In April of 1975, as Saigon fell and American troops evacuated Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of Indochinese people sought refuge in the United States. This massive influx of people fleeing their war-torn lands and seeking safety in the United States demonstrated the need for the federal government and non-profit organizations to work together to welcome refugees. In 1980 the United States Refugee Admissions Program was established, initiated by the diaspora of the Vietnamese people.
Although LIRS and other private agencies had been helping to resettle refugees since World War II, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program was the foundation for larger, systemic admissions to the country. From its beginning with Vietnamese refugees, the work of the Refugee Admissions Program has helped over 3 million people begin a new life in the United States.
At this time of year, it is especially appropriate to honor the new beginnings the United States offers to displaced people and first offered to the Vietnamese. Tết, the celebration of the Vietnamese New Year, has begun and continues through early February. The festivals and celebrations taking place across the United States mark a time of reflection, reunion and peaceful wishes for the new year ahead.
As the Vietnamese American community celebrates the beginning of the Year of the Dragon, LIRS is honoring the myriad of ways that Vietnamese refugees have enriched the culture and society of the United States by supporting and attending three Tết festivals in California. Lauren Rymer, LIRS’s Assistant Director for Development, will be attending celebrations in San Jose, Garden Grove and Los Angeles while sharing her journey on the LIRS blog.
Check back here frequently to learn and hear Lauren’s reflections on Tết, refugee resettlement and the blessings of beginning a new year in a diverse United States. Take action at LIRS’s Action Center to support the many refugees the United States has resettled and advocate for fair and humane refugee policies.
Finally, for those of you in California, stop by the Tết celebrations, say hello to Lauren at the LIRS booth and let us know you were there. From everyone at LIRS, best wishes for a happy new year!