Vietnamese Immigrants

By: Lauralys Shallow, Stephanie Baucum, Isabella Grisanti, Will McCullough

Why did they come?
Many of the new Vietnamese immigrants, otherwise known as the boat people, came from what had been North Vietnam, and were largely poor fishermen and farmers. Since they were from the North, and had lived under a communist
system well before the end of the Vietnam War, any officials claimed that they were not fleeing from a fear of persecution after the communist takeover in 1975. They suggested instead that the new refugees were "economic migrants," fleeing poverty in hope of a better life. Many people came hoping and looking for a better life and opportunity. When the Vietnamese War broke out, many people were affected by it but many said that they were not fleeing because they were scared, but because they were wanting a better life with better opportunities. Many of the people living there were from were fisherman and farmers. They knew that they could get some kind of job in America that they could use their skills for, even if it was a lower class type of job. They were looking for a better chance of life for themselves and their families. Many people were fleeing from persecution and not being able to have their freedom. Also, some were not able to practice their religion freely.

What did they experience once they got to America?
Many of the Vietnamese immigrants spoke different languages, so they could not communicate very well. As well as not knowing how to speak English, lots of them had very few skills in order to have a successful life in America. Since the Vietnamese were drawn out across the country, they were not near their fellow citizens. Not long after they came, more and more people began to come to America and start families by having children. Another problem was that prior to the Vietnam War, there was no Vietnamese culture in America. Therefore, nobody could help the Vietnamese immigrants make the transition from Vietnam to America any easier. Although many of the Vietnamese were educated, they were forced to accept any
jobs that they could get a hold of. In Vietnam they might have been doctors or lawyers,Vietnamese_refugees_on_US_carrier,_Operation_Frequent_Wind.jpg
but in America they became janitors, limousine drivers, and even night watchmen. For some, they were taught English and paired up with American sponsors who helped them find jobs, clothe them, and provide shelter. Some Vietnamese forced themselves to flee Vietnam via boat. These people became known as "boat people." Unfortunately, the refugee centers were shut down in 1976, so late immigrants were forced to adapt to their new culture on their own. People that came later on average were not as smart as the ones that had come prior to them. As a result of this, they had a harder time learning English and finding jobs. Today, many Vietnamese-Americans are successful businessmen and professionals. Every year, they send an estimated $2 billion back to their relatives in Vietnam.

How did Americans react to the new immigrants?
America was split apart over the Vietnamese immigrants arrival. One side hated the fact that the U.S was allowing the Vietnamese to flee to our country. The other side was for admitting more Vietnamese. The arguments against admitting more Vietnamese, otherwise known as the boat people, had good points. The U.S. was in the midst of a deep recession, and could not afford to admit any more boat people. They would take scarce jobs from Americans and drain government resources. Also, the boat people were not escaping persecution but were simply escaping economic woes in Vietnam.
Therefore, they were "economic migrants," not "refugees," and did not deserve to be relocated_vietboat.jpged in the United States. But the arguments for admitting more boat people strongly disagreed. The U.S. was morally forced to help the suffering refugees because the U.S. was paricularly indebted to the South Vietnamese because of the help they provided to the U.S. in its fight againts communism during the Vietnam War. Also, the boat people were refugees, not economic immigrants.They would not set out on such a dangerous journey, during which as many as 60% of them died, simply for economic gain. Lastly, the U.S. was a nation of immigrants, and was obligated to help others in need who sought refuge in the U.S.

This picture shows the overcrowded boats the Vietnamese used to escape Vietnam to come to America.

This picture shows what little belongings the Vietnamese had when they entered into the United States.

Will- Duc Pho (physical exercise, desire)
Isabella- My Pho (pretty)
Stepahanie- Nu Pho (girl)
Lauralys-Mai Pho (cherry blossom)


Will- Chacos, jeans, big collared shirt
Lauralys- chacos, jeans, big shirt
Isabella- chacos, jeans, big shirt
Stephanie- sandals, jeans, big shirt

Luggage bags (Mrs. Neal)

Duc- Well daughter, while were waiting for mother Nu and My, tell me, have you enjoyed these 5 years in America?

Mai- Well the first few weeks were awful. We were dropped off at dirty hotel in Detroit with $50 and a ton of other immigrants and mental people. We had nothing to cook, we didn't know what to eat, and we didn't know what American food was. The only other language we could speak was French. 3 weeks later we finally got a call saying we got a sponser that was willing to take care of us. We were crammed in their basement with one bedroom and a living room. They took us grocery shopping, bought us new clothes,got you a job, sent me to school, and taught us how to cook. They were so nice.

Duc- That was very gracious of them, but I hated my job as a typewriter repairmen. Oh, how I longed to work on the ships but you had to be American born to work on them. How is school?

Mai- At first, I was made fun of because I talked funny and wore weird clothing. I didn't know where anything was, I came to every class late, and I was confused and I couldn't ask people for help. After a while, I got along with some of the other students and made some friends. I'm stilll made fun of by some, but I have good friends now.

Duc- Look! they are here!!

Nu- Duc! Mai! I have missed you all so much!

Duc- How was your journey over?

My- Well father, their were 52 people in a 12 foot long boat, and we could not move. I sat with my knees in my face and I couldn't lie down. Mother and I were some of the only women, and I was the only child on the boat.

Nu- We left on a rainy night to avoid the military police boats out in the sea looking for boats like us. We were on our way to an Indonesian refugee camp and then to get a plane to here.

My- The captian said we shouldn't go to Thailand because of the pirates.

Mai- Did you encounter any pirates?

Nu- We did one night, but we were camoflauged so we wouldn't be seen and raped. They got on our boats and forced us to give them all of our money and possesions. Surprisingly, they didn't kill anyone.

My- Two ships from Holland and Italy saw us and they didn't stop to take us to help us! They even tried to hit us. In two weeks we finally saw a German ship that took us to Indonesia.

Nu- After eight months at the Indonesian refugee camp we traveled by boat and plane to Singapore, Hong Kong, and then we flew into here, the United States.

Duc- We are very lucky to be together and have the oppurtunities that others from our country don't have. Let us celebrate and be thankful.

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