On December 29, 1954, France withdrew their troops from Vietnam after losing the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. Leaving Vietnam divided into two halves, North and the South. This caused a lot of friction between the two sides, which would later lead to bloodshed. On November 1, 1955 the Vietnam War officially began between the North and South sides of Vietnam. The North wanted a communist society while the South wanted the economy to stay capitalistic. This fight between economic ideologies led to the North trying to overtake the South. When this happened, America stepped in and sent their troops to help out the South, however, this help was not enough. About four million people died in this tragic war, with North Vietnam coming out on top. Once the North won, they went to the South’s land and started to re-educate the people about their ideals. This re-education involved the North forcing them into camps where they were tortured, brainwashed, and forced to do hard labor. Also, the camps were in poor living conditions; people were treated with very little food, and they had no medical care. With the mixture of doing hard labor work with very little food, the prisoners were dying of starvation, overwork, and punishment. It was necessary for these people to escape Vietnam for America in search of a better life. They hoped that when they arrived in America they could leave behind all this pain and suffering, which was true, however, they had to deal with something else. Something that about 31 percent of Americans have to experience: discrimination.
Before these Vietnamese immigrants arrived in America, a poll was taken to see how Americans at the time felt about Vietnamese immigration. The poll results came out as 36 percent of Americans were fine with Vietnamese immigrants coming to their country; however, 64% of Americans did not want Vietnamese immigrants traveling to their country. This made sense, America had just lost thousands of soldiers in the Vietnam War. Tensions were very high. Despite this fact, the immigrants still came to America. Refugee camps were set up to help these people. However, the camps were in very poor living conditions and very small for how many immigrants there were. The U.S. citizens saw the camps as an opportunity to cast blame on the Vietnamese people. Native U.S. citizens called them burdens to society for relying on the government for help. They wanted them to be treated as immigrants rather than refugees. This difference in treatment between refugees and immigrants would mean that they would no longer have refugee camps or access to basic health care. Since this change occurred, there was an influx of Vietnamese people into the job market. Most of them tried to get high-class jobs, yet we're seen as a burden to the job market. Most, if not all, were rejected from these jobs simply because they were Vietnamese. Many Vietnamese immigrants turned to low-paying, or even illegal, jobs like cleaning ladies, fishermen, or prostitutes. These jobs were grueling, and people treated the workers with little to no respect. they didn’t see Vietnamese people as humans. It seemed like wherever the Vietnamese went they were either a threat to America or a burden to society. Enduring these hardships, they stayed with their jobs and continued to work. There was nowhere left for them to go. They couldn’t go home, the home that they knew was no more, so they decided to make America their home whether the Americans liked it or not. They adapted to American culture by learning English and sending their kids to school. Even though they tried to assimilate into American culture, they were still met with discrimination. Americans would often make fun of Vietnamese people for not being able to speak perfect English and speaking it with a strong accent. Their children were often bullied at schools for a variety of reasons: having different shaped eyes, different colored skin, speaking a different language, and different economic status. They were deemed outcasts and losers. All of these factors made it extremely difficult for them to adapt to American culture. However, with hard work and dedication, they were able to achieve what some people might call the American dream.
Even now, though many Vietnamese families today are very wealthy and successful, their journey to get to this position was littered with unnecessary road bumps. Looking at the story of Vietnamese immigrants can teach us a lot about the debate about immigration that is happening today. We all know that leaving your home is a hard choice, but it’s a choice that these people have to make in order to survive. Instead of denying them jobs, housing, and home, we should greet them with open arms. In conclusion, you should not fear immigrants of any race, because they aren’t here to crash the economy or to take your jobs. They are here because they are a scared group of people that need a place to call home.