Vietnamese Americans

Americans of Vietnamese descent

Vietnamese Americans are Americans of Vietnamese ancestry. They make up about half of all overseas Vietnamese and are the fourth-largest Asian American ethnic group. The Vietnamese community in the United States was minimal until the South Vietnamese immigration to the country following the Vietnam War which ended in 1975. Early immigrants were refugee boat people, loyal to South Vietnam in the conflict who fled political persecution or sought economic opportunities. More than half of Vietnamese Americans reside in the two most populous states of California and Texas, primarily their large urban areas.

Parade marchers with South Vietnamese flags: three horizontal red stripes on a gold background
Vietnamese Americans marching with the South Vietnamese flag during Tết


  • Large-scale Vietnamese migration to the United States started as an influx of refugees following the end of the war. Early arrivals consisted largely of military personnel and urban professionals (and their families) who worked with the U.S. military or the South Vietnamese government. The next wave of Vietnamese refugees, known as “boat people,” arrived in the late 1970s. Most of these refugees came from rural areas and were often less educated. Many of the Vietnamese refugees who arrived between 1983 and 2004 were initially resettled in states with large immigrant populations, including California, Texas, and Washington State.
  • While California remains the state with the largest Vietnamese population, the percentage of Vietnamese living in California decreased during the 1990s. The downward trend of the electronics industry in which many Vietnamese were employed, coupled with unaffordable housing, prompted the departures. Economic growth in places like Texas, Florida and Louisiana attracted a great number of Vietnamese.
  • In San Jose, the new Vietnamese community was bolstered by access to Asian markets in the area, that had already been established by other immigrant families from Asia. In this way, the Vietnamese community developed less as an enclave and more as an integrated, borderless part of the larger San Jose area.
Tết Festival in Little Saigon, Orange County, California
  • But many first-generation Vietnamese were already conservative to begin with. Having left behind a communist-led country, they may be averse to liberal politics, deeply religious, and invested in the idea of the American dream. Guided by a tide of Vietnamese- and English-language misinformation, however, these radical right-wing views are now quietly held by a not-so-insignificant minority — and are often left to younger, more progressive family members to challenge and dismantle.
  • Even in Orange County, among the Vietnamese American voters who have long been a part of the Republican coalition, the GOP has been losing ground. After an election year in which AAPI voters turned out across the nation in record numbers, there is greater urgency than ever for the party to rethink its approach.

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