Refugees as Immigrants: Cambodians, Laotians, and Vietnamese in America

Refugees as Immigrants: Cambodians, Laotians, and Vietnamese in America

Refugees as Immigrants: Cambodians, Laotians, and Vietnamese in America

Refugees as Immigrants: Cambodians, Laotians, and Vietnamese in America

Excerpt

The research on Southeast Asian refugees in the United States is important for three reasons. First, and most directly, it documents and illuminates the process of adjustment among a diverse refugee population that has come to the United States in large numbers during a remarkably short period of time. Second, concerned as the research is with the early adjustment of a particular set of newcomers, it has a significant role in the broader investigation of immigrant adaptation to American society. Third, since refugee resettlement involves the interaction of refugees and a complex, detailed program designed to aid them, this research provides a rare window on the effects—intended and unintended, positive and negative— of social programs.

The surveys described in this volume reflect this diversity of focus as the authors move back and forth among concerns specific to refugees (loss of kin in exodus, the effects of camp residence); those shared by other immigrants (jobs available in specific localities, the effects of socioeconomic background, shifts in fertility rates); and those that reflect the extensive and detailed involvement of public and private organizations in refugee resettlement (use of assistance and services, migrations putatively in response to policy changes). It is the relative mix of such concerns, coupled with varying coverage of different components of the overall Southeast Asian refugee population at different times in their adjustment, and with the rapidly shifting economic, political, and programmatic context at the time of interviewing, that gives each survey its unique place within the overall body of research.

With the necessary warning about the extent of simplification needed to describe complex sets of data in a relatively small space, the chapters that follow speak for themselves. However, for those lacking previous exposure to the research on Southeast Asian refugees in the United States, there may be value in a brief introduction to this population, to the shifting contexts in which refugee resettlement has taken place in the United States, and to the . . .

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