We’ve welcomed refugees before

August 17th, 2021 by Ken

We’ve seen it all before.  The mess in Afghanistan is almost an echo of South Vietnam.

We’ve also seen the distribution of refugees from Vietnam just like we will soon see the refugees from Afghanistan.  I don’t know if its been made official, but the Puget Sound area will shortly see hundreds of Afghanistan refugees living in our communities.

A flashback to the 1970’s, when Vietnamese refugees were huddled in camps all along Southeast Asia.  The federal  government was looking for place to put them.  Washington State’s Governor Dan Evans opened up the state borders and welcome thousands of Vietnamese to take up home in The Evergreen State.

Some social service agencies helped them find a place to live and provided a source of income.  So did dozens of churches and other private agencies to help them get re-settled.

On my street here in Lacey, we had two Vietnamese families on our block.  The parents, many of whom were highly educated took on menial jobs as laborers, janitors and gardeners to support their families.  Their children were going to have a better life than the parents.  And they did.

Vietnamese children entered our school systems, studied hard, supported by the labor of their parents, and the support of the community.   This second generation had college degrees and and went on to high-paying jobs and were an important part of the American mainstream.   The third generation was completely Americanized.

Now comes the Afghanistan refugees.  Soon to move into our neighborhoods and needing similar support to assimilate into American culture.

I have no doubt they will do so.

America is a country of refugees.   It has been since the beginning and it continues to be so today.

And, American citizens, some removed by only a generation or two from their immigrant grandparents, will assist these new residents in adapting and eventually becoming admired and appreciated citizens.

We’ve seen the immigrant story play out before.  We’ve seen it right here in Thurston County.  And, we’ll soon see it again.  It’s a shame that it had to come like this, but we’ve also seen that story before.

We’ll adapt and accept our new residents.  We’ve done it before.

Posted in The Real News


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