Thu, May 14, 2009 - Page 1 News List

US gave me green card in error: Yuan

THE CARD’S IN THE MAIL Taiwan’s US envoy said he applied for a green card years ago, but asked to stop the process. He said he was stunned to receive the card in February

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan’s representative to the US Jason Yuan (袁健生) said on Tuesday that a US green card issued to him in February was the result of administrative errors by the US authorities and that the card was returned and annulled last month.

Yuan’s statement followed media reports that he was granted permanent residency in the US after being sworn in for his current position.

The Nationality Act (國籍法) stipulates that government officials are prohibited from holding foreign permanent residency or citizenship.

Chinese-language Next Magazine reported in its latest edition that the representative received a green card three months ago. The card was not invalidated and destroyed until last month, the magazine said.

The report said Yuan applied for permanent residency in April 2004 when he was the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) representative to the US. In the past, Yuan has said that he had applied for a green card so he could work legally in the US.

The report said Yuan was appointed to his current post on Aug. 4 last year. On Aug. 26, the US government notified Yuan that it had approved his application, but did not mail him the green card until February.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Yuan admitted applying for a green card in 2004. But when the KMT won the election last May, he told the US government that if he were to return to serve as a Taiwanese official, he would need to terminate his application process, he said.

He said he instructed his lawyer to contact the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to make the termination official in June last year.

He said he was stunned when he received a notice from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services in September telling him his application had been approved. He said that, through his lawyer, Yuan confirmed with the US once again his intention to drop his application.

The representative said he was stunned once more when he ­received his green card in the mail in February, after which he immediately asked his lawyer to contact US immigration about the “mistake.”

Yuan said that on April 3 his lawyer met with a US immigration official in the Baltimore office where the US official admitted to the blunder, destroyed the card on the spot and signed a document confirming Yuan had officially relinquished his permanent resident status.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Ou (歐鴻鍊) said yesterday that the situation resulted from an administrative error.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) was fully informed of the issue, Ou said.

“Yuan has released a public statement which clearly states that he has never obtained US permanent residency. On his own initiative, he requested his application process be terminated last June when he was appointed as Taiwan’s representative to the US,” said deputy foreign minister David Lin (林永樂) at the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee.

Lin added that MOFA “would never lie to cover for any of its people.”

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) questioned the validity of Yuan’s claims and cast doubt on his loyalty to Taiwan.

Last August, DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) published Yuan’s green card application number as “evidence” of his intention to become an American.

LEGAL ACTION

Yuan threatened to sue Kuan for invasion of privacy. However, he has yet to take legal action against her.

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