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Keizer Times Reports Struggle for visa for Akha family

The Keizer Times has reported our struggle to get a US visa for our family members. Meanwhile we reside in Laos.
Meals here are not taken for granted.
Meals here are not taken for granted.
The Keizer Times has commented once again on our situation in Laos and our failure to obtain a US visa for my wife on the basis that we didn't have enough documentation for the marriage, dispite the fact that we have four children with US passports.

We know specifically that the US Govt. has singled us out, because in Feb. 2005 a person at USCIS said that the visa was tagged "for security reasons" for special treatment. Seven months later they still hadn't accepted the visa application. We have since reapplied, but have not received a receipt for the new visa application and have no idea how long that one will be delayed. Unless the US Govt is trying to cover up their little known Drug War in SE Asia, why would they have any reason to tag an Akha woman's visa "for Security reasons"?

Churches in Salem such as Bethany Baptist, Faith Baptist and Salem Alliance support missionaries engaged in the destruction of Akha culture, such as OMF's Jim Morris, Lori Crouch from Salem Alliance, or the removal of Akha children from their villages to "orphanages". In many cases the church members have no idea that they are even donating to such causes.

In the case of Lori and her husband Paul, they located in a village in Chiangrai, Thailand. They tell how they are "trying to learn about the culture" but mysteriously the cultural traditions of the vilage were all eliminated three months later. Villagers said in a video interview that they would be hit if they talked about it.

Audio for an interview where an Akha man tells how the missions did all they could to destroy his culture and identity, ethnocide, is available at:
 http://www.akha.org/article607.html


The Keizer Times Story:
 http://www.keizertimes.com/news/story.cfm?story_no=6763

Keizer man fights to bring his family to U.S. from Thailand

Published: December 22, 2005

McDaniel's family enjoys a meal at their temporary home in Laos.
Photos submitted by Matthew McDaniel
By SCOTTA CALLISTER

Of the Keizertimes

A Keizer man who advocates for tribal people in Southeast Asia is still trying to get permission for his wife and children to come to the United States.

Matthew McDaniel said the process currently has been stymied because U.S. officials refuse to recognize his marriage to a woman from an Akha hill tribe in Thailand.

He and his wife have four children who have U.S. passports, but his wife has been unable to get a visa to come to America.

McDaniel was deported from Thailand last April, a move he says was ordered by authorities unhappy with his activism on behalf of the Akha.

McDaniel contends that the U.S. drug war in Thailand pitted the government and army forces there against the indigenous hill people. In personal and written testimony before the United Nations commission last January, he said the Thai army had stolen land, raided villages, and executed or tortured numerous Akha people.

He also has stirred controversy with his criticism of church missionary activities, which he believes are undermining the native culture and family structure, under the auspices of the U.S. government.

After he was forced to leave Thailand, he managed to get his family out of the country - but only as far as Laos.

McDaniel said he and his wife filed the required I-130 form for the visa almost a year ago, but months passed without any word. Immigration officials subsequently told them that was not enough; they also needed to file notarized affidavits from witnesses to the marriage.

They did that, too, but to no avail.

"Basically they are saying that the witness statements are only secondary proof, and that we have to file all over again," McDaniel said in an e-mail. "The seven-month delay in telling us that they wouldn't accept what we provided is the dead giveaway that we are still being persecuted."

The shifting story on the paperwork has been frustrating, he said.

"Had we come up over the southern (U.S.) border ... my wife could have walked down and gotten an Oregon Trail card and a Social Security number," he said.

McDaniel said the couple may even need to remarry and then refile the papers for a visa.

"At any rate, we are stuck in Laos for at least the next six months, and will have to struggle to fund ourselves while here."

McDaniel also is continuing to advocate for the Akha people, which he does through the Akha Heritage Foundation, which has a website, www.akha.org, and an account at Wells Fargo Bank in Keizer.

The situation has been stressful for his wife and children, he said.

"They have no family here," he said. "We barely have money for food and a room."

The couple are teaching their children, three boys and a girl, how to read and write in three languages, including their native Akha tongue.

homepage: homepage: http://www.akha.org
address: address: Laos