has gone on record several times praising the Armenian people for their cooperation in this vital undertaking. This point was underscored to us over the past several days by Administration officials who assured us that this situation needed to be rectified because it ran counter to the spirit of U.S.-Armenia relations.”
“Our community, proud of the enduring ties between the American and Armenian peoples, responded quickly and powerfully on this issue, generating a series of high-level contacts into the Administration and, at the grassroots level, producing over 10,000 ANCA WebFaxes – from all 50 states – into the White House in just a day,” added Hamparian.
Armenia was one of the first countries to join with the United States in the global war on terrorism. Recognizing this fact, President Bush, in April of this year, made a point of underlining the American people’s appreciation of this cooperation and the enduring partnership between the American and Armenian peoples.
Commenting today in Yerevan, NATO European Commander, General John Ralston said that he is well aware of the support Armenia has shown in the U.S. war on terror. He claimed, however, to not be aware of such decisions to include Armenia on the list of nations whose nationals are required to register with the INS in the U.S. “I understand the concerns of the Armenian citizens in this matter and I will immediately inform the US State Department of these concerns,” stated the General.
The Fresno Bee, reporting on the ANCA’s grassroots campaign, described its “Internet-based lobbying effort, which in just one day bounced some 10,000 protest faxes to the White House, of which an estimated 60 percent came from California. The organization has also been mobilizing calls to both the White House and the 100-plus members of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues.” The paper quoted ANCA’s Hamparian as saying that, “The one thing that struck me about this was the speed with which the Armenian community responded. We’ve never gotten a 24-hour response like this.”