April 16, 2003

Victims of the System

Asian American Empowerment: ModelMinority.com - The Quiet Americans. Quite an interesting article purporting that the victims of welfare reform may not be those who you may automatically assume. This is an old article written in January 8, 2003, but still an interesting read. Looking at a distinct region in America, Chris Thompson writes about the minorities who have fallen by the wayside in Alameda County, CA. Asian refugees top the list of racial groups losing their welfare benefits. Writing about three anecdotal stories of Vietnamese-Americans, Chris writes a passionate piece about how the American system has: 1) allowed these refugees to come to our shores, while 2) neglecting the true investments required to make these refugees strong contributing members of society.

What the article fails to investigate, is the true influence that of years living in Vietnam has contributed to these individuals' situations. Certainly, the idleness experienced by many in Vietnam, due to the lack of jobs, is a large contributing factor in the work ethic of new American immigrants. The individuals profiled in this story gives new meaning to the saying, "can't teach an old dog new tricks." While not as dire as the cliche states, these individuals are clearly older, and will require much more time to assimilate into US society, and will need much more time to learn the new language and to learn new skills. But, nonetheless, they must keep at it and practice their new skills. If it means situating themselves in communities where the dominant language is not Vietnamese, then so be it.

Many new refugees suffer in the current welfare system because of abuses made by refugees and welfare clients in the past--this fact cannot be ignored, and was in the article. Just because we can find some individuals who are "victims" of our neglect in the welfare system, does not mean that the entire reform is a failure--eventually, something had to be done to address the years of abuses. Lastly, I will end with this one question: is it better to be struggling to make ends meet here in the U.S. or to be destined for nothingness in the old country? You always have the opportunity to go back, I know many who wish it so.

Posted by johnvu at April 16, 2003 07:40 PM
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