Sunday, May 29, 2011



For Immediate Release:
Contact: Genie Nguyen
May 29, 2011


Memorial Day gives all Americans the opportunity to honor those who have laid their lives on the line to serve our country. VVA joins all Americans in proudly standing up for America’s fallen soldiers today to pay tribute to their commitment and service to this great nation. They served and fought on behalf of our freedom and our security.

Generations of Vietnamese Americans found their way to America to rebuild their lives in a land of freedom, opportunity and other cherished values, and today, we express our greatest respects to our nation’s bravest soldiers who served to defend and preserve these values for all Americans.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans stands in solidarity with our soldiers to promote, protect, and defend the American values: that of democracy, liberty, and equal justice for all.

Together with all Americans, Voice of Vietnamese Americans and its members extend our deepest gratitude to all active troops, veterans and America’s fallen soldiers from across the country for their admirable commitment to our nation.


The mission of Voice of Vietnamese Americans is to empower Vietnamese Americans by promoting civic engagement through community organizing and capacity building. Voice of Vietnamese Americans enhances, defends, and protects the American core values of human rights, civil rights, democracy, liberty, and justice for all.


VVA Radio Message May 23 - President Obama starts his trip visting Europe and attending G8 Conference - VVA interviews Tina Pham about Nail Salons


Do Voice of Vietnamese Americans phụ trách
Thứ Hai 23 tháng 5, 2011 – 04:00pm EST

Audio file này chỉ có hiệu lực đến hết ngày Thứ Hai 30 tháng 5. Xin vui lòng tải xuống nếu muốn giừ lại. Xin cảm ơn.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

President Obama at 2011 AIPAC Policy Conference


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 22, 2011
Remarks by the President at the AIPAC Policy Conference 2011

Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Washington, D.C.

10:56 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Good morning. Thank you. Thank you so much. Please, have a seat. Thank you.

What a remarkable, remarkable crowd. Thank you, Rosy, for your very kind introduction. I did not know you played basketball. (Laughter.) I will take your word for it. (Laughter.) Rosy, thank you for your many years of friendship. Back in Chicago, when I was just getting started in national politics, I reached out to a lot of people for advice and counsel, and Rosy was one of the very first. When I made my first visit to Israel, after entering the Senate, Rosy, you were at my side every step of that profound journey through the Holy Land. So I want to thank you for your enduring friendship, your leadership, and for your warm introduction today.

I also want to thank David Victor, Howard Kohr and all the board of directors. And let me say that it is wonderful to look out and see so many great friends, including a very large delegation from Chicago. (Applause.) Alan Solow, Howard Green. Thank you all.

I want to thank the members of Congress who are joining you today -- who do so much to sustain the bonds between the United States and Israel, including Eric Cantor -- (applause) -- Steny Hoyer -- (applause) -- and the tireless leader I was proud to appoint as the new chair of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. (Applause.)

We’re joined by Israel’s representative to the United States, Ambassador Michael Oren. (Applause.) And we’re joined by one of my top advisors on Israel and the Middle East for the past four years and who I know is going to be an outstanding ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro. (Applause.) Dan has always been a close and trusted advisor and friend, and I know that he will do a terrific job.

And at a time when so many young people around the world are standing up and making their voices heard, I also want to acknowledge all the college students from across the country who are here today. (Applause.) No one has a greater stake in the outcome of events that are unfolding today than your generation, and it’s inspiring to see you devote your time and energy to help shape that future.

Now, I’m not here to subject you to a long policy speech. I gave one on Thursday in which I said that the United States sees the historic changes sweeping the Middle East and North Africa as a moment of great challenge, but also a moment of opportunity for greater peace and security for the entire region, including the State of Israel.

On Friday, I was joined at the White House by Prime Minister Netanyahu, and we reaffirmed -- (applause) -- we reaffirmed that fundamental truth that has guided our presidents and prime ministers for more than 60 years -- that even while we may at times disagree, as friends sometimes will, the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable -- (applause) -- and the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is ironclad. (Applause.)

A strong and secure Israel is in the national security interest of the United States not simply because we share strategic interests, although we do both seek a region where families and children can live free from the threat of violence. It’s not simply because we face common dangers, although there can be no denying that terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons are grave threats to both our nations.

America’s commitment to Israel’s security flows from a deeper place -- and that’s the values we share. As two people who struggled to win our freedom against overwhelming odds, we understand that preserving the security for which our forefathers -- and foremothers -- fought must be the work of every generation. As two vibrant democracies, we recognize that the liberties and freedoms we cherish must be constantly nurtured. And as the nation that recognized the State of Israel moments after its independence, we have a profound commitment to its survival as a strong, secure homeland for the Jewish people. (Applause.)

We also know how difficult that search for security can be, especially for a small nation like Israel living in a very tough neighborhood. I’ve seen it firsthand. When I touched my hand against the Western Wall and placed my prayer between its ancient stones, I thought of all the centuries that the children of Israel had longed to return to their ancient homeland. When I went to Sderot and saw the daily struggle to survive in the eyes of an eight-year-old boy who lost his leg to a Hamas rocket, and when I walked among the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, I was reminded of the existential fear of Israelis when a modern dictator seeks nuclear weapons and threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the map -- face of the Earth.

Because we understand the challenges Israel faces, I and my administration have made the security of Israel a priority. It’s why we’ve increased cooperation between our militaries to unprecedented levels. It’s why we’re making our most advanced technologies available to our Israeli allies. (Applause.) It’s why, despite tough fiscal times, we’ve increased foreign military financing to record levels. (Applause.) And that includes additional support –- beyond regular military aid -– for the Iron Dome anti-rocket system. (Applause.) A powerful example of American-Israeli cooperation -- a powerful example of American-Israeli cooperation which has already intercepted rockets from Gaza and helped saved Israeli lives. So make no mistake, we will maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge. (Applause.)

You also see our commitment to our shared security in our determination to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. (Applause.) Here in the United States, we’ve imposed the toughest sanctions ever on the Iranian regime. (Applause.) At the United Nations, under our leadership, we’ve secured the most comprehensive international sanctions on the regime, which have been joined by allies and partners around the world. Today, Iran is virtually cut off from large parts of the international financial system, and we’re going to keep up the pressure. So let me be absolutely clear –- we remain committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. (Applause.)

Its illicit nuclear program is just one challenge that Iran poses. As I said on Thursday, the Iranian government has shown its hypocrisy by claiming to support the rights of protesters while treating its own people with brutality. Moreover, Iran continues to support terrorism across the region, including providing weapons and funds to terrorist organizations. So we will continue to work to prevent these actions, and we will stand up to groups like Hezbollah, who exercise political assassination and seek to impose their will through rockets and car bombs.

You also see our commitment to Israel’s security in our steadfast opposition to any attempt to de-legitimize the State of Israel. (Applause.) As I said at the United Nations last year, “Israel’s existence must not be a subject for debate,” and “efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States.” (Applause.)

So when the Durban Review Conference advanced anti-Israel sentiment, we withdrew. In the wake of the Goldstone Report, we stood up strongly for Israel’s right to defend itself. (Applause.) When an effort was made to insert the United Nations into matters that should be resolved through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, we vetoed it. (Applause.)

And so, in both word and deed, we have been unwavering in our support of Israel’s security. (Applause.) And it is precisely because of our commitment to Israel’s long-term security that we have worked to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians. (Applause.)

Now, I have said repeatedly that core issues can only be negotiated in direct talks between the parties. (Applause.) And I indicated on Thursday that the recent agreement between Fatah and Hamas poses an enormous obstacle to peace. (Applause.) No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction. (Applause.) And we will continue to demand that Hamas accept the basic responsibilities of peace, including recognizing Israel’s right to exist and rejecting violence and adhering to all existing agreements. (Applause.) And we once again call on Hamas to release Gilad Shalit, who has been kept from his family for five long years. (Applause.)

And yet, no matter how hard it may be to start meaningful negotiations under current circumstances, we must acknowledge that a failure to try is not an option. The status quo is unsustainable. And that is why on Thursday I stated publicly the principles that the United States believes can provide a foundation for negotiations toward an agreement to end the conflict and all claims -- the broad outlines of which have been known for many years, and have been the template for discussions between the United States, Israel, and the Palestinians since at least the Clinton administration.

I know that stating these principles -- on the issues of territory and security -- generated some controversy over the past few days. (Laughter.) I wasn’t surprised. I know very well that the easy thing to do, particularly for a President preparing for reelection, is to avoid any controversy. I don’t need Rahm to tell me that. Don’t need Axelrod to tell me that. But I said to Prime Minister Netanyahu, I believe that the current situation in the Middle East does not allow for procrastination. I also believe that real friends talk openly and honestly with one another. (Applause.) So I want to share with you some of what I said to the Prime Minister.

Here are the facts we all must confront. First, the number of Palestinians living west of the Jordan River is growing rapidly and fundamentally reshaping the demographic realities of both Israel and the Palestinian Territories. This will make it harder and harder -- without a peace deal -- to maintain Israel as both a Jewish state and a democratic state.

Second, technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself in the absence of a genuine peace.

Third, a new generation of Arabs is reshaping the region. A just and lasting peace can no longer be forged with one or two Arab leaders. Going forward, millions of Arab citizens have to see that peace is possible for that peace to be sustained.

And just as the context has changed in the Middle East, so too has it been changing in the international community over the last several years. There’s a reason why the Palestinians are pursuing their interests at the United Nations. They recognize that there is an impatience with the peace process, or the absence of one, not just in the Arab World -- in Latin America, in Asia, and in Europe. And that impatience is growing, and it’s already manifesting itself in capitals around the world.

And those are the facts. I firmly believe, and I repeated on Thursday, that peace cannot be imposed on the parties to the conflict. No vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state. And the United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations or in any international forum. (Applause.) Israel’s legitimacy is not a matter for debate. That is my commitment; that is my pledge to all of you. (Applause.)

Moreover, we know that peace demands a partner –- which is why I said that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with Palestinians who do not recognize its right to exist. (Applause.) And we will hold the Palestinians accountable for their actions and for their rhetoric. (Applause.)

But the march to isolate Israel internationally -- and the impulse of the Palestinians to abandon negotiations –- will continue to gain momentum in the absence of a credible peace process and alternative. And for us to have leverage with the Palestinians, to have leverage with the Arab States and with the international community, the basis for negotiations has to hold out the prospect of success. And so, in advance of a five-day trip to Europe in which the Middle East will be a topic of acute interest, I chose to speak about what peace will require.

There was nothing particularly original in my proposal; this basic framework for negotiations has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations. Since questions have been raised, let me repeat what I actually said on Thursday -- not what I was reported to have said.

I said that the United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps -- (applause) -- so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself –- by itself -– against any threat. (Applause.) Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. (Applause.) And a full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign and non-militarized state. (Applause.) And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated. (Applause.)

Now, that is what I said. And it was my reference to the 1967 lines -- with mutually agreed swaps -- that received the lion’s share of the attention, including just now. And since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” means.

By definition, it means that the parties themselves -– Israelis and Palestinians -– will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. (Applause.) That’s what mutually agreed-upon swaps means. It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. (Applause.) It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides. The ultimate goal is two states for two people: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people -- (applause) -- and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people -- each state in joined self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace. (Applause.)

If there is a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance. What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. I’ve done so because we can’t afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace. (Applause.) The world is moving too fast. The world is moving too fast. The extraordinary challenges facing Israel will only grow. Delay will undermine Israel’s security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve.

Now, I know that some of you will disagree with this assessment. I respect that. And as fellow Americans and friends of Israel, I know we can have this discussion.

Ultimately, it is the right and the responsibility of the Israeli government to make the hard choices that are necessary to protect a Jewish and democratic state for which so many generations have sacrificed. (Applause.) And as a friend of Israel, I’m committed to doing our part to see that this goal is realized. And I will call not just on Israel, but on the Palestinians, on the Arab States, and the international community to join us in this effort, because the burden of making hard choices must not be Israel’s alone. (Applause.)

But even as we do all that’s necessary to ensure Israel’s security, even as we are clear-eyed about the difficult challenges before us, and even as we pledge to stand by Israel through whatever tough days lie ahead, I hope we do not give up on that vision of peace. For if history teaches us anything, if the story of Israel teaches us anything, it is that with courage and resolve, progress is possible. Peace is possible.

The Talmud teaches us that, “So long as a person still has life, they should never abandon faith.” And that lesson seems especially fitting today.

For so long as there are those across the Middle East and beyond who are standing up for the legitimate rights and freedoms which have been denied by their governments, the United States will never abandon our support for those rights that are universal.

And so long as there are those who long for a better future, we will never abandon our pursuit of a just and lasting peace that ends this conflict with two states living side by side in peace and security. This is not idealism; it is not naïveté. It is a hard-headed recognition that a genuine peace is the only path that will ultimately provide for a peaceful Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people and a Jewish state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. (Applause.) That is my goal, and I look forward to continuing to work with AIPAC to achieve that goal.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you.

11:21 P.M. EDT


2011 AAPI Summit - May 24 /25

2011 AAPI Summit

The 2011 Asian American and Pacific Islander Summit will be taking place on May 24-25th in Washington, D.C.

RSVP here

Confirmed Congressional Speakers Include:

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
Rep. Judy Chu (CA-32), CAPAC Chair
Senator Daniel K. Akaka (HI)
Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA-31)
Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (GU)
Rep. Hansen Clarke (MI-13)
Rep. John Conyers (MI-14)
Rep. Eni Faleomavaega (AS)
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1)
Rep. Mazie Hirono (HI-2)
Rep. Al Green (TX-9)
Rep. Mike Honda (CA-15)
Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-9)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-16)
Rep. Laura Richardson (CA-37)
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34)
Rep. Bobby Scott (VA-3)
Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-12)
Rep. David Wu (OR-1)


Day 1: 5/24/2011
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
HVC-215, U.S. Capitol Visitor Center
12:30 PM – 1:00 PM Registration
1:00 PM – 2:20 PM Opening Ceremony
2:30 PM – 3:10 PM Education Panel
3:20 PM – 4:00 PM Healthcare Panel

Day 2:
9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
HVC-215, U.S. Capitol Visitor Center

9:00 AM – 9:40 AM Economic Development
and Housing Panel
9:50 AM – 10:30 AM Civil Rights Panel
10:30 AM – 11:10 AM Immigration Panel
11:15 AM – 12:00 PM Closing Ceremony


Sunday, May 15, 2011

VVA participated in the First Launch of Southeast Asian Indochinese American Heritage at the Library of Congress on May 14


From left to right:
First row (sitting): Diane Vy Nguyen-Vu, Anh Vu Sawyer, XuanLan Nguyen, Genie Giao Nguyen, Bounheng Inversin, Mali Phonpadith,
Second row: Brigitte Le, Xai Souphom, Dr. Hoi Dao, Prof. Bich Nguyen, Dr. Franklin Odo, Dr. Sovan Tun, Diane Hibino, Khiet Dang, Vinh Nguyen
Third row: Hoan Dang, Long Nguyen, Lynn,

On May 14, to celebrate the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, Voice of Vietnamese Americans participated in the First Launch to Archive Southeast Asian Indochinese American Heritage at the Library of Congress, Asian Division.

The event was hosted by the Asian Division, the Library of Congress, in collaboration with Community Leaders of the Cambodian Americans, Hmong Americans, Laotian Americans, and Vietnamese Americans. It also received participation of many Indochinese American writers, poet, and musicians.

Dr. Franklin Odo, Chief of Asian Division, Library of Congress, gave the Opening Remarks in recognition of many community leaders he has worked with throughout the years. Dr. Franklin Odo is a very well respected scholar specialized in Asian studies. He was a professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawai’i.

The President's appointed to White House Initiative on AAPI Commission, Commissioner Duoa Thor, a Hmong refugee who has worked tirelessly to advocate for the Southeast Asian Indochinese Community, gave the keynote speech, emphasizing the important role of Indochinese Americans in making our voice heard, be responsive to the social political landscape where we are a part of, and to contribute back to the community as much as we can.


Following Commissioner Doua Thor, the first panel, moderated by Khiet Dang, presented a general overview of Southeast Asian Indochinese American Communities through the lenses of 4 community leaders:

1. Dr. Sovan Tun from the Cambodian American Community: Presented the important role of Buddhism and the Buddhist Pagoda in supporting the community.

2. Nou Vang from the Hmong American Community: Presented the significant transition of the Hmong community from needy refugees to responsible citizens.

3. Bounhen Inversin from the Lao American Community: Presented the special roles of Laotian Women in the life of Laotian Americans.

4. Prof. Bich Nguyen from the Vietnamese American Community: Presented the overview of Vietnamese Community from 1975 - 2011.

5. Hoan Dang, President and CEO of HDI Optimum, Inc.: Presented his view of a 1.5 generation: that of an American who is a descendant of Vietnamese heritage. Hoan has actively participated in serving the American communities through boys couting, volunteering in different civic services and advocacy works. Most recently, he ran for a seat in the Maryland House of Representatives when he realized that his community needed representation at the state level.



Tuesday, May 10, 2011



The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 10, 2011
Remarks by the President on Comprehensive Immigration Reform in El Paso, Texas
Chamizal National Memorial El Paso, Texas

1:21 P.M. MDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, El Paso! (Applause.) Well, it is wonderful -- wonderful to be back with all of you in the Lone Star State. (Applause.) Everything is bigger in Texas. (Applause.)


THE PRESIDENT: I love you back! (Applause.) Even the welcomes are bigger. (Applause.) So, in appreciation, I wanted to give a big policy speech outside on a really hot day. (Laughter.) Those of you who are still wearing your jackets, feel free to take them off. I hope everybody is wearing sunscreen.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We live here.

THE PRESIDENT: You say you live here? You don’t need it, huh? (Laughter.) Well, it is a great honor to be here. And I want to express my appreciation to all of you for taking the time to come out today.


THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you. (Applause.)

You know, about a week ago, I delivered a commencement address at Miami Dade Community College, which is one of the most diverse schools in the nation. The graduates were proud that their class could claim heritage from 181 countries around the world -- 181 countries. (Applause.)

Many of the students were immigrants themselves, coming to America with little more than the dream of their parents and the clothes on their back. A handful had discovered only in adolescence or adulthood that they were undocumented. But they worked hard and they gave it their all, and so they earned those diplomas.

And at the ceremony, 181 flags -- one for every nation that was represented -- was marched across the stage. And each one was applauded by the graduates and the relatives with ties to those countries. So when the Haitian flag went by, all the Haitian kids -- Haitian American kids shouted out. And when the Guatemalan flag went by, all the kids of Guatemalan heritage shouted out. And when the Ukrainian flag went by, I think one kid shouted out. (Laughter.) This was down in Miami. (Laughter.) If it had been in Chicago, there would have been more.

But then, the last flag, the American flag, came into view. And everyone in the room erupted in applause. Everybody cheered. (Applause.) So, yes, their parents and grandparents -- some of the graduates themselves -- had come from every corner of the globe. But it was here that they had found opportunity. It was here that they had a chance to contribute to the nation that is their home.

And it was a reminder of a simple idea, as old as America itself: E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants -- a nation that welcomes those willing to embrace America’s ideals and America’s precepts. That’s why millions of people, ancestors to most of us, braved hardship and great risk to come here -- so they could be free to work and worship and start a business and live their lives in peace and prosperity. The Asian immigrants who made their way to California’s Angel Island. The German and Scandinavians who settled across the Midwest. The waves of Irish, and Italian, and Polish, and Russian, and Jewish immigrants who leaned against the railing to catch their first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.

This flow of immigrants has helped make this country stronger and more prosperous. (Applause.) We can point to the genius of Einstein, the designs of I. M. Pei, the stories of Isaac Asimov, the entire industries that were forged by Andrew Carnegie.

And then when I think about immigration I think about the naturalization ceremonies that we’ve held at the White House for members of our military. Nothing could be more inspiring. Even though they were not yet citizens when they joined our military, these men and women signed up to serve.

We did one event at the White House and a young man named Granger Michael from Papua New Guinea, a Marine who had been deployed to Iraq three times, was there. And you know what he said about becoming an American citizen? He said, “I might as well. I love this country already.” That’s all he said. Marines aren’t big on speeches. (Laughter.)

Another was a woman named Perla Ramos who was born and raised in Mexico and came to the United States shortly after 9/11, and joined the Navy. And she said, “I take pride in our flag and the history we write day by day.”

That’s the promise of this country -- that anyone can write the next chapter in our story. It doesn’t matter where you come from -- (applause) -- it doesn’t matter where you come from; it doesn’t matter what you look like; it doesn’t matter what faith you worship. What matters is that you believe in the ideals on which we were founded; that you believe that all of us are created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. (Applause.) All of us deserve our freedoms and our pursuit of happiness. In embracing America, you can become American. That is what makes this country great. That enriches all of us.

And yet, at the same time, we’re here at the border today -- (applause) -- we’re here at the border because we also recognize that being a nation of laws goes hand in hand with being a nation of immigrants. This, too, is our heritage. This, too, is important. And the truth is, we’ve often wrestled with the politics of who is and who isn’t allowed to come into this country. This debate is not new.

At times, there has been fear and resentment directed towards newcomers, especially in hard economic times. And because these issues touch deeply on what we believe, touch deeply on our convictions -- about who we are as a people, about what it means to be an American -- these debates often elicit strong emotions.

That’s one reason it’s been so difficult to reform our broken immigration system. When an issue is this complex, when it raises such strong feelings, it’s easier for politicians to defer until the problem the next election. And there’s always a next election.

So we’ve seen a lot of blame and a lot of politics and a lot of ugly rhetoric around immigration. And we’ve seen good faith efforts from leaders of both parties -- by the way, I just noticed, those of you who have chairs, if you want to sit down, feel free. There’s no rule about having to stand when I’m --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: -- we love you! (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: But we’ve seen leaders of both parties who try to work on this issue, but then their efforts fell prey to the usual Washington games. And all the while, we’ve seen the mounting consequences of decades of inaction.

Today, there are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants here in the United States. Some crossed the border illegally. Others avoid immigration laws by overstaying their visas. Regardless of how they came, the overwhelming majority of these folks are just trying to earn a living and provide for their families. (Applause.)

But we have to acknowledge they’ve broken the rules. They’ve cut in front of the line. And what is also true is that the presence of so many illegal immigrants makes a mockery of all those who are trying to immigrate legally.

Also, because undocumented immigrants live in the shadows, where they’re vulnerable to unscrupulous businesses that skirt taxes, and pay workers less than the minimum wage, or cut corners with health and safety laws, this puts companies who follow the rules, and Americans who rightly demand the minimum wage or overtime or just a safe place to work, it puts those businesses at a disadvantage.

Think about it. Over the past decade, even before the recession hit, middle-class families were struggling to get by as the costs went up for everything, from health care, to college tuition, to groceries, to gas. Their incomes didn’t go up with those prices. We’re seeing it again right now with gas prices.

So one way to strengthen the middle class in America is to reform the immigration system so that there is no longer a massive underground economy that exploits a cheap source of labor while depressing wages for everybody else. I want incomes for middle-class families to rise again. (Applause.) I want prosperity in this country to be widely shared. (Applause.) I want everybody to be able to reach that American dream. And that’s why immigration reform is an economic imperative. It’s an economic imperative. (Applause.)

And reform will also help to make America more competitive in the global economy. Today, we provide students from around the world with visas to get engineering and computer science degrees at our top universities. (Applause.)

But then our laws discourage them from using those skills to start a business or a new industry here in the United States. Instead of training entrepreneurs to stay here, we train them to create jobs for our competition. That makes no sense. In a global marketplace, we need all the talent we can attract, all the talent we can get to stay here to start businesses -- not just to benefit those individuals, but because their contribution will benefit all Americans.

Look at Intel, look at Google, look at Yahoo, look at eBay. All those great American companies, all the jobs they’ve created, everything that has helped us take leadership in the high-tech industry, every one of those was founded by, guess who, an immigrant. (Applause.)

So we don’t want the next Intel or the next Google to be created in China or India. We want those companies and jobs to take root here. (Applause.) Bill Gates gets this. He knows a little something about the high-tech industry. He said, “The United States will find it far more difficult to maintain its competitive edge if it excludes those who are able and willing to help us compete.”

So immigration is not just the right thing to do. It’s smart for our economy. It’s smart for our economy. (Applause.) And it’s for this reason that businesses all across America are demanding that Washington finally meet its responsibilities to solve the immigration problem. Everybody recognizes the system is broken. The question is, will we finally summon the political will to do something about it? And that’s why we’re here at the border today.

And I want to say I am joined today by an outstanding Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, who’s been working tirelessly on this issue. (Applause.) Our commissioner who’s working diligently on border issues, Alan Bersin, is there, and we appreciate him -- Bersin. (Applause.)

So they’re doing outstanding work. And in recent years, among one of the greatest impediments to reform were questions about border security. And these were legitimate concerns. What was true was a lack of manpower and a lack of resources at the border, combined with the pull of jobs and ill-considered enforcement once folks were in the country.

All this contributed to a growing number of undocumented people living in the United States. And these concerns helped unravel a bipartisan coalition that we had forged back when I was in the United States Senate. So in the years since, “borders first, borders first,” that's become the common refrain, even among those who were previously supportive of comprehensive immigration reform.

But over the last two years, thanks to the outstanding work of Janet and Alan and everybody who’s down here working at the border, we’ve answered those concerns. Under their leadership, we have strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible. They wanted more agents at the border. Well, we now have more boots on the ground on the southwest border than at any time in our history. (Applause.)

The Border Patrol has 20,000 agents -- more than twice as many as there were in 2004. It’s a build-up that began under President Bush and that we’ve continued, and I had a chance to meet some of these outstanding agents, and actually saw some of them on horseback who looked pretty tough. (Laughter.) So we put the agents here.

Then they wanted a fence. Well, the fence is --


THE PRESIDENT: The fence is now basically complete.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Tear it down!

THE PRESIDENT: Then we’ve gone further. We tripled the number of intelligence analysts working at the border. I’ve deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the skies from Texas to California. We have forged a partnership with Mexico to fight the transnational criminal organizations that have affected both of our countries. (Applause.) And for the first time -- for the first time we’re screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments to seize guns and money going south even as we go after drugs that are coming north. (Applause.)

So, here’s the point. I want everybody to listen carefully to this. We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they asked for, we’ve done. But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I’ve got to say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: They’re racist!

THE PRESIDENT: You know, they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol. Or now they’re going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol. Or they’ll want a higher fence. Maybe they’ll need a moat. (Laughter.) Maybe they want alligators in the moat. (Laughter.) They’ll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That’s politics.

But the truth is the measures we’ve put in place are getting results. Over the past two and a half years, we’ve seized 31 percent more drugs, 75 percent more currency, 64 percent more weapons than ever before. (Applause.) And even as we have stepped up patrols, apprehensions along the border have been cut by nearly 40 percent from two years ago. That means far fewer people are attempting to cross the border illegally.

And also, despite a lot of breathless reports that have tagged places like El Paso as dangerous, violent crime in southwest border counties has dropped by a third. El Paso and other cities and towns along this border are consistently among the safest in the nation. (Applause.) Of course, we shouldn’t accept any violence or crime. And we’ve always got more work to do. But this progress is important and it’s not getting reported on.

And we’re also going beyond the border. Beyond the border, we’re going after employers who knowingly exploit people and break the law. (Applause.) And we are deporting those who are here illegally. And that’s a tough issue. It’s a source of controversy.

But I want to emphasize we’re not doing it haphazardly. We’re focusing our limited resources and people on violent offenders and people convicted of crimes -- not just families, not just folks who are just looking to scrape together an income. And as a result, we’ve increased the removal of criminals by 70 percent. (Applause.)

That’s not to ignore the real human toll of a broken immigration system. Even as we recognize that enforcing the law is necessary, we don’t relish the pain that it causes in the lives of people who are just trying to get by and get caught up in the system.

And as long as the current laws are on the books, it’s not just hardened felons who are subject to removal, but sometimes families who are just trying to earn a living, or bright, eager students, or decent people with the best of intentions. (Applause.)

And sometimes when I talk to immigration advocates, they wish I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself. But that’s not how a democracy works. What we really need to do is to keep up the fight to pass genuine, comprehensive reform. That is the ultimate solution to this problem. That's what I’m committed to doing. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, we can. We can do it. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

THE PRESIDENT: The most significant step we can now take to secure the borders is to fix the system as a whole so that fewer people have the incentive to enter illegally in search of work in the first place. This would allow agents to focus on the worst threats on both of our -- both sides of our borders, from drug traffickers to those who would come here to commit acts of violence or terror. That’s where our focus should be.

So, El Paso, the question is whether those in Congress who previously walked away in the name of enforcement are now ready to come back to the table and finish the work that we’ve started. (Applause.) We’ve got to put the politics aside. And if we do, I’m confident we can find common ground.

Washington is lagging behind the country on this. There is already a growing coalition of leaders across America who don’t always see eye-to-eye, but are coming together on this issue. They see the harmful consequences of a broken immigration system for their businesses and for their communities, and they understand why we need to act.

There are Democrats and Republicans, people like former Republican Senator Mel Martinez; former Bush administration Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff; leaders like Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York; evangelical ministers like Leith Anderson and Bill Hybels; police chiefs from across the nation; educators; advocates; labor unions; chambers of commerce; small business owners; Fortune 500 CEOs.

I mean, one CEO had this to say about reform: “American ingenuity is a product of the openness and diversity of this society. Immigrants have made America great as the world leader in business, in science, higher education and innovation.” You know who that leader was? Rupert Murdoch, who owns FOX News, and is an immigrant himself. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Rupert Murdoch’s views, but let’s just say he doesn’t have an Obama sticker on his car. (Laughter.) But he agrees with me on this. (Applause.)

So there is a consensus around fixing what’s broken. And now we need Congress to catch up. Now we need to come together around reform that reflects our values as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants; reform that demands that everybody take responsibility. So what would comprehensive reform look like?

First, we know that government has a threshold responsibility to secure our borders and enforce the law. And that’s what Janet and all her folks are doing. That’s what they’re doing. (Applause.)

Second, businesses have to be held accountable if they exploit undocumented workers. (Applause.)

Third, those who are here illegally, they have a responsibility as well. So they broke the law, and that means they’ve got to pay their taxes, they’ve got to pay a fine, they’ve got to learn English. And they’ve got to undergo background checks and a lengthy process before they get in line for legalization. That’s not too much to ask. (Applause.)

And fourth, stopping illegal immigration also depends on reforming our outdated system of legal immigration. (Applause.) We should make it easier for the best and the brightest to not only stay here, but also to start businesses and create jobs here. In recent years, a full 25 percent of high-tech startups in the U.S. were founded by immigrants. That led to 200,000 jobs here in America. I’m glad those jobs are here. I want to see more of them created in this country. We need to provide them the chance. (Applause.)

We need to provide our farms a legal way to hire workers that they rely on, and a path for those workers to earn legal status. (Applause.) And our laws should respect families following the rules -- reuniting them more quickly instead of splitting them apart. (Applause.)

Today, the immigration system not only tolerates those who break the rules, but it punishes folks who follow the rules. While applications -- while applicants wait for approval, for example, they’re often forbidden from visiting the United States. Even husbands and wives may have to spend years apart. Parents can’t see their children. I don’t believe the United States of America should be in the business of separating families. That’s not right. That’s not who we are. We can do better than that. (Applause.)

And we should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents. (Applause.) We should stop denying them the chance to earn an education or serve in the military. And that’s why we need to pass the DREAM Act. (Applause.) Now, we passed the DREAM Act through the House last year when Democrats were in control. But even though it received a majority of votes in the Senate, it was blocked when several Republicans who had previously supported the DREAM Act voted no.

That was a tremendous disappointment to get so close and then see politics get in the way. And as I gave that commencement at Miami Dade, it broke my heart knowing that a number of those promising, bright students -- young people who worked so hard and who speak about what’s best in America -- are at risk of facing the agony of deportation. These are kids who grew up in this country. They love this country. They know no other place to call home. The idea that we’d punish them is cruel. It makes no sense. We’re a better nation than that. (Applause.)

So we’re going to keep fighting for the DREAM Act. We’re going to keep up the fight for reform. (Applause.) And that’s where you come in. I’m going to do my part to lead a constructive and civil debate on these issues. And we’ve already had a series of meetings about this at the White House in recent weeks. We’ve got leaders here and around the country helping to move the debate forward.

But this change ultimately has to be driven by you, the American people. You’ve got to help push for comprehensive reform, and you’ve got to identify what steps we can take right now -- like the DREAM Act, like visa reform -- areas where we can find common ground among Democrats and Republicans and begin to fix what’s broken.

So I’m asking you to add your voices to this debate. You can sign up to help at We need Washington to know that there is a movement for reform that’s gathering strength from coast to coast. That’s how we’ll get this done. That’s how we can ensure that in the years ahead we are welcoming the talents of all who can contribute to this country and that we’re living up to the basic American idea that you can make it here if you try. (Applause.)

That’s the idea that gave hope to José Hernández. Is José here? Where’s -- José is right over there. (Applause.) I want you to hear -- I want you to think about this story. José’s parents were migrant farm workers. And so, growing up, he was too. He was born in California, though he could have just as easily been born on the other side of the border, if it had been a different time of year, because his family moved around with the seasons. So two of his siblings were actually born in Mexico.

So they traveled a lot, and José joined his parents picking cucumbers and strawberries. And he missed part of school when they returned to Mexico each winter. José didn’t learn English until he was 12 years old. But you know what, José was good at math and he liked math. And the nice thing is that math was the same in every school, and it’s the same in Spanish as it is in English.

So José studied, and he studied hard. And one day, he’s standing in the fields, collecting sugar beets, and he heard on a transistor radio that a man named Franklin Chang-Diaz -- a man with a surname like his -- was going to be an astronaut for NASA. So José decided -- right there in the field, he decided -- well, I could be an astronaut, too.

So José kept on studying, and he graduated high school. And he kept on studying, and he earned an engineering degree. And he kept on studying, and he earned a graduate degree. And he kept on working hard, and he ended up at a national laboratory, helping to develop a new kind of digital medical imaging system.

And a few years later, he found himself more than 100 miles above the surface of the Earth, staring out of the window of the shuttle Discovery, and he was remembering the boy in the California fields with that crazy dream that in America everything is possible. (Applause.)

Think about that, El Paso. That’s the American Dream right there. (Applause.) That's what we’re fighting for. We are fighting for every boy and every girl like José with a dream and potential that's just waiting to be tapped. We are fighting to unlock that promise, and all that holds not just for their futures, but for America’s future. That's why we’re going to get this done. And that's why I’m going to need your help.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

1:56 P.M. MDT


Sunday, May 8, 2011

VVA Congratulates National APAWLI Fellows – Class of 2011


Voice of Vietnamese Americans congratulates the National Asian American and Pacific Islander Women Leadership Institute Fellows - Class of 2011 for their achievements.

Our special congratulations to Attorney Tuyet Duong, from the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, who has participated as a Fellow selected for this program. Tuyet successfully graduated from the Leadership Institute with her special project to protect the women in the Nail Salon Industry, and at the same time, gave birth to her beautiful baby on April 29. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO TUYET.

National APAWLI Fellows – Class of 2011
Akira Heshiki – Standard Insurance – Portland, OR
Cam T. Ashling – Asian American Legal Advocacy Center – Atlanta, GA
Maria Christy Poisot – Shell Oil – Houston, TX
Cielo Martinez – Philippine Honorary Consul General -
Las Vegas, NV
FayLinn Lee – Shell Oil – Houston, TX
Linda C. Toyota – Independent Consultant – Houston, TX
Mari Watanabe – Oregon Nikkei Endowment – Portland, OR
Mary S. Bynum – State Farm Insurance – Bloomington, IL
Nancy Jenkins – Southern California Edison – Los Angeles, CA
Shirley N. Kwan – Amegy Bank – Houston, TX
Tuyet G. Duong – Department of Homeland Security –Washington, DC







Friday, May 6, 2011

Voice of Vietnamese Americans Participated in the White House AAPI Leaders Briefing on May 4, 2011


From left to right: Hung Nguyên, Dr. Vinh Cam, Kiran Ahuja - WHIAAPI Executive Director, Thu Nguyên - WHIAAPI fellow, Genie Nguyên - VVA President, Khanh Le - APAICS Anheuser Busch/ Congressman Frank Horton fellow, currently placed in the office of Congressman Mike Honda (CA - 15), Thao Nguyên - National Association of Realtors Fellow/ Office of Congressman Al Green (TX - 9)

From left to right: Dr. Vinh Cam, Hung Nguyên, Genie Nguyên, Khanh Le, Thao Nguyên, Thu Nguyên, Daphne Kwok - Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islander Commission.

From left to right: David Hawks - Program Director of NCAPIP, Genie Nguyên - President of VVA, Bich Nguyên - Executive Director of NCVA, Dr. Ho Tran - President of NCAPIP.

Watch live streaming video from interior at

Together with Khanh Le, Thao Nguyên, Thu Nguyên, Hung Nguyên, Dr. Vinh Cam, Dr. Ho Tran, Prof. Bich Nguyên, Vel Hernandez and Genie Nguyên from VVA attended the White House Asian American and Pacific Islander Leaders Briefing on Wednesday, May 4, 2011, at the U.S. Department of the Interior, Sidney Yates Auditorium.

Distinguished speakers included:

The Honorable Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President

The Honorable Arne Duncan, Secretary, Department of Education

The Honorable Jon Carson, Director, White House Office of Public Engagement, and Deputy Assistant to the President

The Honorable Cecilia Muñoz, Director, White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Deputy Assistant to the President

The Honorable Ronnie Chatterji, Senior Economist, White House Council of Economic Advisors

The Honorable Garth Graham, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health, Department of Health and Human Services

The Honorable Kiran Ahuja, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

The Honorable Bryan Jung, Director of Special Projects, White House Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs

The event was very informative, enriching, and motivating. The forum created a great opportunity for all Asian American Pacific Islanders to network and share concerns.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans thanks the President, the White House, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Executive Director Kiran Ahuja, Chairman Daphne Kwok, and all of the Commissioners of the White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islander Commission for their dedication and hard works to support the AAPI community


Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Contact: Genie Nguyen


Washington D.C, May 3, 2011:
On World Press Freedom Day, Voice of Vietnamese Americans celebrates the courage and will of all journalists who have exercised their freedom of the press to create stronger voice for the under-served and under-represented, to bring about social justice, sustainable development, peace, and prosperity.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans urges the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to honor the freedom of the press, to immediately release all bloggers, journalists, writers, who have been imprisoned for expressing themselves peacefully, using their freedom of the press.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans urges the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to openly apologize to the poet and publisher Bui Chat, who was detained up to 48 hrs upon returning to Vietnam after being awarded the International Publishers Association's Freedom to Publish Prize for his exemplary courage in upholding freedom to publish.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans strongly objects this violation of the basic universal human right: “Freedom of Expression”, which Vietnam has signed-on to when it joined the United Nations. Voice of Vietnamese Americans urges Vietnam to honor “Freedom of the Press”, to honor its own signature to the United Nations, and to stop its censorship and restrictions of publications.

Multiple cases of severe corruptions including the most current Vinashin scandal, the Securency affair, the notorious PMU-18 affair, the abusing power of all State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), have flourished into a systemic dilemma as the Communist Party of Vietnam continues to oppress freedom of the press. Consequentially, the Communist Party of Vietnam has pushed the Vietnamese People into economic crisis, education crisis, health care crisis, environmental crisis, security crisis, and most importantly, putting Vietnam’s sovereignty at risks.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans condemns this violation of freedom of the press, and strongly urges the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to honor freedom of expression, and to release all dissidents imprisoned for exercising their basic human rights.

Voice of Vietnamese Americans stands in solidarity with the Vietnamese People in their quest for human rights, civil rights, democracy, liberty, and justice for all.


The mission of Voice of Vietnamese Americans is to empower Vietnamese Americans by promoting civic engagement through community organizing and capacity building. Voice of Vietnamese Americans enhances, defends, and protects the American core values of human rights, civil rights, democracy, liberty, and justice for all.


Monday, May 2, 2011



Senator Jim Webb, addressing the Keynote speech at the Symposium. The Honorable Jim Webb mentioned his wife Hong Le Webb, who was a boat person at the the age of 7, later resettled in New Orleans, and having to work in a shrimp factory to earn her way through schools. She passed selective tests for Gifted and Talented children, continued to advance through schools, graduated from Cornell University and now is an acclaimed attorney working for a prestigious law firm in Washington D.C.

Senator Webb introduced the Senate Resolution: "May 2nd, Vietnamese Refugees Day" on April 30, 2009. The resolution, S. Res. 123, was unanimously passed last night (April 30, 2009) in the U.S. Senate.

The Vietnamese Americans presented Appreciation Plaque to The Honorable Jim Webb:

[From left to right: Prof. Bich Ngoc Nguyen, Mrs. Thuy Thanh Vu, Dr. Hung M. Nguyen, Senator Jim Webb, Genie Ngoc-Giao Nguyên, Hoan Dang, Sister My Hanh Truong, Dr. Hado Conley, Dr. Billington.]

On 34th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, Webb Resolution in Support of "Vietnamese Refugees Day" Passes Senate

Delivers Senate Floor Speech to Mark Anniversary

Washington, DC—On the 34th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, Senator Jim Webb D-VA introduced a Senate resolution expressing support for designating May 2, 2009 “Vietnamese Refugees Day.” The resolution, S. Res. 123, was unanimously passed last night in the U.S. Senate.

The resolution commemorates the arrival of the Vietnamese refugees in the United States, documents their harrowing experiences and subsequent achievements in their new homeland, honors the host countries that welcomed the boat people, and recognizes the voluntary agencies and nongovernmental organizations that facilitated their resettlement, adjustment, and assimilation into mainstream society in the United States.

“The events following the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, have never really been given the proper attention,” said Senator Webb in a speech on the Senate floor. “As a consequence of that bitter day in April, 1975 there are now more than two million Americans of Vietnamese descent. We are better off as a nation for their contributions to our society, at every level. It was not always easy for these refugees when they arrived, but they won the rest of us over with their perseverance, their reverence for education, and their dedication to their families.”

Webb continued: “It is important that Americans understand this journey, because those who lived it deserve a fair place at the table as we continue to work toward better relations in the Vietnam of today. It is important to build a proper bridge between our country and Vietnam, for the good of both countries, for the health East Asia, and for the benefit of all the people inside today’s Vietnam.”

To read Senator Webb’s resolution expressing support for designating May 2, 2009 “Vietnamese Refugees Day,” please visit:

Senator Webb’s full remarks on the anniversary of the fall of Saigon follow:

“Mister President, today is a day that, for Vietnamese around the world, is as significant as the distinctions that are often made in other cultures between B.C. and A.D. Thirty-four years ago, on April 30th, 1975, the Communist forces from North Vietnam finished their conquest of the south, and the struggling, war-torn country of South Vietnam ceased to exist. Many who fought on the communist side and others who supported them believe that the motivation for pursuing this war was the unification of the country and independence from outside influence, and in many ways the position that they took, and the loss of 1.4 million communist soldiers on the battlefield in pursuit of that position, is understandable. But it is just as understandable to recognize and honor the aspirations of the overwhelming majority of the people of South Vietnam, who fought long and hard at a cost of 245,000 battlefield deaths, for a government that, like our own here in the United States, allows true political and individual freedom.

“Those aspirations fell to the wayside as North Vietnamese tanks entered Saigon, in blatant violation of the 1973 Paris Peace accords, and instituted a harsh, Stalinist system of government that was marked at the outset by cruel recriminations toward those who had resisted its takeover. And thus, for millions of Vietnamese around the world, April 30th is a reminder of the loss of everything, including their homes, their way of life, and their hopes for a prosperous and open future for the country that they loved.

“Americans in general tend to avoid or ignore this day, and the significance it has not only on the Vietnamese but also on our own history. But it is important for us to look back on that day and on the war itself, not in anger but in fairness, in a way that gives credit where credit is due. And it is also important, for all of the reasons that led many of us to support that war endeavor, that we commit ourselves to working together to build the right kind of dialogue with the present government of Vietnam in order to help bring a better future for the Vietnamese people, and a more stable strategic environment in east Asia as a whole.

“Frankly, I believe this war still divides Americans in a way that they still feel but no longer openly discuss. I’m not sure we can even agree on the facts, much less the rightness or wrongness of our policies, that caused us to commit our military to that battlefield, with the eventual loss of 58,000 dead and another 300,000 wounded. Was it right to go into Vietnam? Was it important? If you ask those in academia, the predictable answer, growing ever more predictable as the years cause us to summarize the war ever more briefly, is that it was a mistake. And yet, here is a piece of data that should still cause all of us to think again. In August, 1972, eight years after the Gulf of Tonkin incident that brought us full-bore into Vietnam, even at a time when the nation had grown weary of bad strategies, after tens of thousands of combat deaths, and years of massive antiwar protests, a Harris Survey showed that 72 percent of Americans still believed that it was important that South Vietnam not fall into the hands of the communists, with only 11 percent disagreeing.

“Over the years, we’ve lost the reality of those concerns. Too often in today's discussions that examine the Vietnam War, we are overwhelmed by mythology. I hear it said quite often that this was a war between the United States and Vietnam. Nothing could be further from the truth, and nothing could be more offensive to the millions upon millions of Vietnamese who supported the South Vietnamese government and its long-term goal of a stable democracy. Our attempt to help that government was no different than the manner in which we assisted South Korea when it was attacked after being divided from North Korea, or the motivation that caused us to support West Germany when the demarcation line at the end of World War II divided Germany between the Communist east and the free society in the west. We were not successful in that endeavor in Vietnam for a number of reasons. But it would be wrong to assume that this was an action by our country against the country of Vietnam, or that it was motivated by lesser ideals.

“We hear a lot of dismissive talk about the domino theory and the supposedly unjustified warnings about what was going on in the rest of the region with respect to efforts that were backed by the Soviet Union and Communist China in the runup to our involvement. But these were valid concerns at the time. The region had seen a great deal of turmoil during and after World War Two. Most of the European colonial powers had receded throughout Southeast Asia, largely because of the enormous costs of that war, leaving poverty, war damage and unstable governments behind. Japan had withdrawn from the territories it had invaded and occupied. Governmental systems throughout the region were in transition, many in chaos. The communists had moved into power in China. Within a year North Korea invaded South Korea, and were joined on the battlefield by the Chinese. Indonesia endured an attempted coup, sponsored by the Chinese. In fact, Lee Kuan Yew, the brilliant leader who created modern Singapore, has said many times that the American effort in Vietnam was a key contribution in slowing down communism’s advance throughout the region, and allowing the other countries in the region to stabilize and prosper. The point, simply made, is that there was a great deal of strategic justification for what we attempted to do.

“This brings us to April, 1975. A North Vietnamese offensive had begun in the aftermath of a vote in this Congress to cut off supplemental funding to the Government of South Vietnam. This was combined with a massive refurbishment of the North Vietnamese Army, with the assistance of China and the Soviet Union, that allowed the offensive to kick off at a time when our South Vietnamese allies were attempting to reorganize their positions in order to adapt to the reality that they were going to get markedly less funding in terms of vital supplies such as ammunition and parts for their American-made weapon systems, as well as medical supplies.

“The events following the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, have never really been given the proper attention, probably because proper attention would embarrass so many people who had downplayed the dangers of a communist takeover. A gruesome holocaust took place in Cambodia, the likes of which had not been seen since World War II. Two million Vietnamese fled their country -- usually by boat -- with untold thousands losing their lives in the process, and with hundreds of thousands of others following in later years.

“This was the first such Diaspora in Vietnam's long and frequently tragic history. Inside Vietnam a million of the South's best young leaders were sent to re-education camps, where 240,000 stayed for longer than four years. More than 50,000 perished while imprisoned, and others remained captives for as long as 18 years. An apartheid system was put into place that punished those who had been loyal to the U.S., as well as their families, in matters of education, employment and housing. The Soviet Union made Vietnam a client state until its own demise, pumping billions of dollars into the country and keeping extensive naval and air bases at Cam Ranh Bay.

“As a consequence of that bitter day in April, 1975 there are now more than two million Americans of Vietnamese descent. We are better off as a nation for their contributions to our society, at every level. It was not always easy for these refugees when they arrived during the late 1970’s, to a country that had been so torn apart by the war itself. But they won the rest of us over with their perseverance, their reverence for education, and their dedication to their families. Our gain, at least in the short term, was Vietnam’s loss.

“It is important that Americans understand this journey, because those who lived it deserve a fair place at the table as we continue to work toward better relations in the Vietnam of today. Not to undertake a new round of recriminations. Not to re-live the bitterness of the past. But to build a proper bridge between our country and Vietnam, for the good of both countries, for the health East Asia, and for the benefit of all the people inside today’s Vietnam.

With respect to the region, Vietnam remains one of the most important countries in terms the manner in which the United States should be preserving all of its legitimate interests on the East Asian mainland. With the steady accretion of Chinese influence to the north, the expansion of India to the southwest, and the evolution of Muslim influence in Southeast Asia in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the southern reaches of the Philippines, Vietnam, along with Thailand and Singapore, are absolutely vital to our posture as an Asian nation.

“With respect to the Hanoi Government, with which I have had a long and not always pleasant relationship since 1991 when I first returned to Vietnam, I have a great appreciation for the very significant strides they have made since those early days. The relationships that are now evolving between Vietnam and the United States are healthy. In the long term I believe they are going to be successful. And even though I remain proud of my Marine Corps service in that war so many years ago, I welcome them. When I first returned to Vietnam in 1991 I went to Easter Mass at the Hanoi cathedral. There were perhaps 20 people in the church, all of them elderly. Last Christmas I attended Christmas Mass and there were at least two thousand people in the church, overflowing into the courtyard. People can argue around the edges, but this is progress. We need to reward those strides with reciprocal behavior, even if we remain at odds on some issues. There is a lot to be proud of in terms of the transformations that have been going on in Vietnam. Vietnam is growing. It is growing economically. It is growing politically. It is reaching out to the rest of the world. It is acting responsibly in the international arena. We have much work to do. We have much work to do in terms of encouraging more openness and greater political freedom. But we are on a pathway where, with the right kind of continued dialogue, I believe that is going to occur.

“And so I would like to re-emphasize that the best legacy for those of us who care deeply about this issue, and who remember all the tragedies of the war, will be for us to see Vietnam, the Vietnam of today, as a strategic and commercial partner and also as a vibrant, open society whose Government reflects the strength of the culture itself, a strength that has been demonstrated over and over again by the Vietnamese who have come to this country and who, I am proud to say, are now Americans.”


Cao Commemorates “Vietnamese Refugees Day”

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao’s (LA-02) first piece of legislation, H.Res. 342, designating May 2, 2009 as “Vietnamese Refugees Day,” was passed unanimously by the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The resolution commemorates the arrival of Vietnamese refugees in the United States, documents their harrowing experiences and subsequent achievements in their new homeland, and honors the host countries and other voluntary agencies that welcomed the boat people and facilitated their resettlement into mainstream society in the United States,” declared Cao.

On May 2, 2009, designated as “Vietnamese Refugees Day,” the Library of Congress’ Asian Division will join many Vietnamese-American organizations across the United States in sponsoring a symposium entitled: “Journey to Freedom: A Boat People Retrospective.”

“Like me, many of the conflict’s refugees came to the United States. In fact, it was April 28, 1974, exactly 34 years ago today, that, as Saigon fell, I climbed aboard a C-130 destined for the United States and my new life,” said Cao in support of the resolution.

Cao added that, since the Vietnam War ended, approximately 2,000,000 Vietnamese boat people and other refugees are dispersed globally. As of 2006, 72 percent of those Vietnamese-American in the United States are naturalized United States citizens — the highest rate among Asian groups.

Vietnamese-Americans significantly contribute to the cultural and economic prosperity of the United States as artists, scientists, astronauts, restaurateurs, Olympians, professors and lawyers. H.Res. 342 designates May 2, 2009 as “Vietnamese Refugees Day” in honor of Vietnamese-Americans’ journey to freedom.

“By doing so, we enshrine in the hearts and consciousness of Americans the tragic, heroic and uplifting stories of perseverance and the pursuit of freedom of millions of Vietnamese refugees to ensure these stories will stand as an inspiration to generations of Americans to come,” affirmed Cao.

The bill had 67 co-sponsors.



Kính thưa quý vi,

Thay mặt Ban Tổ Chức Hành Trình Tìm Tự Do, Ngọc Giao xin được chào mừng tất cả quý ân nhân, quý quan khách, và quý đồng hương, trong Bữa Cơm Hồi Tưởng Câu Chuyện Thuyền Nhân tối nay.

Trước tiên, xin được thành thật cảm tạ Hội Bạn Phòng Đọc Sách Á Đông tại Thư Viện Quốc Hội, nhất là Bà Reme Grefalda, người đề xướng chương trình này, đã cho người Việt tỵ nạn một cơ hội nhìn lại bước đường lịch sử chúng ta đã vượt qua, và giúp ghi lại hành trình này vào trang sử của Hoa Kỳ và thế giới một cách chính thức, trân trọng tại Thư Viện Quốc Hội Hoa Kỳ.

Chúng tôi cũng xin được chân thành cảm tạ quý ân nhân, quý đồng hương, những người Việt tỵ nạn từng là thuyền nhân, bộ nhân, đã nhiệt tình đóng góp vào dự án này. Mong đây là một bước khởi đầu, và chúng ta sẽ cùng nhau tiếp tục góp thêm nhiều sử liệu cho trang sử bi tráng này, thành một di sản đáng quý cho con cháu đời sau.

Trong lúc tổ chức, chắc chắn có nhiều sơ xuất, xin quý vị vui lòng thứ lỗi.

Thưa quý vị, hôm nay, ngày 01 tháng 5, 2009, chúng ta đang ghi lại trang sử cũ, để bước vào một trang sử mới.

Sự hội ngộ của chúng ta hôm nay, tôi tin, đó là một điều vô cùng kỳ diệu. Kỳ diệu vì nó không đến từ một phép màu nào, mà đến từ chính chúng ta, từ ước vọng Tự Do mãnh liệt của người Việt. Kỳ diệu vì nó đến từ chính sự chịu đựng, hy sinh, cố gắng vượt trên mọi thử thách, gian khổ, trong khả năng của một con người rất bình thường và yếu đuối.

Đó là sự kỳ diệu của lòng can đảm, của đức hy sinh, của tình yêu, của lòng tin, và của hy vọng.

Năm 1954, thế hệ của Giáo Sư Tạ Văn Tài, Giáo Sư Nguyễn Ngọc Bích, Giáo Sư Nguyên Manh Hùng, đã bỏ miền Bắc vào Nam, vượt bao khổ cực, để thế hệ 1974 có tương lai hơn.

Thế nhưng, năm 1975, chúng ta lại phải bỏ quê nhà ra đi lần nữa.

Năm 1975 - 1985, thế hệ của Giáo Sư Dinh Xuân Quân, Cô Kim Hà, Cô Vũ Thanh Thủy, Nguyễn Minh Nguyên, Andy Trần lại lần nữa đã can đảm vượt bao thử thách để thế hệ đàn em có tương lai hơn.

Và ngày hôm nay, tại đây, hai MC đại diện thế hệ trẻ là kết quả rât đẹp của sự hy sinh, lòng tin, và hy vọng ấy.

Katie Thục Nhi Đặng, sinh năm 1981, tại Pulau Bidong, từ gia đình thuyền nhân Bác Đặng Hữu Ái, có mặt tại đây hôm nay. Hiện tại Katie là một Luật Sư trẻ tuổi tài ba, xinh đẹp, lại giàu lòng nhân ái, tha thiết muốn phụng sự xã hội. Katie là hy vọng của chúng ta trong tương lai, là kết trái rất ngọt của muôn vàn cay đắng mà gia đình Bác Đặng Hữu Ái đã vượt qua.

MC thứ hai, Luật Sư Lê Quảng Sâm, sinh năm 1981, con trai Cô Lê Tống Mộng Hoa và Bác Lê Huyền, cũng làm rạng danh người Việt tỵ nạn khi phụng sự xã hội Hoa Kỳ trong ngành Luật Sư cho SBA của chính quyền Liên Bang.

Chúng ta còn rất nhiều câu chuyện đáng kể và đáng nghe, đáng ghi vào sử sách. Hôm nay, chúng tôi xin được trân trọng nói lên điều này:

Hành trình tìm tự do của người Việt, bắt đầu từ năm 1954, tiếp tục sau 1975, là một hành trình đầy can đảm, đầy lòng tin, và nhiều hy vọng.

Người Việt tỵ nạn trên hành trình tìm tự do trân trọng ghi ơn tất cả những ai đã góp phần cứu giúp và nâng đỡ chúng tôi trên quãng đường gian khổ.

Hôm nay, lớp trẻ lớn lên sẽ không quên quá khứ, và sẽ đền đáp lại những ân tình ấy một cách xứng đáng.

Một trang sử mới đang mở ra trước mặt chúng ta, ngày 01 tháng 05, năm 2009.

Kính mời tất cả mọi người Việt cùng chung bước đến mức đến cuối cùng của Hành Trình Tìm Tự Do.


Honored Guests,
Leaders of the Vietnamese Americans,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Organizing Committee of the “Journey to Freedom” Project, I – Long Nguyên – would like to welcome all of our sponsors, our honored guests, and friends, to the “Boat People Retrospective” Reception Dinner tonight.

First of all, we sincerely appreciate the Asian Division Friends Society of the Library of Congress, especially Ms. Reme Grefalda, who suggested this project. This offered the Vietnamese refugees an opportunity to look back at our past struggles, to officially record our journey to freedom as part of the Vietnamese American History, which now will be preserved at the Library of Congress.

We also would like to thank our sponsors, our compatriots, and all Vietnamese refugees whether boat persons, walk persons, or something else, who have enthusiastically responded and contributed to this project. May this be only a first step, and together we will compile more documents from this tragic history, to preserve a special legacy for the next generations.

Because we were overwhelmed with so many tasks, no doubt we might have overlooked this or that detail, which may displease you. Please forgive us.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Today, the first day of May, 2009, we are marking a special page of our past history, but at the same time we hope to open a new page in our history in America.

I believe our gathering today is a miracle in itself as far as the Vietnamese refugees are concerned. A miracle since it came not from any superhuman power, but from our own hearts, from our very thirst for freedom. A miracle since the very fact that we survived and are here today are the proof of our own endurance, sacrifices, struggles, and always striving to overcome challenges faced by limited human abilities.

Those miracles rest upon courage and sacrifice, of love, faith, and hope.

In 1954, the generation of Professor Tai Van Ta, Professor Bich Ngoc Nguyên, Professor Hung Manh Nguyên, who left North Vietnam to move South, had overcome lots of hardships, just so the generation of 1974 would have a better future.

Unfortunately, in 1975, we again had to pick up and leave our own homeland, in search for freedom.

From 1975 – 1985, the generation of Dr. Quan Dinh, Mrs. Kim Ha, Mrs. Vu Thanh Thuy, Mr. Nguyên Minh Nguyên, Mr. Andy Tran, once more crossed challenging oceans in search for freedom so the younger generations can have more hope.

As results, today, the two MCs representing the younger generation are proofs that those sacrifices and sufferings that our parents and grandparents endured with hope and faith have indeed reached the bright light at the end of the tunnel.

Katie Thuc Nhi Dang, born 1981, in Pulau Bidong, to a boat people family of Mr. Dang Hưu Ai. Katie is now a talented young attorney, beautiful, and very compassionate, with great motivation for public service. Katie represents our hope in the future, she is the result of the struggles of Mr. Dang Huu Ại during the 1980s.

The second MC, attorney Sam Le, also born in 1981, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Le Huyên – Mong Hoa, has brought recognition to the Vietnamese refugees when he serves as the attorney for the Federal SBA.

We have so many more stories to be told, to be heard, and to be recorded into history. Today, we would like to respectfully make the following statements:

The Vietnamese Journey to Freedom which started in 1954 and continued after 1975, is a journey of courage, faith, and hope.

The Vietnamese refugees appreciate all who have helped us, supported us, during hard times.

The younger generation growing up will not forget the past, and will try to give back to the community.

A new page of history has just opened in front of us, today, May 1st, 2009.

We respectfully invite all Vietnamese to join in to reach the ultimate goal of our “Journey to Freedom.”


Kicking Off Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Kicking Off Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Posted by Gary Locke on May 02, 2011 at 09:52 AM EDT

As co-chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, I’m honored to bat lead-off in what promises to be an interesting and informative month of blog posts on this site.

Today, more than 16 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) make up one of the fastest growing and most diverse populations in the United States. Each of the dozens of distinct AAPI ethnic and language groups has a rich history that contributes to the fabric of our nation.

A month-long commemoration of that history may be a relatively recent invention – Congress expanded it from a week-long celebration in 1990 – but May is a fitting month to pay tribute to our saga. It was May 1843 when the first Japanese immigrants came to America, and in May 1869 the first transcontinental railroad was completed with substantial contributions from Chinese immigrants.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders continue to play outsized roles in our nation’s society and economy. According to the newest Census data released just last week, between 2002 and 2007, AAPI-owned businesses increased 40.4 percent to 1.5 million, generating over $500 billion in sales and employing more than 2.8 million people. Many of these companies are small proprietorships, like the grocery store my family owned when I was growing up in Seattle.

Small businesses are the engines that drive our economy, accounting for almost two-thirds of all jobs in America. In fact, firms less than five years old accounted for nearly all increased employment in the private sector from 1980 to 2005. This is the power and promise of entrepreneurship, and that’s a power that runs through the AAPI community today.

A big part of my job as Commerce Secretary is to smooth the way for that long line of accomplishment to continue.

But we have our work cut out for us. Despite tremendous successes, members of the AAPI business community still face hurdles to accessing federal programs and other assistance, including language barriers and a lack of awareness about the many resources offered by the federal government.

Today, many AAPI entrepreneurs need access to resources such as management and technical assistance and small business loans to expand their businesses. Since the earliest days of the Obama administration, we have passed a variety of measures to help AAPI businesses thrive:

The Recovery Act enabled 8,000 AAPI-owned businesses to receive over $5 billion worth of new loans.
We passed new tax incentives that enable small businesses to deduct the cost of new equipment, new hires and even healthcare coverage.
We’ve also focused on educating AAPI firms about government procurement opportunities. Thus far, AAPI businesses have collected over $1 billion in new government contracts and played a major role in our National Export Initiative.
And because the AAPI community often has such extensive contacts in foreign countries, we’ve offered significant aid for those interested in export and trade initiatives abroad.

We have an opportunity to make a difference in the everyday lives of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in our country – and the everyday lives of all Americans. That is what I strive to achieve every day as Commerce Secretary, and I promise this administration will continue this important work into the future.

Thank you – and have a wonderful AAPI Heritage Month.

Gary Locke is the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Co-Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.


The White House · 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW · Washington DC 20500 · 202-456-1111

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Presidential Proclamation--Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 29, 2011
Presidential Proclamation--Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

This month, our Nation celebrates the contributions and accomplishments of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). Our AAPI communities have roots that span the globe, but their stories of striving and success are uniquely American. As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we recognize the entrepreneurship and fortitude of individuals who have helped build our country and shape the American dream for centuries.

Generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have helped develop and defend the United States, often in the face of tremendous racial and cultural prejudice. Despite these difficulties, AAPI men and women struggled, sacrificed, and persevered to build a better life for their children and all Americans.

Today, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have a profound impact on our society as leaders in all facets of American life, thriving as athletes and public servants, entrepreneurs and artists. Whether as small business owners or as proud members of the United States Armed Forces, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are helping to write the next chapter of the American story.

Although many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have achieved success, far too many still struggle to overcome obstacles of unemployment, poverty, and language barriers or face significant education, economic, and health disparities. To help address the diverse challenges affecting our AAPI communities, I reestablished the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The Initiative coordinates the efforts of agencies throughout the Federal Government to promote increased access to and participation in Federal programs for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who remain underserved, so we can continue to be a Nation where all things are possible for all people. All Americans can visit to learn more about the important work of this Initiative.

From our earliest days, intrepid men and women from the Asia Pacific region have forged enduring links between America and other nations as they moved across the Pacific. In today's globalized world, these bonds remain critical, reminding the United States of our rich shared history and integrated future with the dynamic Asia Pacific region. During Asian American and

Pacific Islander Heritage Month, let us celebrate the millions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders whose talents and contributions strengthen our economy, protect our security, and enliven our country every day.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2011 as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to visit to learn more about the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.