Voter's Pipeline; The Boat People
And yeah. Yeah. Yeah yeah. The boat people. That's the new name for Southeast Asian refugees. People like the fam doing Family singers who have brought their hopes their heritage and their culture to Warren County since the end of the war enabled 1075 one of the greatest human migrations in history has been taking place. Its direction is from Southeast Asia toward the United States. In this four year period 220000 Southeast Asians have settled in the United States from Vietnam Laos Cambodia Thailand and Malaysia. Ninety three percent are from Vietnam. At first they came by air land but later they escaped by the sea taking incredible risks. They face death in small boats on the high seas piracy disease starvation then shockingly overcrowded refugee camps. Some 400000
more are still in those refugee camps hoping to enter the USA. How the 220000 will be arrived in America. Estimates indicate as many as 100000 have settled and most are in Southern California. John warns the county today has an estimated 23000 of these refugees. Twenty four hundred are arriving every month. The story of the arriving refugees presents a big problem both to the people and to the spirit of the residents of Orange County. We'll talk about this John with our special guest today Bill Brown is president of winnowing enterprises incorporated a film production company and is co-founder and chairman of the board of directors of the committee of conscience a new international organization a former all-American swimmer and American record holder. Bill is a graduate of the USC film school. Father Dalton ha is a Roman Catholic priest and former teacher in South Vietnam. In April 1976 when he was about to be arrested by the communist government he fled the
country in a small fishing boat. He came to the United States in October of 976 and was made the director of the Vietnamese Saharan stand by order of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange. Gayle McGee is the refugee coordinator for the human services agency and has responsibility for coordinating public and private aid programs for refugees arriving in Orange County. Prior to her appointment last July Gail a supervisor for the county refugee program in the Department of Social Services. There's such an enormous problem I have this vision of 400000 refugees still outside of any country. Homeless people people for whom each day is an agony. And then I have the vision of 200 to 20000 living in the United States and most of them in California. I'm wondering what you are trying to do want to national and international level. And it's unique that this group is right from Orange County. We also want to you tell us what you're trying to do to elevate the conscience of the world about this problem.
And I'm glad you used the word conscience because that's that's the key we feel to our program. We would like to act as a conscience that a group that has the ability to say what's right and what's wrong in a very nonpartisan way. On the national and international level really very little is is being done there was the Geneva Convention and there was a lot of talk down there and there were some rather good commitments made on the part of the United States and a few other countries. But basically since then the monsoon season has come out and Vietnam has backed off on its voluntary expulsions or involuntary where they may charge them two or three thousand dollars in gold and force them to flee. And but it will resume again as soon as the weather gets better. And it's like a tea kettle boils up and then it boils down and the pressure goes off on the outside and and then it will come back up on the inside. Specifically the area we're trying to do things in now is the building of a secondary
resettlement camp. Hopefully that will be in southwestern Australia. And at that particular location which is very nearly uninhabited that the people can live in a climate that will help them overcome their tuberculosis problems. They can orderly cleanly and humanely go about the process of being resettled into another land they can learn English if they're coming to the United States or Canada they can learn French if they're going there and it can be a much better organized more structured type situation in a limited a lot of the human misery that's that's going on right now. But that fatherhood experience were that were the voices of outrage are being raised about this problem. Now we're hearing at United Nations who on the international forum place is speaking out against this problem. It's politically touchy here. We found that road if you go back you President Carter and I talk about in this recent trip to Japan and what he
did and that was in the immediate aftermath of Geneva. In that sense and you find a kind of going away there's the communists do not want to acknowledge that this problem exists. In fact Jim Oliver the New Hebrides Islands has an immediate order for 3000 boat people brought there now and there's a priest there. And no offense father who is a communist and he doesn't want them there and he's being very obstructionist. And as as of this point in time no one has been allowed to come into the New Hebrides the communist don't want these people anywhere. Because they're freedom loving people and they know what it's like to live under communism and they don't want to live there where they don't want to live and we have to kind of conditions on it. Maybe you both of you could read reflect a bit about what I hear of people who go through any privation that you can think of in order to escape they want to escape. I've also heard the story that the communists the government now in charge in Vietnam are forcing some of them to leave because they consider them as people who are persona non grata.
So which of the two stories accounts for most of the refugees are the people being forced to leave or a lot of them will risk anything to get out and escape things. Both things are happening I had you happening and approaching actual I thing now companies in Vietnam are frosting. Ethnic Chinese to leave right now because they those who are of Chinese extraction they regard as a risk. But on the other hand a lot of the Vietnamese people don't like don't want to stay and leave. Under the communist rule and that's alright they are trying to escape even if they have to die on the high seas. The incredible risk you are on the receiving end if I could say that what's happening with with your office is happening in many of the other 58 counties in California because California with 100000 of these
refugees 100000 out of the 200 and 20000 seem to like California resettle in California. What does it mean how do you deal with it. What your job is. It's been very difficult to respond with the complete. Resources that we have in human services to a new population that we knew very little about culturally and we had very little language ability. We have been hiring bilingual staff for all of our human service programs as fast as we can especially in this this Proposition 13 era which has been very difficult trying to deliver our services in a culturally appropriate way in a responsible way so that we teach people how to live here in the best way possible which we think is in the best interest of the people of Orange County and of the people who are coming here. How big is your staff that you have to do this is kind of providing the service and that's really
difficult to say because there are an awful lot of people who are dealing with refugees throughout the human services agency but they have other jobs also. Right. Mostly it's quite a large number of staff that is dealing with the financial assistance part of it and the social services part of it. And we have a mixture of bilingual staff and Americans who deal with this on a regular basis. One of the men's problem it must be for people to come here and not only to have language problems but cultural differences. Can you comment a little bit about that. Cultural shock is something that we've long heard a lot about but I think it's probably especially true of this population because they had no settled community to relate to. They had no one here as our other immigrant populations have always had to guide them to explain to them the kinds of things that Americans expected of them. The kinds of ways that they were going to have difficulty
in dealing here. I'd like to read a quote from one of the congressman from California. This is Congressman George Miller of the 7th District in Northern California who just got back from one of these camps and this might be of interest to you Bill. He says during my inspection tour I saw the living conditions which defied the human imagination. People were so crowded that they were actually living on the very edge of existence here because of one situation in which 4000 people were living on less than one acre of land on the side of the hill. Children were playing with rope and sewage water was being taken from contaminated wells and people were crammed into the ill equipped and makeshift hospitals where they were left untreated sometimes for months. Incredible story. Now it's your organization trying to address problems like this. These camps where they're sort of in a limbo they're not in their own country and no No other country has accepted them. Yes very much so. We've sent 6000 pounds of food over to this point with our sister organization in San Francisco. I will be going over there next month with some
other people. In some ways I don't really need to we it's a fact that it's that bad and maybe we don't need another voice saying it's that bad again. But that's the big reason why we need an ultimate resettlement camp or to address the problems that Gail was talking about where they can learn a new language and some of the cultural expectations. What kind of clout what kind of wherewithal do you have to accomplish these objectives. There are a variety of complex ways that this can be done but it's specifically there are tax incentive arrangements that can be handled for a company like Bechtel to go down there and construct a camp that can hold a AGW has earmarked 200 million dollars for construction of the camp to hold a quarter of a million people. Now that that won't handle the whole thing but that's it. Heck of a good start and it could be a camp that is almost self-sustaining but they can farm there they can do a lot of things there. And this is what's really needed to avoid
that that horrible tragedy that you talked about their prolonged camp is about two city blocks and it has 80000 people in it. Incredible to think of that. Now if you were telling me that former President Ford to join your group can you name some of the other people I know when he was going to be with us on this program than able to be here and I just got to what some of the other put very nice letter from President Ford do and we'll be meeting with him probably next week. Ellsworth Bunker and former ambassador to Vietnam has expressed the same kind of feelings. William Rusher and William F. Buckley were trying to have a bipartisan. We're waiting to hear from Ted Kennedy when I was young for a very bipartisan very above board non-pro Kele I guess pro American business. What we are trying to get international support onto to our D to what toward this effort right international support in American business and we think the best thing we can do is show the world that American business at the court in world cooperation can solve the problems.
The Communist menace. I don't want to sound like one of the right wing radicals but but this is this problem is a fallout of communism. It seems to me that we heard an awful lot of other of the problems of so-called invasion of human rights when the war was on people and I worry activists were speaking out about conditions in Vietnam. I don't hear many voices being raised on an international forum place of the plight of the people of the greatest one of the greatest migrations of violations of human rights if you want to call it that that they have ever been heard of the take a million people and tell them they have to get out of their homes and leave everything and throw them in the open sea. That's when the grand Holocaust is right up there with the jewish problem with the overlord who with a Hitler problem. Right now there's been over 3 million people die so many in their own homelands through enforced starvation. The inability of the government to feed its people. I'd like to I'd like to have us look at some pictures we have a couple of pictures that illustrate the people in the boat. For example the people who were in the larger boats know this and this is one of the scenes it was taken
from when we obtained this from Life magazine indicating what people go through to get in these miserable small boats and head out in the open sea particularly in the winter time in Vietnam when the waves are 15 20 feet high off the coast. We have a family that came to Orange County that we're about to talk to and this family is holding up a sign the sign says. Fifteen hundred kilometers in six days and six nights. The family that are on that boat have now come to Orange County and they're living in Santa Ana. And now let's go to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Chen Kwan Trond of Santa Ana. Who will tell us of their experiences with journalists in Saigon South Vietnam. He lived in Orange County for a year and he worked as a draftsman. He escaped his homeland by boat along with his wife and three children. He was six days in a boat with 34 people before he landed in Malaysia. He then went to sink a bar before coming to the United States. What was it that made you want to leave.
Let me know what reason. For what reason. What was the motivation for you and your family to take this terrible risk to go out and vote in the scape. We have a sound reason and the first one we we are anti-communist and the second reason we tried to leave under communist reason but we can't. We live about always a year almost two years. But we cannot try a communist government keep anything and they don't have any democracy for the people. The more so people living there who are already at what was it like in that small boat out there with 34 people going six days fifteen hundred kilometers. Yeah this is very difficult to live in the boat but we try. We we we design and now a new sea bather then tearing the sand under communism.
How do you like living here in Orange County now a new life for you in this past year. What's it like for you in this country yanked inside the home country. This is a big country and there are very. Very very good for resettlement. How about your family are they going to make it. Are they going to do well here. Is it going to be right for you. Yeah. Whole family you know very well but we are very sad because of my parents. Leaving on the comedy scene in the way. What do you hope to do as time goes on. In your time in the future. I hope we can be back with my country. Hoping to go back to his country. Gail I'd like to ask you another question about the reality the nuts and bolts of this thing when people come in and we're supposedly getting 2000 a month or something like that in Orange County. The government gives three hundred fifty dollars allocate three hundred fifty dollars for a refugee under the
existing law. What happened to that three hundred fifty dollars how was it dispersed to the three hundred fifty dollars is given to official resettlement agencies of which there are about eight or nine in the country. Resettlement agencies have been resettling refugees for many many years in this country and they mostly are private organizations that find sponsors and use church organizations to extend their resources or only do the resettlement themselves like the U.S. Catholic Conference here all right. For the International Rescue Committee. Right. And they get so much money per person to find the people home to find someone who can help guide them through the first steps of getting their children enrolled in school learning English learning how to find a job. Those kinds of things in their initial steps and making it in the country. What happened to the three hundred fifty dollars I mean if let's say a family of four comes and they get
to move where they're going to get fourteen hundred dollars. Well what happens with that fourteen hundred dollars is gone. Each resettlement agency uses that money in a different way. So it sometimes goes for administration and programs to help people. I see sometimes the money goes directly to the family for a bit or some of the money may go to the family right. I see of course that is not enough money especially in areas where the cost of living is so high and the housing is so high to do much more than get people located into housing and pay their deposits and and do the and initial part of the resettlement. After that time is with large families it's obvious that people will not be totally. Most people will not be totally self-sufficient in that period of time. So the federal government has provided 100 percent federal support through the welfare system to assist those families while they're learning English and while they're there learning a skill is California.
The California people getting. A disproportionate amount of money because we have a disproportionately large number of people here. You know when we get it. Each person that that is that eligible gets reimbursed that the agency gets reimbursed 100 percent from the federal government. So either you're in an agency that tried to help people get resettled but you have come through that yourself. How do you see the problem what does it really mean for the people who are coming to California. To assimilate to be assimilated into our culture. I think debt dad two categories are people. People leaving in California what are the two guys you have the first one these do well educated ones. And it's going to run just. For peace of mind and. Palmers. Thank you for getting that forward to first Can't of any people. I think they're.
Doing very well. But just the new way of life in America. But put a second one. You took down a few years too and then these kids he was. And. To have a good job to support themselves and the penalties in the second category what are they. How would you characterize those people are they less said not enough people or what Yeah that usually last educate the people. Yes they coming. They come from. Seeing families palming pan moneys and now when they come to these country you know they were they've had very little city life will say yeah but it's a rural life now and it's difficult for them. Yet do you think he's very difficult for them to adjust. Is language a big problem if you had to name two or three problems I guess I should ask both of you to reflect one of the two bigger two or three biggest problems you see.
Now first up on the language and language because in English and then we use a deeper and then we use from the Bynum is in the second one it's a job. Yeah. Finding a job because most people aren't coming to these countries they don't find a suitable job. That they had before coming to this country that they had you know back in Vietnam to find a job. That's like when they come over here they have to go to school. For another job and you take them sometimes. What would you say you know one of the thing you run into the biggest most monumental problem your agency the refugees perceive their lack of English as being the biggest problem that they face. And and as Father Haas said not being able to enter the labor market at the place you previously have worked so hard to achieve and I think that's an important aspect to understand that you may have a 40 year old man with six children who is doing very well in Vietnam and he comes here and he has to start out as if
he were 18 years old. And that's very difficult emotionally as well as practically. And a loss of self esteem and Ross THE FEELING LIKE YOU HAVE YOU have control over your life is a very frightening thing. I saw a figure quoted maybe Bill you've heard this. This one one of the problems. The figure quoted from the human services agency that as high as 60 percent of the refugees have problems of mental depression. That they feel very down cat they have a bad like. Maybe what you say is self esteem. Do you find that too and. I like that can you get a comment on that one. Well there's a lot of truth in that there's in the total realm of the cultural shock that these people are experiencing We've heard stories of babies being scalded in showers because the people have never seen a shower before that would be in the second category of people who talk in that then in the undereducated group. Professor Tang told me he was also a refugee that they would be as hard for me to go to Vietnam or Africa or something like that and try to kill snakes with a rock and live that way.
As it is for many of these people to come to our highly technical business society. Which is another area we're trying to get people all over the world Brazil for example takes in one refugee for every one point two million in population. That's not they're not doing a real good job there. And I tire and United States of course and Canada we take one for every five hundred sixty. Canada I think is one for every 300 and something. Gayle if I'm. Correct France and Austria take more than we do. There is a myth that we are taking all of them that's not the case at all for Brazil specifically wants people to populate the interior of their country. The Interior which is climatologically similar to Vietnam where these people can farm and they can do the things they always had in a safe peaceful country. And maybe that could be done. That's why we're working on it. I know it's one of the things that you have done that your group father has put out this book a simple little book. That makes it possible for people for the enemy's people.
To understand English. It's a simple thing get to say things like can I buy a loaf of bread or I want to go to the store. Where do my children go to school. How do you get the money to put these out. We got the money it from collecting newspapers and cans and used for and on these things and that we can get some money and to preen and prepared these books so we have printed out some copies and we are standing on the. Then on to Southeast Asia. But as you can see. Are you asking for money for dollars for people who are sick or are a support of local people who want to open up their hearts maybe and I know nothing about that yeah. What are you asking for that we would like to ask the people here to help us help. Because you brought us in Southeast Asia by giving us some money so that we may send them magazines.
English textbooks so that they made and then in an envious plan you outwitting over there. And you all you know would you send these little books over there as well as give them to refugees who are here. Yeah we are so when I told you all that I think there are people who will volunteer to help the sponsors to or to help the people that in fact anyone who would like to ask the American people you do sorry I used to sponsor more inefficient just to sponsor more refugees Yeah let's give a phone number for anyone who's interested in reaching your center anyone who wants to get involved in the problem. It's area code 7 1 4 8 9 4 1 2 5 5. That's the Vietnamese center and it's located in Orange County. Area code 7 1 4 8 9 4 1 2 5 5. A lot of people have expressed concern about them coming here some people have said it's a big burden on us it's a big burden on Orange County it's a big burden on L.A. County on San Francisco. All of that refugees coming. Other people have said that it's a good thing for us and I'd like to read a quote from Senator
Clinton and get your reaction. This is from Senator Cranston. We are opening our doors to thousands of people fleeing persecution in Southington the old boat people. America properly will welcome these refugees not only for their sake but for ours. We know that like all the immigrants and exiles who came before them the Indochinese surely will contribute to our national vitality. They will add to the diversity and richness of our lives and the pluralism and dynamism of our society. Are you finding a lot of people thinking that way or are you encountering people who are also. Disenchanted with the people who are coming. Who wants to answer that one. I agree with Senator Cranston for one of the earlier times in my life. There are there is a very definitely a group of people who are opposed to any influx of any people into this country especially people from that far away. It seems that distance is a problem too it's always around and inside the world when we win and that's a chapter of our life we want to forget about.
So you have to have some hostility of people saying keep them out we don't want them here. We encountered some of that too. You know it's a new population it's a new problem a lot of people see it as an additional problem that we have to deal with. And it's very difficult for a lot of people in their daily lives to see the benefit of adding another dimension to our community into our culture. You have people that are doing a good job. People who work here too. You have people who are helpful. Given that we have a lot of American people who have been helping us or have come here and we're going to come here tour ok because he does a great job and I thought supporting our time is almost up now and I want to thank you for all sharing with us on a problem that concerns our people in California. This is a special program for public television on the problems of the assimilation of the South Vietnamese the North Vietnamese and Southeast Asian people into our culture in California.
- Voter's Pipeline
- The Boat People
- Producing Organization
- PBS SoCaL
- Contributing Organization
- PBS SoCal (Costa Mesa, California)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This episode of Voter's Pipeline looks at the growing number of refugees from Vietnam who are now in the United States and more specifically in Orange County.
- Other Description
- Voter's Pipeline is a talk show hosted by Jim Cooper and featuring conversations with politicians and experts about local and state politics.
- Talk Show
- Copyright 1979
- Media type
- Moving Image
Director: Johnson, Kent
Guest: Brown, Bill
Guest: Ha, Do Thanah
Guest: Magee, Gail
Host: Cooper, Jim
Producing Organization: PBS SoCaL
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: AACIP_0062 (AACIP 2011 Label #)
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- Chicago: “Voter's Pipeline; The Boat People,” PBS SoCal, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 3, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-221-053ffh76.
- MLA: “Voter's Pipeline; The Boat People.” PBS SoCal, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 3, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-221-053ffh76>.
- APA: Voter's Pipeline; The Boat People. Boston, MA: PBS SoCal, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-221-053ffh76