People, Races, Ethnicity in the U.S. Indo-Chinese Americans Part 1

About the Indo-Chinese Americans in the U.S. including where they are from, why they left, how many there are, famous Indo-Chinese-Americans and more.


Where They Came From: The Indo-Chinese refugee "community" which came to the U.S. in 1975-1976 is approximately 89% Vietnamese, 7% Laotian, and 4% Cambodian. The reduced number that began arriving in mid-1977 included relatively fewer Vietnamese and more Laotians. The Vietnamese and Cambodians came mainly from the areas that were overrun last in the quick Communist victories in both countries--Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and coastal areas like Nha Trang and Vung Tau and, in Cambodia, Phnom Penh. Many of the Vietnamese, however, are from families that moved from northern to southern Vietnam after the country was divided in 1954.

Why They Left: Virtually all were political refugees who feared for their lives under a Communist government. Most were middle-class, and many had fought in the South Vietnamese and Cambodian armies or had been associated with Americans.

Where They Settled: The U.S. government agencies involved in resettling the Indo-Chinese tried to buck centuries of American immigration experience by dispersing the newcomers across the country, lest "Little Saigons" arouse the hostility of Americans. Climate and economic prospects have dictated otherwise, and the refugees have been gravitating mainly to California, Texas, and the Washington, D.C., area.

Numbers: In mid-1977 there were about 155,000 Indo-Chinese in the U.S., including not only the 1975-1976 refugees but also students and diplomats who were in the U.S. in 1975 and were given refugee status, a handful of Indo-Chinese who had already settled in America, and 2,500 orphans who were airlifted out of Indochina just before the war ended.

In January, 1977, the Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare reported 35,400 Indo-Chinese refugees in California; 12,500 in Texas; 7,000 in Pennsylvania; 6,200 in Virginia; and 6,100 in Louisiana. Subsequent estimates, however, have put the California figure closer to 60,000 and rising steadily. About 3,000 refugees were resettled in Canada, mainly in Montreal.

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