Sound Stories. Sound Voices.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You are on the KUOW archive site. Click here to go to our current site.
As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

These Vietnamese-Americans see themselves in today's refugees

KUOW Photo/Caroline Chamberlain
Jefferey Vu and Tuan Vu at Westlake Park

Thousands protested in downtown Seattle last night against President Donald Trump's executive orders on immigration and refugees.

In the huge crowd were people who know firsthand what it's like to be forced to flee your country.

A couple of young Vietnamese-American protesters joined the demonstration to reflect on their own immigrant stories. Tuan Vu moved here when he was 8, and he felt a sense of duty to attend yesterday's demonstration.

"My parents were immigrants, and back where they’re from, this wasn’t allowed," he said.

Previously he was not politically involved, but that changed after President Trump won the election. "I remember my mom asking me like, 'Do you think Trump’s going to get elected?' And I was like, 'No, I don’t think so.' And just being really wrong, really shook me." 

Jefferey Vu was also in the crowd, and he said the current political climate has been difficult for some in the Vietnamese community. Republican leaders such as Sen. John McCain and former Washington Gov. Dan Evans stood up for Vietnamese refugees at the end of the Vietnam War.

"A lot of Vietnamese people look up to the Republicans historically because the Republicans were anti-communists, the Republicans fought for the immigrants and the refugees from the war to come to America."

In light of Trump's executive order, Vu said he’d like to remind Trump of what the U.S. did for families like his: "Forty-one years ago, America opened its doors to 1.3 million war refugees from an American conflict, and what happened yesterday they couldn’t open their doors to at least in Seattle to 13 refugees and immigrants. But the reins of power have changed and we have to remind them this is not what America is."

This past election year has marked the first time both men have become politically active.