This is a photo of me the day I arrived in America in 1993. I came with my parents and one suitcase. It only had a few days’ clothes and the things they couldn’t bear to leave behind. Most people can probably tell by my name that I am an immigrant. What most people don’t know is that almost all Vietnamese immigrants are refugees. 

And what were they fleeing? An oppressive regime, a war-torn country, unjust political incarceration, religious persecution, the ghosts of their fallen countrymen. And what did they believe they were coming to? A new world, the land of opportunity, a future for themselves and their child, a life worth living.

So they sold their possessions, they took only what they needed, they said their goodbyes, and they left the only home they had ever known. My family and I came on a plane, but many people didn’t. Many people snuck out of the country on fishing boats – packed in like sardines beneath the deck with no concept of time or day. Many never made it.

These are the conditions by which people flee their countries. This is not a holiday for them. This is not a choice. These are people on their last lifeline. America is a country founded by immigrants, forged from revolution, and for so long has stood as a symbol of hope and freedom. To turn these people away would be un-American, un-Constitutional, and inhumane.

You may not know these people. You may not have seen their faces. It’s easy to turn away, to distance yourself, to think it does not apply to you – but you know me, you have seen my face. You went to school with me. You’ve worked alongside me. And that Syrian child just as easily is this Vietnamese child. The difference is the year. 

In 1993, America let me in. It embraced me. It offered me shelter from the storm. This is 2017, and that shouldn’t change. 


In case you didn’t know this about me – know that I am an immigrant, a person of color, a woman; the very demographic Donald Trump seeks to obliterate. Today, I am incredibly proud to be 1 of 750,000 people (in LA) who stood for themselves, who stood for those who couldn’t, who are here to change that which we cannot accept.

“The people, united, will never be divided.”

Los Angeles, January 21, 2017.

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