Why do Vietnamese want to live in America?

It's often said that there were three major waves of Vietnamese immigration to America. Long after the start of the final wave, Vietnamese--and many others--still dream of coming to America.


During the first wave of Vietnamese immigration, highly-skilled and educated Vietnamese migrated to the United States upon the Fall of Saigon.  Most of them had intimate ties with Americans and/or the Republic of Vietnam and thus feared communist retaliation.  During the second wave, Vietnamese from predominantly rural and uneducated backgrounds fled Vietnam by boats to escape the distressing political and economical conditions of the new regime.  During the third wave, children of American servicemen, newly released former prisoners of re-education camps, and family members of now Vietnamese-Americans were sponsored to come to the United States in order to reunite with other family members.

These three waves have resulted in Vietnamese Americans becoming the third largest group amongst Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.  Vietnamese Americans were only outnumbered by Chinese and Filipino Americans according to the 2006 American Community Survey.

And still, numerous Vietnamese are coming to America in the 21st century.  Why?  What are the compelling reason(s) for Vietnamese to leave their motherland to come and rebuild a livelihood in a foreign country?

Is it still for family reunification?  The legal process usually requires up to ten years for a citizen to sponsor relative(s) with underage children to resettle in America.  There are exceptions, such as for sponsoring elderly parents.  This, however, does not seem very beneficial as most sponsored relative(s) would be relatively older by the time they can come, so it seems that the benefit here would only be for the younger children.

Are these individuals coming to America because of the perceived notion that America is paradise – where food, jobs, money, entertainment, and standards of living amongst others are aplenty?  Is this a misconception based on oversea Vietnamese Americans being able to send money back home?  Is this a misconception based on oversea Vietnamese Americans being able to vacation in Vietnam while flashing more so-called “bling”?  Or, maybe, comparatively, America is paradise, and these individuals will not be disillusioned.

Or, is it still due to distressing political and economical conditions?  Or, perhaps, the conditions are not as distressing, but conceivably, the new youths of Vietnam are relocating to the United States to seek educational and/or employment opportunities that may not be as abundantly available in their homeland.

What are the reason(s) that still motivate Vietnamese to come to and even stimulate some to illegally stay in America?


  • wang_the_chang

    Are you going to answer your questions or just trolling for comments?

    On a second matter, please do not confuse limited education with uneducated.  Here is the quote lifted directly from the link in your article.

    “..the second wave came overwhelmingly from rural
    backgrounds and usually had limited education.”There is a distinct difference between uneducated (no education) and limited education (some education or not enough education).I won’t get into how unethical the act is to misrepresent information for sensationalizing.

    • JKD

      Hi
      wang_the_chang,

       

      Thank you
      for reading the article.  The author did
      mention some possible reasons for Vietnamese wanting to live in America –
      albeit presented in the form of questions – family unification, the notion of
      America being the “beautiful country” (“nuoc my”) and educational and
      employment opportunities.  These are just
      a few possible reasons and are definitely not all encompassing.  Perhaps, you could provide other possible
      reasons.

       

      In regards
      to the second matter that was mentioned: the quote as lifted directly from the
      article is… “During the second wave, Vietnamese from predominantly rural and
      uneducated backgrounds fled Vietnam by boats to escape the distressing
      political and economical conditions of the new regime.”  This is not to say that all from the second
      wave falls into this category.  This is
      stating that the second wave is predominantly from this background.  The author had no intention of offending
      anyone, and perhaps “predominantly from […] uneducated or limitedly educated backgrounds”
      would be less offending and more encompassing.  The author had no intention of misrepresenting
      information nor does the author believe that the current information, as
      presented, causes sensationalization.

  • Nguyen Ruler

    Jenny K,
    You should remove the words “and uneducated” altogether.  It is a poor reflection of your understanding of the world.  In fact, you could remove the word “rural” too as it offers no new info.  Vietnam is predominantly an agrarian society, so most people would naturally live on a farm in the countryside.

    That said, the color of the map matches the color of your bow tie :-)

    • JKD

      Hi Nguyen
      Ruler,

       

      Thank you
      for commenting.  The author does not
      claim to be an expert whose understanding of the world is perfect.  However, the words “rural” and “uneducated”
      have two varying meanings and hence do present different information.  While it is unfortunate that the two often
      appear in similar settings, it is not always the case.

       

      That said,
      your eyes are quite acute =)

  • Anon

    I find it ironic and maybe I’m just a isolated case but I hold a fairly nice job in the US in biomedical research and am actively applying for several positions in VN so that I can do the opposite (leave my cushy job in the US for one in VN).

    • JKD

      Hi Anon,

       

      Thank you
      very much for sharing your thoughts.  Your
      case is not necessarily ironic and most definitely not an isolated case.  The author is familiar with other individuals
      who can share similar stories to yours. 
      Can you share some reasons why you have decided to move to Vietnam?

       

  • Duong Nguyen

    Hi JKD,

    You might want to check on the fact that the work salary/wage in Vietnam does not correlated with educational level but social networking/ family descendent. For example, a doctor degrees in Vietnam shall lead you to nowhere other than a paper boy in a company unless you came from a high status family (where your father/mom is renowned)  and have many good social connections with high status persons. Therefore many people, especially students often desire to live in USA rather than go back in Vietnam because at least in here we got paid for what we have investigated. They are obviously acknowledged about the myth of American Dream etc but it is just that they do not have a choice to go back home. Take an example of a Nursing student: In Vietnam, a nurse is considered as a low class, fecal cleaner of a hospital. Should that person paid 40 grands in here for a Nursing degrees to be something like that back home?

  • Casper

    I  live in Holland and love this country…I am not here just for a job or better finance. I do not think I can live in Vietnam or USA because I am so European. Money is not everything. There are loads of vietnamese in Vietnam who have much more money than I have. Comparing to them I am just a poor person, but I have the most wonderful happy life in Amsterdam that they can never have and dream of

  • Crissy Christian

    How does someone move from Vietnam to America? What are the first steps?