Supposedly, the history of Vietnamese immigration to the United States is “relatively recent. ” (Povell) Prior to 1975, most Vietnamese residing in the US were wives and children to American servicemen in Vietnam. In 1975, the ‘Fall of the Saigon’ marked the end of the Vietnam War, which prompted the first of two main waves of Vietnamese emigration towards the US. The first wave included Vietnamese who had helped the US in the war and “feared reprisals by the Communist party.
According to Povell, the US airlifted – or otherwise transported – 125,000 Vietnamese during the Spring of 1975, as part of “Operation New Life. ” The Vietnamese immigrants were brought to US government bases in Guam, Thailand, Wake Island, Hawaii and the Philippines. Subsequently, they were transferred to 4 refugee centers: Camp Pendleton in California Fort Chaffee in Arkansas Eglin Air Force Base in Florida Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania.
Vietnamese Immigration Essay Example
As might be expected when immediately following the Vietnam war, the American populous did not welcome Vietnamese immigrants with open arms. “A poll in 1975 showed a mere 36% of Americans were in favor of Vietnamese immigration. ” (Povell) However, the Ford Administration supported the Vietnamese immigration movement and passed the “Indochina Migration and Refugee Act” in 1975. As a result, a program of domestic resettlement assistance for Cambodian and Vietnamese immigrants was established.
In 1977, as a result of the new Communist government’s implementation of economic, agricultural and political policies, the second wave of Vietnamese refugees, which would last 3 years, began. ? What was so wrong with these policies that caused so many Vietnamese to flee their country of birth? These policies included: ‘Reeducation’ and torture of former South Vietnamese military personnel and those “presumed friendly to the South Vietnamese cause. ” (Povell) Closing of businesses owned by ethnic Chinese Vietnamese Seizing of farmland and subsequent redistribution
Forced-mass-relocation of citizens from urban to uncultivated or ‘ruined’ rural areas During the second wave, 2 million Vietnamese fled Vietnam in small, overcrowded boats; the US were not longer ‘shipping’ them over in cargo boats or airlifts. That is why this group of Vietnamese immigrants became known as the “boat people. ” Supposedly, most of the “boat people” fled to asylum camps in “Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines or Hong Kong and awaited acceptance by foreign countries. ” (Povell) To further assist Vietnamese refugees, Congress passed an act in 1980 called the Refugee Act.
It reduced restrictions on entry to the US and provided an official definition of a refugee. It also set the number of refugee admissions at 50,000 per year and allowed a refugee that stayed in the US for 1 year to become a permanent resident. Finally, after four years, the Act allowed refugees to become a United States citizen. On a side note, addition laws were passed that allowed children of American servicemen to enter the United States. In total, the United States accepted “531,310 refugees and asylum seekers from Vietnam between 1981 and 2000.
In the US, the Vietnamese immigrants were ‘accommodated’ in the following ways: 9 voluntary agencies existed whose job was to “coordinate the refugee’s eventual resettlement with local sponsors into communities throughout the United States. ” (Povell) Voluntary churches and families sponsored Vietnamese families with food, clothing and shelter until they became self-sufficient. Sponsors were also responsible to help the new family adjust in any way possible, including helping them find employment, registering their kids for school and adjustment to the American way of life.
By the 1990s, “large numbers of Vietnamese migrated from their initial resettlement locations to join family and friends in metropolitan areas” (Povell) where ethnic Vietnamese communities were being established. Currently: 40% of Vietnamese-Americans live in Orange County, California. Other smaller established communities exist in San Jose, Houston and the greater Washington, DC area. One million Americans speak Vietnamese at home, making it the 7th most spoken language in the US. “Vietnamese-Americans have one of the highest rates of naturalization among all immigrant groups.
Vietnamese-Americans have kept their traditions and religious values intact, without alienating themselves from the American society altogether. According to Povell, their value system includes: “high educational expectations and strong commitment to family ties. ” Furthermore, “because of the emphasis placed on education, a rapidly growing proportion of established Vietnamese Americans are now moving into professional, managerial, and entrepreneurial positions, especially in the high-tech sector and in locations such as Silicon Valley”.
Finally, it is expected that Vietnamese immigration to the United States will continue at a high rate. According to the 2000 census, there are currently over 1. 2M Vietnamese Americans, making them the fifth largest Asian immigrant group and recent studies have shown that Vietnamese-Americans will soon become the second largest Asian-American population in the United States.