Refugees into Immigrants: Assessing the Adjustment of Southeast Asian Refugees in the U. S., 1975-1990

  • K. Bruce Newbold School of Geography and Geology, McMaster University Hamilton, Ontario


Embodying a differential set of skills, refugees experience varying obstacles and reception upon entry into their host country. Starting in 1975, the U.S. received large numbers of refugees from Southeast Asia. Although these arrivals are no longer labeled as ‘refugees’, their initial immigration status raises interesting questions, including whether or not they match the attainment of those who arrived in the U.S. at the same time. Using the 1980 and 1990 Public Use Microdata Files (PUMS), this paper traces the adaptation of post-1975 Southeast Asians within the U.S. through the lens of segmented assimilation. Refugee flows are disaggregated into Sino-Vietnamese, Ethnic-Vietnamese, Hmong, Cambodians, and Laotian identities and contrasted to Chinese immigrants.