Homeland Security Department Agrees to Berman Request Changing I-94 Customs Document Reflecting Taiwan as Country of Citizenship, Not China (Taiwan)

Press Release

By:  Howard Berman
Date: July 20, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Howard L. Berman, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomed the decision by the Department of Homeland Security allowing Taiwanese citizens entering the United States to list Taiwan as their country of citizenship rather than China (Taiwan) on their Form I-94 and in the Global Entry Program.

Rep. Berman (D-CA) thanked Secretary Napolitano, her staff, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their dedicated effort on this issue, and for recognizing that a correction needed to be made.

"This is about fairness and today is a victory for the entire Taiwanese community," said Berman. "It is an indignity to force Taiwanese citizens to list anything other than Taiwan on their U.S. entry documents, and together we righted this unfortunate wrong."

On June 19, Berman wrote U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and asked: "It has been a long-standing U.S. policy that the U.S. government refers to Taiwan as "Taiwan'… Many Taiwanese citizens travel across our borders every day. These individuals should not be required to sign their name under an inaccurate statement in an official government document."

A longtime champion on this issue, Rep. Berman passed legislation allowing Taiwanese-Americans to have "Taiwan" recorded as their birthplace on their American passports. Berman authored H.R. 5034 along with then Rep. Olympia Snow (R-ME) in September 1994 providing the U.S. Secretary of State the authority to write Taiwan as the place of birth in a passport when requested by the applicant who was born there. The bill passed and was signed into law. Until then, "China" had been listed as the birthplace for Taiwanese Americans.

In May, Rep. Berman wrote to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen requesting that the California state government change its online voter registration system to allow Taiwanese-Americans to list "Taiwan" as their country of birth, rather than "Taiwan, Province of China." Less than a week after Rep. Berman sent the letter, the California state government changed its online voter registration system.

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