At the end of the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese and Cambodians fled political chaos and physical danger in their homelands. Between 1975 and 1979, some 300,000 of these refugees were admitted to the United States through Presidential action. The law at the time restricted refugee admissions, and many members of Congress wanted to establish a more regular system of immigration and resettlement.
The Refugee Act of 1980 raised the annual ceiling for refugees to 50,000, created a process for reviewing and adjusting the refugee ceiling to meet emergencies, and required annual consultation between Congress and the President. The law changed the definition of “refugee” to a person with a “well-founded fear of persecution,” a standard established by United Nations conventions and protocols. It also funded a new Office of U.S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs and an Office of Refugee Resettlement and built on already existing public-private partnerships that helped refugees settle and adjust to life in their new country.
View all pages of the Refugee Act of 1980 on the National Archives’ Flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usnationalarchives/sets/72157661462319371
8 thoughts on “Making Room for Those in Danger”
Very timely article. It usually takes a historian to make the world stop and reflect. Thank you for posting this.
Thank you so much for exhibiting and posting these documents and photos; good to remember our nation’s actions at that very difficult time.
So glad that you posted this. It should remind some of us about our history. I don’t know that this will change many minds.
Thanks David, great timing. Time to cut the hysteria. As part of a family that was interred in Arkansas before I joined it, I am only too cognisant of the lifetime scars of this sort of discrimination.
Thank you. I could have read this and continued on to something else, but I feel so strongly about this. I wish there was something I could do to help people see how important it is to help these poor people. T
hen I realized that a simple thank you can help spur you on and perhaps help other readers to do even a small thing, like this. If each person did even a small thing it would add up to a monumental thing. Again thank you for this post.
Immigrants and refugees made the U.S. what it is today. It is important to help anyone we can and especially if we were responsible for their becoming refugees in the first place. Another long tradition in the U.S. was a non-interventionist foreign policy.
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