Refugee In Iowa In The United States

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Challenges facing Refugee in Iowa in the United States

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Background on chosen issue5



Education of Immigrant Children13


Challenges facing Refugee in Iowa in the United States


On April 25, 1975, by Memorandum to the Secretary of State, President Gerald R. Ford set forth the beginning of assistance for the relocation of South Vietnamese from South Vietnam. By Executive Order 11860, May 19, 1975, the framework and spirit of the relocation was placed in the historical and constitutional mold of the United States as follows:

"Since the arrival of the first settlers on our eastern seaboard nearly 400 years ago, America has been a refuge for victims of persecution, intolerance and privations from around the world. Tide after tide of immigrants had settled here to our well-being as a nation. The arrival of thousands of refugees, mostly children, will require many adjustments on their part and considerable assistance on ours. But it is in our best interest as well as theirs to make this transition as gracious and efficient as humanly. Possible" (Presidential Documents Title 3, p. 22121).

As of December 1975, the more than 131,000 Indochinese refugees have been moved from resettlement camps to permanent homes in the United States. The distribution of these refugees ranged from less than 100 in several states such as Alaska, Delaware, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wyoming, to more than 10,000 in some others such as California and Texas (National Indo- Chinese Clearinghouse, 1975). Iowa received more than 2,000 Indochinese refugees. Immediately following these relocations, American schools constituted a part of the new environment to which an estimated 50,000 school- age refugees had to adjust.

The two largest groups of the Indochinese refugees in Iowa are the Thaidam and the Vietnamese (approximately 1,200 Thaidam and a little more than 1,000 Vietnamese). The totaling about 100, and the Cambodian not exceeding 20, constitute but a very small part of the Indochinese refugees in this state. Thus, the two ethnic groups of interest in this study are the Thaidam and the Vietnamese. Before 1954 the Thaidam (or Black Thai) lived in North Vietnam occupying the area in the border of Vietnam close to China in the north and to Laos in the west. They have their own language, customs, religions that are very similar to the Lao. Under the French domination they constituted a minority ethnic group of Vietnam, studied in the Vietnamese schools, spoke Vietnamese and French besides their own language. After the victory of the Vietnamese communists at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the majority of the Thaidam took refuge in Laos and became Lao citizens sometime later.

They were easily integrated to the Lao society because of the close ties between these two peoples in terms of history, language, and customs (Saythongphet, 1976). The Thaidam adolescents were born in Laos, attended Lao schools, and had been socialized into Lao society before they came to the United States in 1975 after the Communists took over in ...
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