Southeast Asian Americans in Lowell, MA
Lowell, Massachusetts is home to the second-largest Cambodian American population in the United States, with significant numbers of Vietnamese, Lao, Hmong, and more recent Burmese refugees (of varying ethnicities). The materials in this collection, compiled by the UMass Lowell Center for Asian American Studies and Southeast Asian Digital Archive, provide an overview of this diverse population.
BACKGROUND: The wars in Southeast Asia (SEA), stretching from the last 1950s to the late 1970s, involved Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos, as well as other countries embroiled in the Cold War, including the United States and China. The conflicts resulted in over 1.2 million Southeast Asian refugees to the U.S. since 1975.
In the late 1970s, Lowell, Massachusetts, served as a relocation center and secondary migration hub for SEA refugees. The 1980 U.S. Refugee Act amended the earlier Immigration and Nationality Act and the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act. It raised the annual ceiling for refugees from 17,400 to 50,000, created a process for reviewing and adjusting the refugee ceiling to meet emergencies, and required annual consultation between Congress and the President.
According to the US Census Bureau, Lowell's population of 106,519 residents is over 20% Asian American, with approximately 14,470 Cambodian Americans, ~2,057 Vietnamese American, and ~1,500 Lao Americans. (The Census also records 2,472 South Asian Americans and 322 Filipino Americans in Lowell). Community estimates are that approximately 300 Burmese refugees (including Karen, Karenni, Kachin, and other ethnic groups) reside in Lowell.
But community leaders actually believe that greater numbers live in this city; some immigrants and refugees do not report their numbers due to fears of deportation or fears of governmental officials. So the estimates of the Asian American population in Lowell range from 25,000-35,000.
Nearby Lynn, MA, is home to the third-largest Cambodian American population in the US, while Boston, MA, is home to a significant number of Vietnamese Americans, particularly in the Dorchester neighborhood. Providence, RI, is home to a large Lao Amerian population.
For a 2012 overview of Asian American communities in Massachusetts, please visit "Asian Americans in Massachusetts: A Census Profile."
Keywords: Asia* America*, Cambodia* America*, Lao* America*, Laotian, Vietnam* America*, Burm* America*, Chin* America*, Bhutan* America*, Bhutanese, Southeast Asia*, politic*, cultur*, oral histor*, newspaper*, Khmer Post