People, Races, Ethnicity in the U.S. Indo-Chinese Americans Part 2

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.


Their Story in America: The Indo-Chinese Americans are controversial for several reasons--the memories of an unpopular war that their presence evokes; their visibility, derived from the newsworthy circumstances under which they came and the fact that they arrived virtually all at once; and, to a lesser extent, their arrival during an economic recession. In addition, their ranks included a very small percentage of former government and military figures regarded as unsavory by the American public and by some of the refugees themselves.

Probably no more than 5,000 Indo-Chinese lived in the U.S. prior to 1975. Most were students, GI brides, or earlier political refugees who had been in the country less than 10 years. Those who came in 1975 fled in the closing days and hours of the Indochina wars; most were picked up by American helicopters from the roof of the U.S. embassy in Saigon or from Tan Son Nhut airport, or sailed out to meet U.S. ships in the South China Sea. The vast majority were sent to refugee camps, first in Guam and later in the continental U.S.; over the next eight months they were released after securing sponsorship by individuals or private or religious welfare organizations.

The refugees were made up largely of young families and single young males. Slightly more than half had some knowledge of English when they arrived. Most of the adult refugees started out in jobs well below their previous occupational levels. HEW reported in August, 1977, that 35% of the refugee families were receiving some form of government cash assistance. In the vast majority of cases, however, the assistance was not the primary source of income; the refugees' employment rate was 95% for males and 93% for females--higher than the national average.

The refugees were admitted to the U.S. as "parolees" and will not be eligible for U.S. citizenship for several years, although they have already produced, it is safe to say, a few thousand second-generation Indo-Chinese Americans.

In October, 1975, the U.S. permitted 1,500 refugees who had requested repatriation to return to Vietnam; about 500 more have since asked for repatriation. The vast majority, however, indicate that they want to stay in the U.S. and, if it becomes possible, bring over relatives they left behind.

Famous Indo-Chinese Americans: Former South Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Cao Ky, now owner of a chain of liquor stores in California; former Cambodian Pres. Lon Nol, now living in Honolulu; former South Vietnamese Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan, who was photographed in 1968 executing a Vietcong prisoner, now owner of a restaurant in Washington.

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