What obligation does the United States have toward people who are uprooted by war?

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How the U.S. Has Treated Wartime Refugees

Producer: Joseph Hogan
Editor: Pilar Rico
Additional Editor: Cullen Golden

Ukrainians have fled their country by the millions to escape the Russian invasion, a mass exodus a U.N. official called “the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.”

This video asks what obligation countries have to refugees. It’s a question as important today as it was in 1975, when the United States evacuated 130,000 South Vietnamese allies during the fall of Saigon and brought them to this country to start new lives. But some Vietnamese refugees, like Carolee Tran, faced significant hardship and racism, despite the fact that then-President Ford said the U.S. had a “profound moral obligation” to families like hers.

Today, as Afghan and Ukrainian migrants settle in the United States, this video asks whether refugee resettlement is better now than it was for the Vietnamese 50 years ago. And it asks what is owed to people fleeing war, destruction and despair across the globe. As Kenneth Quinn, a former ambassador and foreign service officer told us, “All societies are determined by answering that question: To whom do I have an obligation?”

Click below for our free classroom lesson plan and resource, Teaching About Immigration and Migration, which examine the obligation countries have to refugees and whether refugee resettlement is better now than it was for the Vietnamese coming to the U.S. 50 years ago.

TranscriptLesson Plan