What is a refugee?
Definition of "Refugee"United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:
"A refugee is essentially any person who is outside his home country owing to well-founded fear of persecution for reasons, of race, religion, nationality or political opinion." (General Assembly Resolution 428 (V) of 14 December 1950)
"An applicant for refugee status is normally in a particularly vulnerable situation. He finds himself in an alien environment and may experience serious psychological difficulties in submitting his case to the authorities of a foreign country, often in a language not his own."
Displaced Persons Act of 1948
-Helped individuals who were victims of persecution by the Nazi government or who were fleeing persecution because of fear of persecution based on race, religion or political opinions.
-From 1945 to 1952, more than 250,000 Jewish displaced persons (DPs) lived in camps and urban centers in Germany, Austria, and Italy.
-U.S. act authorized 200,000 DPs to enter the United States, including 80,000 Jewish individuals
-Displaced person could bring their family with them as long as they were "good" citizens who could stay out of jail and provide financially for themselves without public assistance.
Cuban Refugees (see class session on 4/3)
First wave of Vietnamese Refugees, 1975 (130,000)
-mostly high ranking government officials and military officers and their families
-2/3 held white-collar jobs in Vietnam; 24% were from professional, managerial, technical backgrounds; 5% farmers / fishermen
-most came from urban areas, were Christian, and migrated as families
-adaptation to United States was relatively smooth
"Saigon Evacuated," History.com
Second Wave, 1977-1980s (653,000)
-included lower ranking government officials who had not been able to escape were forced into "reeducation camps" for individuals associated with the old regime
-made to suffer in deplorable conditions; many arrived in U.S. permanently scarred; Had higher rates of poverty and a more difficult times adjusting to the U.S. than the first wave
-ethnic Chinese who had been expelled after Vietnam and China engaged in war in 1978
-escaped in secret by boat in the open seas to places of refuge throughout SE Asia, especially Thailand
-30-50% die during escape
-430,000 ethnic Chinese expelled from Vietnam. Estimated arrivals in U.S. = 261,000
-Diverse group, including educated professionals and fishermen, farmers, from rural areas
-Adjustment to U.S. more difficult: non-English speaking, lower employment rates, disillusionment, family unit breakdown, gang activity
Third Wave: Refugees from Laos, 1977-1990s (ethnic Lao, Hmong, Mien)
-North Vietnamese supply line ran through Laos. As Americans and North Vietnamese battled over control of the supply line, war spread to Laos
-Hmong "Armee Clandestine" recruited and trained Hmong soldiers. At its peak, 40,000 men served
"Laos: The Not So Secret War" (1970) CBS News
-General Vang Pao - allied the Hmong with the U.S. CIA
-Portraits: Ly Xiong Pao, soldier in the "Secret Army" (MPR, 1999)
Becoming American (Documentary about Hmong Refugees)
Fourth Wave: Cambodia
-Pol Pot's KHMER ROUGE emerged victorious in April 17, 1975
--Communist, goal to restructure local economy into self-sufficient agrarian economy
--elites, educated, professionals, city dwellers persecuted
--slave labor camps established
--2 to 3 million Cambodians (33% population) died unnatural deaths from starvation, overwork, torture and execution
--1978 invasion by Vietnam drives out Khmer Rouge but does not lessen hardships
--100,000 resettled in U.S.