After the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Us took in more than 1,00,000 Vietnamese refugees in less than a year, a policy government desperately needs to learn from as it deals with the impact of withdrawing from Afghanistan.
With the Taliban regaining power, thousands of Afghans are poised to flee a regime that’s expected to be not only more repressive than the previous government but also more hostile to US allies in the country. Already, roughly 88,000 Afghans are estimated to have applied for special immigration visas(SIVs), an immigration channel open to individuals who worked with US government as well as their family members. In addition to people pursuing SIVs, other Afghan residents are expected to apply for refugee status if they’re able to do so.
As per the situation in Vietnam War, Us is holding responsibility to provide safe harbor to people whose safety has threatened by a conflict the country engaged in for past 20 years.”There was a sense that we had a moral obligation to help people out after failing them during the Cold War,” says Phuong Tran Nguyen, a history professor at California State University Monterey Bay and author of the book Becoming Refugee American. “I think this is what we’re seeing right now, this same parallel.”
Phuong Tran Nguyen says we have seen images of people who are trying to get out as quickly as possible the inability for whatever reason of the Us to be able to evacuate people in timely order. What’s more important here is looking at getting Afghans into this country and where they’re going to be resettled afterward. Refugees are different from immigrants.One is that their conditions of departure were involuntary, whereas immigrants left of, mostly, their own free will. But also it’s the perception and social conditions that existed at the time.
After that, in 1975, after all these processing procedures were taken care of, and [people] passed their vetting, they were then relocated to four military bases in the United States. That would be their last processing place before they were going to be resettled in the United States.People don’t necessarily have family or friends; they didn’t have a job that was already waiting for them beforehand. They were not already set to go to school here. Because those are the usual sponsors that bring immigrants into this country: job, family, or school.
There’s a desire to get people out of the camps and resettled as quickly as possible. And there’s the other end of it: where refugees-especially those who don’t know anybody in the country, don’t know the language or the culture -they want to stick together as long as possible. There were stories in 1975 about a lot of refugees refusing to leave the camps if they couldn’t be joined by other people in the camp who either were family or they claimed were family. So, you know, there were some places and businesses that had success relocating large amounts of people.
My family is not part of the first wave; they’re part of the second wave, infamously called “boat people.” And when we got resettled within the United States, we didn’t really have a choice. You wait to see if somebody in the United States is willing to take you in and bring you over, and you become essentially like an adoptee. I think the main thing is just making sure that people have an opportunity to build community, to have a little less of an emphasis on assimilation. And to assume that forgetting the past, just thinking forward is going to be enough to deal with.
And [the government] spent, you know, lots of political and cultural capital over the years, talking about the threat this nation posed to us, to US interests and freedom. And now you’re bringing people of that same country over, and you have to explain, “Oh, no, it was actually a civil war instead, and we’re bringing the people who are on our side, our friends. And so it’s a whole new ballgame.”
And, you know, this country has a very, very long history of xenophobia. It’s a shame that we have to kind of engage in these battles and that we can’t go beyond it. But the reason we can’t go beyond it is because the anti-immigrant side is still there. As long as there’s a side that’s resistant, you still have to fight them.