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Pentagon Rescinds Ban On Clearances For Naturalized Citizens

February 16, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Pentagon, faced with an adverse court ruling, has rescinded a virtual ban on security clearances for naturalized citizens from countries deemed hostile to U.S. interests.

A federal judge who barred the Pentagon from enforcing the regulation against two naturalized citizens from Vietnam was informed by the Defense Department that the April 8, 1987 regulations had been rescinded and the lawsuit against them was moot.

″United States citizens born in countries designated as hostile or who have resided in those coutries for significant periods of their lives will be considered for security clearances on an equal basis with natural-born citizens,″ government attorneys told U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan in a memo filed last Friday.

On Feb. 3, Hogan enjoined the Pentagon from enforcing the regulations against Phong T. Huynh, an electrical engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center and his sister, Vien U. Huynh, a computer scientists at the same facility in Dahlgren, Va.

The two had fled their homeland in 1978 by boat with other refugees and emigrated to the United States where they both obtained their formal education and American citizenship. The Huynhs filed suit to challenge the regulations after being told they would likely lose their security clearances and their jobs.

When he granted an injunction in the Huynh case, Hogan urged the Pentagon to rescind the regulations to avoid a lengthy court battle. The judge said the regulations appeared to be unreasonable and unconstitutional.

The regulations generally barred security clearances for U.S. citizens who had immigrated from 29 nations deemed hostile to the United States. Besides Vietnam, the list of countries included Soviet bloc nations, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Nicaragua, Syria and Libya.

An individual who was born in one of the 29 countries would be eligible to obtain a security clearance only if the person had been an American citizen for at least five years or has resided in this country for at least a decade.

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