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Berman Urges Change to I-94 Customs Document to Reflect Taiwan as Country of Citizenship, Not China (Taiwan)

Berman to Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano: “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”

Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Howard L. Berman wrote U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, asking that I-94 documents issued by Customs and Border Protection to Taiwanese citizens entering the United States list their country of citizenship as Taiwan, rather than China (Taiwan).

In the letter to Secretary Napolitano, Rep. Berman writes: “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.

Last month, 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.

The Berman letter follows:

The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretary Napolitano,

I am writing to express my concern regarding the characterization of Taiwan on the I-94 nonimmigrant arrival-departure form and in the Global Entry Program.

It has recently come to my attention that when Taiwanese citizens enter the United States, the I-94 documents they are issued by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) lists their country of citizenship as “China (Taiwan).” Similarly, in the application process for CBP’s Global Entry Program, the CBP system refers to Taiwan as “Taiwan, Province of China.”

It has been a long-standing U.S. policy that the U.S. government refers to Taiwan as “Taiwan.” This designation is employed by the Department of State, the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. I would respectfully request that the Department of Homeland Security, and all of its constituent agencies, adopt the same terminology.

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. I appreciate your timely consideration of this matter and for your prompt efforts to correct this error.

Sincerely,

HOWARD L. BERMAN
Ranking Member

CC: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton


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