Largest U.S. refugee group struggling with poverty 45 years after resettlement

It’s been 45 years since thousands of Southeast Asian refugees settled in the United States, yet, as a group, they continue to face major socio-economic challenges that have long been masked under the “model minority myth,” which portrays all Asian Americans as successful, according to a new report.

The report, “Southeast Asian American Journeys, A National Snapshot of Our Communities,” released last week, illustrates the experience of the community, from its migration to the U.S. to the present day.

One of the key findings is that across the country, nearly 1.1 million Southeast Asian Americans are low-income, and about 460,000 live in poverty. Hmong Americans fare worst compared to all racial groups across multiple measures of income.

Southeast Asian Americans account for 2.5 million of the U.S. population and 14 percent of the Asian American population, according to the report. Refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos began migrating en masse in the 1970s after the end of the Khmer Rouge regime, the Vietnam War and the U.S. “Secret War” in Laos.

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