The Public Interest

Refugee resettlement: the infighting in Washington

Amitai Etzioni

Fall 1981

IN early 1979 the Carter administration found itself facing a refugee crisis as mounting political tensions throughout Southeast Asia increased the number of people seeking asylum in America. Refugees began arriving in the spring of 1975 after the collapse of noncommunist regimes in Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. The flow subsided somewhat until 1978, when renewed fighting generated a new wave of refugees. Thousands of ethnic Chinese fled Vietnam after the war erupted between Vietnam and China in 1979, and Vietnamese expansion also created a new flow of refugees from Laos and Cambodia into Thailand.

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