Lao-America and the Laws That Shape It
Hongvilay Thongsamouth

Gokhokho Publishing, Inc.
California, USA


Before 1975, only about 500 Lao* had been admitted into the United States. Today, almost 400,000 individuals from Laos reside in the United States as lawful permanent residents and citizens.

The mass exodus following the American withdrawal from the Vietnam conflict forced the United States to develop extensive refugee resettlement laws and policies. These policies, in turn, have largely shaped the formation and character of the Lao-American community as it exists today.

From early resettlement policies to current laws affecting detention and the threat of possible deportation, this presentation seeks to explore the history of Lao-American immigration and the specific laws that have shaped and that continue to shape the community.

*Lao in this paper refers to all ethnic groups from Laos (e.g. Hmong, Mien, Khamu, Tai Lue, Tai Dam, etc.)