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VIETNAM “BOAT PEOPLE”: Should the United States Admit More Vietnamese Refugees after the Vietnam War?
When communists took power after the Vietnam War ended in 1975, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people fled their country, most of them by boat. Many hoped to settle in the United States, which had been involved in the war for more than a decade. The plight of the “boat people” drew international attention, sparking intense debate over how many of them should be permitted to come to the United States. Opponents of admitting more of them argued that the nation was in the midst of a deep recession and couldn’t handle a large influx of new people. Most of the boat people weren’t refugees, they contended, but “economic migrants,” or people fleeing their homeland not for political reasons but to escape poverty. Supporters of admitting more boat people argued that the United States had a moral obligation to let in the Vietnamese, who had fought alongside U.S. troops against the communists during the war. They further argued that, if the boat people were merely economic migrants, they would not have set out on such a dangerous journey, during which as many as 60 percent of them died.
Let your students get the facts and decide for themselves: Should the United States admit more “boat people” after the Vietnam War? Be sure to check out Issues & Controversies in American History’s clear and unbiased examination of the Vietnamese boat people this month.
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