Southeast Asian “Immigration” Essay

In the history of United States, there have been many people from different countries who want to immigrate from their home country to the United States. Mainly they are divided into groups based on geography such as North American, Asian, and etc. Today I will talk about the Southeast Asian group. Geographically, Southeast Asia is divided in to two regions, the Asian mainland and island arcs. The countries in the mainland region are Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Peninsular Malaysia; while the maritime section consists of Brunei, East Malaysia, East Timor, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Singapore.

The first documented Southeast Asian immigrants arrived in the 1950s and early 1960s. This population consisted of mainly Vietnamese immigrants and was small in number—only a little over 18,000. It was mostly made of university students, diplomats, and wives of American servicemen who entered the country as the war escalated. The second wave of Southeast Asian immigrants was refugees leaving war torn Vietnam, some 130,000. They entered the U. S with the help of the newly passed Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act to provide funds for resettlement programs.

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The third wave of refugees (1978–1982) involved two groups: the “land people” from Cambodia and Laos, and the “boat people” from Vietnam. The reasons for this move were that Vietnam’s internal economic problems and tensions between the Soviet Union, Vietnam’s main ally, and China, the principal source of arms for the Khmer Rouge and other groups battling the Vietnamese in Cambodia. After the change of governments in Vietnam and Cambodia and amidst turmoil in the mid 1970s, many Southeast Asians, fearing reprisals, emigrated from these countries.

Among them were children, many of whom were separated from their families prior to, or during, their escape. Many of them had been resettled in the Western countries from refugee camps, and were now adolescents or entering into young adulthood. With memories of the war and the stress of separation from family and adaptation to different cultures, psychosocial problems were common in this population. Most teenagers from all the Southeast Asian ethnic groups have adopted the dress, hairstyles and manners of American teenagers.

Like many newcomers, they first take on the outward cultural traits of their American peers. Yet, internally, particularly among those who arrived in the United States as youth, the ethnic identity of Southeast Asian youth remains strong and specific: they see themselves as Hmong, Khmer, Vietnamese, Sino-Vietnamese, or Lao. Not only do they rarely make friends with American students, but they have few cross-ethnic friendships with other Southeast Asians.

For example, Vietnamese youth who participate in gangs do so largely among themselves. By looking at the history I believe that immigrant have to face many difficulties to coming from one place to another in difficult condition. I was hard for them to forget their past and start their new life in United State. I consider that things get better by time and that what happen with Southeast Asian that things get better for them in united states.

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