After the United States’ withdrawal from Viet Nam War and the fall of the Saigon to Communist in April, 1975, millions of people fled the country, for their lives and freedom. Many of them immigrated to the U.S. in two different waves. The first wave started in 1975, comprising people who associated with the Americans. The second wave included people who wanted to escape the Communist government’s control. The factors that pushed these two waves of immigration out of Viet Nam, and their efforts to be assimilated into the U.S. society are now parts of American history.
The First Wave
American involvement in the Vietnam War ended in April 1975 following by an evacuation of U.S. citizens, Vietnamese who worked for the U.S. government or businesses, and their families. In the final days before the fall of Saigon, thousands of people desperately jammed the Tan Son Nhut Airport and the United States Embassy, climbing over fences, clinging to helicopters, and even climbing over each other to escape. Among them were government officials, members of the military, and private citizens. Parents who could not escape pushed their children to the helicopters, hoping that they could find safety in another country. They were transported to “…temporary refugee camps… including Guam, Thailand, Wake Island, Hawaii, and the Philippines.” In just a matter of weeks, the U.S. Congress wrote legislation to allow refugees to enter the country. On May 23, 1975, President Ford signed “‘The Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1975’ …providing financial assistance with relocation and resettlement for refugees…” who escaped from Cambodia and Vietnam. Unfortunately, American resented the idea that thousands of Vietnamese would come to the U.S.
Radio Station WFIW in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, took a telephone poll, asking listeners the question: “Do you think we’re doing the right thing bringing the refugees from South Vietnam to this country?” Within an hour, the station reported, 272 callers answered “No” and only 69 replied “Yes.” Obviously, many Americans were tired of the U.S.’s involvement in Viet Nam, and there were enough domestic problems that the U.S government needed to deal with. The government had spent too much money on the war. The “Pentagon estimate[d] the dollar cost of the war for the United States at $141 billion from 1961 to 1975…”, which was approximately ten percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product in 1975. Americans wanted the government use money to restore the economy after Viet Nam War, not to take on more potential economic burden. The U.S. also had a high unemployment rate, estimated to be 8.9 percent. Besides these problems, the U.S. government was also faced with an overwhelming number of people who needed to be resettled and taken care of; therefore, some Americans just wanted the government to abandon the Vietnamese people, and let them solve their own issues.
Ernest B. Furgurson noted in a Fort Worth Star-...