"Syrian refugees will take American jobs if we let them in." "They are terrorists." "It will cost too much to resettle them." "They have a foreign culture and can't assimilate to American society."

This is the reaction of many American politicians and much of the US public to the idea of taking in more refugees who are fleeing for their lives from what UN and other international observers are calling the worst refugee crisis since WW2. But haven't we heard this all before?

We have heard it all before, about one of the most successful US immigrant groups in modern times - the Vietnamese "boat people" who settled in large numbers in America after the Vietnam war ended in 1975. That year, Republican President Gerald Ford sought to admit up to 150,000 Vietnamese refugees. In 1977, Democratic President Jimmy Carter sought to let in 100,000.

This was strongly opposed by then California Democratic governor Jerry Brown, who argued that they would take jobs away from Americans. Opinion polls at that time showed that most of the public agreed with Governor Brown.

A majority of Americans also thought that Vietnamese refugees would not learn to speak English and they would go on welfare, just as many are saying about Syrians now.

Sure, everyone knows that Syrian immigrants have no business skills - just as Steve Jobs, the child of a Syrian immigrant father, had no talent for business.

Even the canard that the Syrian refugees, who are fleeing from Assad's Russian supported governmental terror, not to mention the ISIS butchers, are closet terrorists themselves, had its counterpart in public opinion regarding the Vietnamese, who were being accused of being Communist infiltrators.

This may seem somewhat quaint now, but 40 years ago, after America had just lost a major war to Communism in Vietnam, it was something that many Americans took very seriously.

And what about all those Vietnamese who were supposed to go on welfare? They became one of America's most prosperous, successful middle-class immigrant groups instead.

See: Hao Nhien Vu Opposition to Syrian refugees reveals a familiar pattern (September 21)


Anyone who thinks there is something new or different about the Syrian refugee crisis as far as American attitudes toward accepting refugees is concerned is showing a blind eye to America's recent history.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 30 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants obtain work visas, green cards and US citizenship.

His practice is focused primarily on H-1B, O-1 and L-1 work visas, J-1 training visas; and green cards through labor certification, extraordinary ability and opposite sex or same sex marriage.

Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com