Chapters 13 & 14

The Lees were finally allowed to bring Lia home, but just so that she could be comfortable in her predicted last few days of her life. This was not done because of the increased trust, but rather the belief that Lia would not live long enough for the trip to be detrimental. She beat her odds by 26 years.

The next chapter delved further into the horrible conditions under which the Hmong immigrated, and the support that was only initially provided. The promised welfare turned out to be for a limited period of time, beyond which, the Hmong were expected to work in order to feed their significantly large families. However, Hmong men and women were not skilled enough even for the lowest paying jobs, and their inability to speak English only worsened their situation. This meant, that their youngest members who were able to adjust to the changing environment faster were often seen as the head of the family, toppling the century old power dynamic. Not only was the situation financially detrimental, but also socially, and mentally.

I think it is easy to sit behind a pen and criticize past efforts, but I honestly could not think of a way in which the immigrating party does not make a huge sacrifice. While the established social contact of the Hmong can be appreciated, I understand not harboring the entire population in a single state, since clearly, many of the states were not equipped to handle such a large foreign population. Placing them in isolated rural environments may not have been the best idea, but the expectation of being placed all together, would be a far reach. I thought of how this would be handled today, and wondered if the assimilation classes offered which would slowly ease the Hmong into the American life would be helpful. But I do not think so. The Hmong hold on to their culture and they do not want assimilation, rather just their own land at a mountaintop. I appreciate this sentiment, and I understand the need for it, but as refugees, a utopian expectation may have been irrational.

What affected me most was the idea that families could not even get jobs because of the minimal training and the additional ridicule that the media bestowed upon them. While I can side with the US on not being sensitive to the social dynamic of the Hmong and how that could change in a family, the social pressure by the Americans should have been seen as unwarranted and punished. This was an aspect that could be controlled by the government, and even if the Hmong were not eligible for veteran benefits, they could have at least been given the veteran social status.

As stated before, I cannot reason out a better way to do this now. I think that families were kept together, which is apparently a rarity nowadays, they were given a home, and free medical care. I do not know if any of those are commodities that are given to asylum seekers today, assuming they are even let in.

Published by