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.” (Povell)
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.
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...
References: Povell, Marc. "The History of Vietnamese Immigration." The History of Vietnamese Immigration. American Immigration Law Foundation, 2 June 2005. Web. 27 June 2012. .
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