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From: Maria Graham
Re: Thomas Allen's Column: Why More Vietnamese Refugees Thirty Years After The War? Because There's Money In It, Stupid
My husband and I have adopted children from Vietnam and have an on-going interest in that country's progress.
Nine years ago when I traveled to Southeast Asia to bring home my children, I was stunned by Vietnam's poverty.
When I visited a Catholic Convent and Orphanage, I was further shocked to learn that not one American (public or private) cent had been donated to this facility located as an oasis in the midst of the teeming Ho Chi Minh City.
Our family contributed to the Sisters over the years and took on additional responsibility by sponsoring a young boy so that he could stay in school. Mind you, $240 a year keeps him in school.
You might think that is what school costs but it's not for his tuition and books. The money is to help support his family so that he doesn't have to work at age twelve. Such a small sum goes far in Vietnam.
About a year ago, my daughter and I thought we might find funding for needy Vietnamese. We contacted a major Catholic international charity but we came away disappointed by a complete lack of interest in our proposal. As far as I know, there is still no American support of any kind (beyond our small contribution) to this Catholic Convent.
Yet, as pointed out by Allen, the U.S. taxpayer is going to spend millions and millions to bring so-called refugees from Vietnam to the US.
It's astounding! My teenage daughter returned last week from a seven-week visit to her extended family and to the Catholic orphanage. She told me that economically things in Vietnam are picking up. Interestingly, we expected she would be mobbed with entreaties for invitations to the US but during her stay no one approached her about how to get to America.
Although Vietnam remains a poor country, my daughter reported that people's spirits are high and they are proud of the beauty, historic sites and their country's culture.
Since we have normalized relations with Vietnam, anyone interested in coming to America can now just apply through the normal immigration process. They don't need to come as refugees.
I don't get it. Who are the refugees? Surely we aren't planning to drain the country of its best and brightest just at the point when Vietnam needs to keep its people with entrepreneurial spirit. Instead, the U.S. wants to scoop up those with the drive and ambition to reform their country.
Taking talented Vietnamese out of their country and transplanting them the U.S. does nothing for Vietnam.
If you want to help people who would rather stay in Vietnam than be displaced in America, then contribute directly them.
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