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The Vietnamese Americans’ Successful Transition to the United States

In: People

Submitted By anica0912
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Pages 10
Research Paper for SOC 350
National University
25 November 2012

The Vietnamese Americans’ Successful Transition to the United States

Group of Vietnamese immigrants started after 1975 to the United States started after the
Vietnam War. Early immigrants were refugee boat people (refers to refugees, illegal immigrants or asylum seekers immigrate in numbers in small boat fleeing persecution or poverty). Forced to flee from their mother country and often drive into poor town neighborhoods, these newcomers have yet managed to establish tough communities in a short amount of time. More than sixty percent of Vietnamese Americans reside in the states of California, Texas, Washington , Florida and Virginia. (Rothenberg 205)
As a fairly recent immigrant group, most Vietnamese Americans are either first- or second-generation Americans. They have the lowest division of people with more than one race between the major Asian American groups. As many as one million people who are five years and older speak Vietnamese at home, making it the seventh-most spoken language in the
United States. As refugees, Vietnamese Americans have some of the top rates of naturalization in the 2006 American Community Survey, 72% of foreign-born Vietnamese are naturalized US citizens; this collective with the 36% who are born in the United States makes 82% of them
United States citizen in total. Of those born outside the United States, 46.5% entered before
1990, 38.8% between 1990 and 2000, and 14.6% entered after 2000.
According to the 2010 Census, there are 1,548,449 people who classify themselves as
Vietnamese alone or 1,737,433 in mixture with other ethnicities, ranking fourth between the
Asian American groups. Of those, 581,946 (38%) live in California and 210,913 (14%) in Texas.
The major number of Vietnamese outside of Vietnam is found in Orange County, California overall of 183,766, or 6.1% of the county's population. Vietnamese American businesses are everywhere in Little Saigon, to be found in the communities of Westminster and Garden Grove, where they form of 40.2 and 27.7 percent of the population, respectively. The urban areas of
San Jose, Seattle, Dallas-fort worth, Washington , Washington DC and Houston, have extensive
Vietnamese communities. Lately, the Vietnamese immigration pattern has shifted to other states like Oklahoma and Oregon.
Vietnamese Americans are much more likely to be Christians than Vietnamese who are residing in Vietnam. While Christians (mainly Roman Catholics) make up about 6% of
Vietnam's total population, they compose as much as 23% of the total Vietnamese American population. The record of Vietnamese Americans is a fairly recent. Prior to 1975, most
Vietnamese residing in the United States were wives and children of American servicemen in
Vietnam or academic world. Reports show a that a very light group arrived to work in a variety of unskilled jobs during the late 19th and near the beginning of 20th centuries, including future
Vietnamese politician Ho Chi Minh. However, their numbers were irrelevant. According to the
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization services, only 650 Vietnamese arrived from 1950 to 1974
(as immigrants, excluding those who came as students, diplomats or military trainees). The Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, which ended the Vietnam, war driven the first large-scale wave of? immigration from Vietnam. Many people who had close ties with the Americans or with the then
Republic of Vietnam government feared the promised communist reprisals. During the spring of
1975, 125,000 of them left South Vietnam. Common highly-skilled and educated, they were airlifted by the U.S. government to bases in the Philippines and Guam and were then transferred to refugee centers in the United States.
South Vietnamese refugees originally faced bitterness by Americans following the chaos and confusion of the Vietnam War. A survey was taken in 1975 showed only 36 percent of
Americans were in favor of Vietnamese immigration. However, President Gerald Ford and other officials sturdily supported Vietnamese immigration and passed the Indochina Migration and
Refugee Assistance Act in 1975, which allowed Vietnamese refugees to enter the United States under a particular status. To prevent the refugees from forming ethnic enclaves and to minimize their impact on local communities, they were spread all over the country. Within a few years, on the other hand, many had resettled in California and Texas.
A second wave of Vietnamese refugees began in 1978 and lasted until the mid-1980s.
South Vietnamese, especially former military officers and government employees were sent to Communist reeducation camps, and about two million people fled Vietnam in small, unsafe, crowded fishing boats. These boat people were generally lower on the socioeconomic steps than those in the first wave. Vietnamese escaping by boat usually ended up in asylum camps in
Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong or the Philippines, from which they were allowed to enter countries that agreed to accept them.
Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, reducing restrictions on entry, while the communist Vietnamese government established the Orderly Departure Program (ODP) under the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in response to world disagreement, allowing people to leave legally for family reunions and for humanitarian reasons. Other American laws allowed the children of American servicemen and former political prisoners and their families to enter the United States. A hit the highest point in Vietnamese immigration was in
1992, when many individuals in communist reeducation camps were released or sponsored by their families to come to the United States. Between 1981 and 2000, the US accepted 531,310
Vietnamese political refugees and asylum seekers.
According to a study by the Manhattan Institute in 2008, Vietnamese Americans are among the most assimilated immigrant groups in the US While their rates of cultural and economic assimilation were unexceptional compared to other groups (perhaps due to language differences between English and Vietnamese), their rates of local assimilation were the highest among all the large immigrant groups. Vietnamese Americans, being political refugees, view their stay in the United States as permanent and became involved in the political process in higher rates than other groups.
As refugees from a Communist country, many Vietnamese Americans are strongly against the communism. In a survey conducted for the Orange County Register in 2000, 71% of respondents ranked fighting communism as top priority or very vital. Vietnamese Americans regularly stage protests against the Vietnamese government, its human rights policy and those whom they perceive to be sympathetic to it. In 1999, protests against a video store owner in
Westminster California, who displayed the current Vietnamese flag and a photograph of Ho Chi
Minh peaked when 15,000 people held a vigil in front of the store in one night, causing debates regarding free speech. Membership in the Democratic was once considered abomination among
Vietnamese Americans because it was seen as fewer anti-communist than the Republican Party. yet, their support for the Republican Party has somewhat tough in recent years, as the democratic
Party has become seen in a more positive light by the second generation as well as by newer, poorer refugees. Nevertheless, the Republican Party still has overwhelming support; in Orange
County, Vietnamese Americans registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats at 55% and 22%, respectively, while a national poll in 2008 showed that 22% identify with the
Democratic Party while 29% identify with the Republican Party. Exit polls during the 2004 presidential election show that 72% of Vietnamese American voters in the eight eastern states polled voted for Republican incumbent George W. Bush compared to only 28% who voted for the Democratic challenger John Kerry. In a poll conducted prior to the 2008 presidential election, two-thirds of Vietnamese Americans who made up their mind stated they would vote for the
Republican candidate John McCain, in stark contrast to the other Asian American groups surveyed. The Republican Party's particularly strong voice of Anti-Communism tends to make it more attractive to older Vietnamese Americans and first generation Vietnamese Americans, especially with their arrival to the US during the Reagan Administration. Even though most
Vietnamese are registered Republican, most young Vietnamese lean toward the Democratic
Party. A AALDEF poll found that Vietnamese Americans from the ages of 18 through 29 favored Democrat Barrack Obama by 60% during the 2008 Presidential Election. (Rothenberg
Lately Vietnamese Americans have exercised considerable political power in Orange
County and other areas. One Vietnamese American, Janet Nguyen, serves on the Orange County
Board Of Supervisors, one has served as mayor of Rosemead, CA. In 2008, Westminster became the first city to have a majority Vietnamese American city council. In 2004, Van Tran, a
Republican candidate and Hubert Vo, a Democratic candidate, were elected to the state legislatures of California and Texas, respectively. Some Vietnamese Americans have recently lobbied many city and state governments to make the former South Vietnamese flag instead of the current flag of Vietnam the symbol of Vietnamese in the United States, a move which rose objections from the Vietnamese government. From February 2003 to January 2006, in the USA,
9 States, 3 Counties and 76 Cities have adopted Resolutions recognizing the yellow flag as the
Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag. In 2008, Anh Cao, a Katrina activist, won Louisiana’s
2nd congressional district seat in the House of Representatives as a Republican, becoming the first Vietnamese American elected to Congress.
Many Vietnamese parents pressure their children to excel in school and to enter professional fields such as science, medicine, or engineering because the parents feel insecurity stemming from their disordered past and view education as the only ticket to a better life.
Vietnam's traditionally Confucius society values education and learning, contributing to success among Vietnamese Americans. Many have worked their way up from unskilled labor to have their second generation children attend universities and become successful.
As with other ethnic minority groups in United States, Vietnamese Americans have come into conflict with the larger U.S. population, particularly in how they are apparent and portrayed. There have been degrees of hostility directed toward Vietnamese Americans. For example, on the US Gulf Coast, the white fishermen complained of unfair competition from their
Vietnamese American counterparts resulting in hostility. In the 1980s, the Ku Klux Klan attempted to intimidate Vietnamese American shrimpers. Vietnamese American fishermen banded together to form the first Vietnamese Fishermen Association of America to represent their interests. (Rothenberg 479)
Based on field work in a Vietnamese American community, social scientists argue that
Vietnamese American communities often have impenetrable, well-organized sets of social ties that provides encouragement to and social control of children. At the same time, these communities are often located in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods at the margins of
American society. Vietnamese children who maintain close connections to their own communities are often driven to succeed, while those who are outsiders to their own society often assimilate into some of the most alienated youth cultures of American society and fall into delinquency. Recent studies have indicated that juvenile delinquency among Vietnamese
Americans may have increased in the 21st century, as ethnic community ties have weakened. In conclusion Vietnamese Americans have come to America primarily as refugees, with little or no money, but has academically or financially surpass their Asian counterparts parts,
(who generally have been in the US longer, and did not come as war or political refugees but for economic reasons), census shows that Vietnamese Americans are an upwardly mobile group.
Although clear challenges remain for the community, their economic status improved dramatically between 1989 and 1999. In 1989, 34 percent of Vietnamese Americans lived under the poverty line, but this number was reduced to 16 percent in 1999, compared with just over 12 percent of the U.S. population overall. The younger generations of the Vietnamese-American populations are well educated and often find themselves providing professional services. As the older generations tend to find difficulty in interacting with the non-Vietnamese professional class, there are many Vietnamese-Americans that provide specialized professional services to fellow Vietnamese immigrants.

Works Cited

“A New Century: Immigration and U.S.” Race, Class, and Gender in the United States. Comp
Paula S. Rothenberg, New York: Worth, 2010. 205. Print
"American Community Survey." Errata Data & Documentation U.S. Census Bureau. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <>.
"Carl L. Bankston III,Tulane University,Sociology,Methodology of Social Science,Education." Carl L. Bankston III. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <>.
“Masked Racism” Race, Class, And Gender in the United States. Comp Paula S. Rothenberg,
New York: Worth, 2010. 647. Print

“The Myth of The Model Minority” by Noy Thrupkaew. Race, Class, And Gender in the United

States. Comp Paula S. Rothenberg, New York: Worth, 2010. 220. Print

“The Economics Reality of Being Asian Americany” by Meizhu. Race, Class, And Gender in the

United States. Comp Paula S. Rothenberg, New York: Worth, 2010. 335. Print

“The Economics Reality of Being Asian Americany” by Meizhu. Race, Class, And Gender in the

United States. Comp Paula S. Rothenberg, New York: Worth, 2010. 340. Print

“C.P. Ellis “ by Studs Terkel. Race, Class, And Gender in the United States. Comp Paula S.

Rothenberg, New York: Worth, 2010. 481. Print

"Orange County Politician Is in the Hot Seat." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 14 Aug. 2009. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <>.
" Little Saigon Gets First Vietnamese-American Mayor. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <>.
"Why Do Asian Americans Get Involved in Politics: 2008 NAAS Survey Highlights." AsianWeek. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2012. <>.…...

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