Assimilation of Hmong Refugee Students
This study examines the educational attainment of Southeast Asian immigrants, specifically Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Hmong, to explicate their diversity within the racial category, “Asian American”. Over 1 million Hmong refugees and immigrants arrived in the United States from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos following the end of the Vietnam War. This broad pan-ethnic label is particularly detrimental to Southeast Asian ethnic minorities because of the model minority stereotype ascribed to them. This stereotype renders ethnic groups categorized under the “Asian American” identity term from being considered for social and educational programs that they may otherwise benefit from (Hurh & Kim, 1989, S. Lee, 1996, Nakanishi, 1995). This study is important because the Asian-origin population in the U.S. is the fastest growing ethnic group. Southeast Asian refugees are a source of this growth. Studies have examined the educational attainment of Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Hmong students but none have used empirical evidence with Bourdieu’s cultural capital theory to explain the disparity of educational attainment among varying Asian ethnicities. Secondary data from the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study (CILS) is employed. This study is part of a growing body of research regarding the assimilation of Southeast Asian refugees and contributes to future research on Southeast Asian Americans.