Vice Squad
Monday, April 19, 2004
Drug Testing Refugees

They came from Laos and fought for the US in the Vietnam war. Then, the US pulled out, and they could not safely return to Laos. So, thousands of the ethnic Hmong fled to Thailand, where, almost three decades later, they still live in a refugee camp. Now the US has offered any of them who are interested a new life, and citizenship, in America.

Well, almost any of them: "Drug users and criminals are ineligible."

So the Chicago Tribune (registration required) reports today. The article provides no more details of the drug user exclusion -- what drugs get one excluded, for instance? -- though it does mention that urine samples were taken.

An American who was instrumental in seeing to the citizenship offer is quoted in the Trib article as follows: "They fought with us, and they paid the highest price. . . . If the Hmong were good enough to fight and die for us, they have to be good enough to resettle." Unless they smoke a little weed, perhaps.

Incidentally, the Hmong refugees also practice polygamy, though the article suggests that they try to disguise it a bit as they recognize that Americans are uncomfortable with multiple wives (at least holding multiple wives simultaneously). They better not get caught masking a drug test, though!

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