系列报道一 | 东南亚难民的过往,给阿富汗人在费城安家的启示



This article is the first of a series of nine stories which seeks to increase visibility and understanding of the diverse Asian American communities in the Philadelphia region and their strengths, challenges and histories. Now more than ever, we must ensure Asian voices have a platform to speak out against the issues impacting our communities.

这一系列报道是新主流传媒公司与费城华埠发展会(PCDC)合作,和Sojourner Consulting协同,并获得独立公共媒体基金会(the Independence Public Media Foundation)的大力支持。

This series is developed by New Mainstream Press in partnership with the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation and in consultation with Sojourner Consulting, with support from the Independence Public Media Foundation.


记者:Eleni Finkelstein



  • 全文约5120字(中文),阅读约需13分钟。

勒奎恩·吴(Le Quyen Vu)是中南半岛美国理事会(Indochinese American Council)的执行主任。1975年4月,她以越南难民的身份逃离当时的越南西贡(Saigon),并于1983年来到费城。

Le-Quyen Vu is the Executive Director of the Indochinese American Council. She is also a refugee from Vietnam who arrived in Philadelphia in 1983 after fleeing Saigon in April 1975.



Her husband’s family worked for the US Embassy and were among the few who escaped on U.S. helicopters, gripping tightly to it as it lifted off the ground. The scene can be compared to visuals seen on the news in August 2021 as the U.S. flew their final planes out of Kabul while Afghans clung to aircraft landing gear, some falling to their deaths, desperate to escape the Taliban’s return to power.



Vietnam was not the only Southeast Asian country affected by violence in the 1970s and 80s. Refugees from Cambodia and Laos also tried to make their way to the United States to escape bombings and violence. The U.S. involvement in Laos was an extension of the Vietnam War, as the communist group Pathet Lao was allied with Northern Vietnam. In Cambodia, the U.S. conducted a multi-year bombing campaign against communist Viet Cong troops stationed in the country. Those whose families were not employed by the U.S. military often had to navigate an 8-to-10 year gauntlet to make their way through refugee camps and eventually obtain refugee status and entry into the U.S.



Once in Philadelphia, refugees like Le-Quyen’s family were not always greeted warmly by the City of Brotherly Love. Le-Quyen spoke to us about some of the issues faced outside of language barriers for incoming refugees such as Isolation, cultural differences, and intentional discrimination from already established cultural communities. Residents of certain poverty-stricken areas–whose pre-existing populations were subject to structural inequality and discrimination–viewed refugees as being treated “better” due to their receipt of government aid and benefits. This sometimes led to violence and racist acts against Southeast Asian refugees.



A few months ago, Afghans fleeing Taliban control began arriving in Philadelphia and other regions of the U.S. with similarly harrowing escape stories to those of Le-Quyen and her family. In October 2021, while picking up an Afghan man and former U.S. military ally from the Philadelphia airport to bring him to his temporary Airbnb, a volunteer driver greeted the man with patience and gratefulness. After a few minutes of getting to know each other he asked, “So what’s the plan?” Confused, the driver asked him to elaborate. “To get the rest of my family out of Afghanistan. I was told I would come first and the rest of my family would come to America later.”

△ 2021年美军撤离阿富汗时,阿富汗难民试图通过扒飞机的方式离开。图片来源:AFP



The driver had to explain to the man that there is no plan in place right now, and she does not know when, or if, there will be. The man continued to tell her that his wife and children are currently hiding in a basement in Afghanistan. They are being threatened by the Taliban since he was an ally of the U.S. military. They have little access to food and resources since nearly the whole country has become a food desert. Hunger will likely kill more Afghans than war this winter.




Sadly, this is only one man’s experience among the tens of thousands of Afghans currently being resettled across the U.S. There are countless stories of husbands being separated from their children and pregnant wives, children being separated from their parents, family being left behind in Afghanistan, and fear of being in the U.S. alone with little support. The identity of many arriving Afghans, including this man’s, have been kept private due to the potential for retributive violence against their families from the Taliban.


在美国主导阿富汗战争和塔利班重新掌权的20年间,数十万阿富汗人正处于危险之中,特别是那些被美军雇佣的士兵、翻译,以及外交官和军队的助手们。由于美国撤离阿富汗的速度太快,阿富汗的撤离人员没有足够的时间完成难民身份的审批。取而代之的是,来美国的阿富汗人获得了一张“人道主义假释和特殊移民签证”(Humanitarian Parole and Special Immigrant Visa)。难民审查程序被简化为“与美军有关”的证明。假释身份在功能上和难民身份等同。

After two decades of a U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and the return to power of the Taliban, hundreds of thousands of Afghans were put in danger, especially those who worked alongside the U.S. military as soldiers, translators, and assistants for diplomats and troops. Failing to qualify for refugee status due to the speed of the U.S. exit of Afghanistan, Afghans are in the U.S. on a program called Humanitarian Parole and Special Immigrant Visas. In this scenario, the refugee vetting process is revised to a short form proving relation to the US military. Parolee status is functionally equivalent to refugee status.



不出所料, 许多准备在美国开始新生活的阿富汗人和几十年前,其他东南亚难民家庭遇到了相似的问题和挑战。移民安置机构们尝试着帮助大家顺利过渡,但是怎奈需要帮助的人数太多,资金和资源又太少,加之民间组织能力有限,很多问题都没有“解药”。

Many Afghans have already encountered the hardships of establishing an Afghan community among existing cultural groups, similar to the struggles faced by other Southeast Asian refugee families when they arrived decades ago. Resettlement groups seek to make the process easier. Yet, due to the volume of individuals who need help and the lack of funding and resources, the organizations lack capacity.



“I don’t recall [if] there’s intentional effort from non-profits or the government to really intentionally help [long term],” says Le-Quyen about the issue. Most government programs administered by resettlement agencies can only provide benefits for six to nine months. This system is designed to support a short to medium term transitional support. “We help people settle and get the basic necessities, then we say okay we need to help the next person.”



The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and Nationalities Services Center (NSC) are the two Philadelphia nonprofits at the forefront of our region’s refugee resettlement. The organizations provide temporary housing, English lessons, government assistance, affordable permanent housing, education, employment opportunities, and other support to incoming refugees and humanitarian parole recipients. The caseworkers at these agencies have been working tirelessly since the fall of 2021 to help the Afghans adjust to their new life in Philadelphia.



HIAS has been on the front lines of resettlement plans since the late 1800s.  The organization was originally founded as an organization to help Russian Jewish Women seek help and avoid assault and trafficking upon settling in America. After Saigon fell in 1975, HIAS opened its doors to Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians. Since then, HIAS has helped immigrants and refugees of all faiths and backgrounds.



HIAS执行董事凯西·米勒·威尔森(Cathryn Miller Wilson)在接受采访时说:“从阿富汗撤离行动开始以来,我们都忙疯了。”包括她本人在内,所有的协会工作人员都在争分夺秒地帮助每一个来自阿富汗的朋友。通常安置一个家庭需要十天的时间,但是因为人太多,这个期限已经被无限期延长。

Executive Director of HIAS Pennsylvania Cathryn Miller-Wilson and her staff have given up many days and nights to help our incoming friends from Afghanistan. “We have been pretty frantic since the crisis happened,” says Miller-Wilson, who explained that the refugee resettlement process typically takes 10 days per family, but has been extended indefinitely due to the volume of cases.



The resettlement agencies sometimes partner with the private sector to fulfill certain specific needs. RiceVan, a sister company of Metro Chinese Weekly, collaborates with HIAS and NSC to provide culturally-appropriate halal meals and groceries to allow the agencies to focus on more specialized human services. While agencies like HIAS cannot ease the pain and trauma of the refugees, they are working nonstop to make the transition to the United States as seamless as possible.




在安置阿富汗难民的过程中,像“费城阿富汗人”(AOP )这样的组织也在尝试填补政府和移民安置机构援助的空白。就像“费城阿富汗人”组织的宗旨所述,“我们希望在费城建立一个团结一体的阿富汗社区,以期消除阿富汗家庭在不同文化社区中面临的孤立和歧视。”

Groups like Afghans of Philadelphia (AOP Sola) have tried to bridge the gap where governmental and resettlement agency help has fallen short. The organization has taken on the purpose of establishing a united Afghan community in Philadelphia in hope of combatting some of the isolation and discrimination faced by families placed in those already-established communities of different cultures.


法拉·阿玛蒂(Farwa Ahmadi)是“费城阿富汗人”组织的董事,同时她也是国籍服务中心(NSC)的全职工作人员。2021年8月,当她得知美军从阿富汗撤离,很多阿富汗人要来费城安家的时候,她和董事会成员们创建了“费城阿富汗人”(AOP)组织。

Farwa Ahmadi is the Director of AOP Sola and is also a full time medical case manager for NSC. She and the board members created AOP in August when news of America’s evacuation of Kabul broke and the public learned of the number of Afghans coming to the Philadelphia region.



法拉·阿玛蒂表示,虽然费城现有的阿富汗人有一定规模,但是大家并没有“拧成一股绳”。在2021年8月之前,大约有700名阿富汗人在东北费附近的牛津圈(Oxford Circle)和Mayfair安家,虽然他们多年前就移民或通过避难来到费城,但是并没有结成一个联系紧密的社区。“费城阿富汗人”的董事会成员都是第一代或第二代难民,他们对新来者所经历的一切都感同身受。一位董事会成员回忆说,她与母亲一起长大。在记忆中,母亲常常因想念在阿富汗的家人而哭泣。因为不会说英语,她的母亲还经常受到歧视。直到有一天,他们遇到了另一个来自阿富汗的家庭。那家人把他们介绍到当地的一座清真寺,从那以后,大家第一次有了归属感。

“We have a good population here, but they’re not really unified,” she says about the existing Afghans in the area. Prior to August 2021, about 700 Afghans who have immigrated or sought refuge in years past mostly settled in the Northeast near Oxford Circle and Mayfair. However, a close-knit community has not taken hold. With help from those already here, AOP hopes to provide comfort, resources, education, and support to the incoming Afghan people. Vice President Selli of the group emphasizes “We [AOP] are the bridge between the outside world and the Afghan world.”

The board of AOP Sola are all either first or second generation refugees and can sympathize with the disorienting experience today’s incoming Afghans must navigate. One board member recalls growing up with her mother who would often cry and exclaim in frustration that she missed her family in Afghanistan. Her mother did not speak English and often faced discriminated. One day they met another Afghan family who introduced them to a local mosque, which allowed her family to feel part of a community for the first time since coming to the U.S.


现在,“老移民”们希望,通过讲解医学常识;为接收阿富汗学生的学校开设文化课程;提供心理健康咨询等方式,帮助在费城定居的数千名新难民找到这份“归属感”。该组织副主席塞利(Selli) 强调,“我们(AOP)是联通外部世界和阿富汗社区之间的桥梁。”

This is what AOP hopes to accomplish for the thousands of new refugees being settled in Philadelphia, along with providing medical literacy, cultural lessons for schools accepting Afghan students, mental health resources, and more.


关于目前阿富汗家庭的安置情况,希伯来移民援助协会(HIAS)的米勒·威尔逊(Miller Wilson)指出,“现行政策令人失望。”在截然不同的政治气候下,难民政策自70年代和80年代以来发生了变化。正如勒奎恩之前说过的,在重新安置过程结束之后,新居民们不知道该怎样融入当地的阿富汗社区。

Regarding the current protocols in place for resettling Afghan families, Miller-Wilson of HIAS noted that “the policy in place is disappointing.”  With a drastically different political climate, refugee policy has changed since the 70s and 80s. As Le-Quyen noted earlier, there seems to be no handoff between the end of the resettlement process and the beginning of community assimilation.


费尔南多·章枚(Fernando Chang Muy)是宾夕法尼亚大学卡丽法学院(University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School)的教授,他是难民法和相关政策方面的专家。在采访中,他谈到从上世纪70年代到现在,美国难民法和相关政策的变化。

Fernando Chang-Muy is the Thomas O’Boyle Lecturer of Law at University of Pennsylvania’s Carrie Law School, where he teaches Refugee Law and Policy. Metro Chinese Weekly interviewed Chang-Muy to discuss the past and present of refugee law and policy and how it has changed since the 1970s under Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.

During World War II, the United States wasinfamous for their underwhelming response.

“The cry of ‘NeverAgain’ was heard around the world, with the United States as the leader. Wewill create a structure…[When Saigon fell] we did it without really blinking aneye, and we did it in part of that shame from World War II,” says Chang-Muy.


二战之后,本想打个翻身仗的美国,却陷入了越南战争的“泥潭”。作为回应,美国国会制定了联邦难民重新安置计划(the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program)。该计划确定了美国每个财政年度愿意接收和在经济上支持的难民数量。里根(Ronald Reagan)在1975年确定的人数是22万人,这是美国卷入阿富汗战争的20年间,接收阿富汗难民总数的两到三倍。到了2021年,特朗普政府难民接受上线为1万5千名。

As a response, Congress established the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program, which determined how many refugees the U.S. is willing to accept and economically support each fiscal year. Reagan determined the number in 1975 to be 220,000, which is two to three times the number of Afghans the U.S. has taken and vowed to take from the first time the Taliban seized power through the U.S. military exit of Afghanistan in August, 2021–a period spanning some 20 years. The 2021 refugee intake under the Trump Administration was capped at 15,000.


几十年前西贡“沦陷”后,美国制定了《难民法案》(Refugee Act)。按照这项基本计划的要求,那些希望在美国寻求庇护的人,会先前往其他国家和地区,比如泰国、香港和菲律宾。这使得美国得以逐一询问和审查每一个人,并确定他们的难民身份。


Decades earlier, after the fall of Saigon, the U.S. had a basic plan in place due to the recent Refugee Act. Those who wished to seek refuge in the U.S. first went to other countries and territories like Thailand, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. This allowed the U.S. to interview and vet those fleeing their countries and bestow refugee status, which is defined as someone who is “outside their country of origin with a well-founded fear of persecution, and persecution had to be [linked] to five grounds–race, nationality, religion, social group, or opinion.” Most tied their fear to their Christian faith and disapproval of communism.

Decades earlier, after the fall of Saigon, the U.S. had a basic plan in place due to the recent Refugee Act. Those who wished to seek refuge in the U.S. first went to other countries and territories like Thailand, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. This allowed the U.S. to interview and vet those fleeing their countries and bestow refugee status, which is defined as someone who is “outside their country of origin with a well-founded fear of persecution, and persecution had to be [linked] to five grounds–race, nationality, religion, social group, or opinion.” Most tied their fear to their Christian faith and disapproval of communism.

Vietnamese refugees previously employed by the U.S. military did not have to otherwise prove their refugee status to earn entry to the U.S. These families were quickly taken to a refugee camp where they awaited a U.S. family and government program to financially support them as they made their journey to the U.S. Refugees from Cambodia and Laos were taken to refugee camps where their files were examined and vetted with an intense 8-step refugee process before being approved to relocate to the United States. The arduous process often took years.



The Afghanistan evacuation process was both faster and more haphazard. The rush to leave Kabul left no time to vet those seeking refuge to the United States, leaving the Afghans to come in on a humanitarian parole program. With this process, translators and lawyers are scarce. Social workers, along with federal and state funding for the organizations supplying resources such as HIAS, are also spread thin.

△在费城的阿富汗人声援阿富汗难民。图片来源:the Inquirer


历史证明,美国有能力接收大量难民。但是,对于很多美国城市来说,问题似乎出自一些核心矛盾上:比如在美国社区重新安置阿富汗人时,无法为他们提供负担得起的住房。现在,每个家庭领取到的临时住房津贴,并不足以支付每月的房租。在费城,大多数阿富汗人都在费城东北部(Northeast Philly)和本萨勒姆(Bensalem)附近的永久住宅区安顿下来,就是因为那里有合适的、负担得起的住房。

Proven by history, the U.S. is capable of accepting a large number of refugees. In cities across the country, the issue seems to lie in the scarcity of certain core resources needed to resettle Afghans in American communities. The largest obstacle is lack of affordable housing. Each family receives a temporary housing stipend, which is often far less than the monthly rent needed to house a family. In Philadelphia, most Afghan are settling into permanent housing locations around Northeast Philly and Bensalem as suitable and affordable housing becomes available.



With only a short term federal plan, a lot of the responsibility of resettlement falls on local nonprofits and the public.  “It falls on the cities to pick up the pieces, and then falls on the resettlement agencies,” says AOP. “Many organizations are run by immigrants or children of immigrants so they are sensitive to the issues so they’ve done the best that they could.”



The effort to supply assistance has been partially led by those in similar positions years ago. For instance, the Indochinese American council run by Le-Quyen Vu is a non-profit organization aimed to create opportunities for children and adults through education, such as by offering English lessons and cultural programs. Their services are available to all refugees and immigrants, including those in the Afghan community.



希伯来移民援助协会(HIAS)的米勒·威尔逊(Miller Wilson)则向我们讲述了另一个故事。一个在上世纪70年代接受了该组织帮助的越南难民,现在是一名房东。他向阿富汗撤离者出租经济适用房。


Miller-Wilson shared another story about a Vietnamese man helped by HIAS in the 70s who is today a landlord renting out affordable housing to Afghan evacuees. Others such as AOP have organized community marches to spread awareness and launched donation drives and an ambassador program so those who want to help can.



Over the past two decades, Islamophobia has skyrocketed. Only years ago, the Trump administration signed a ban on entry from a half-dozen Muslim-majority countries. It is vital to ensure the public sector and communities are aware of their shortcomings with refugee communities and held accountable to repair those faults. There are many parallels with the Afghan community in Philadelphia and the Southeast Asian communities who arrived as refugees in the 70s and 80s, but the Afghan challenges still prove unique in various ways.



With former Southeast Asian refugees leading by example, it is important to express empathy and support to incoming Afghans. The resettlement process handles the bulk of the transition to life in Philadelphia, but the issues of language access, mental health services, medical literacy, and more still remain. Groups like AOP and the Indochinese American Council are stepping up to the plate and bring forth the lesson that the arrival of Afghans evacuees in Philadelphia provides a fresh opportunity for the city and its people to do their part to bring comfort and peace to those who have already faced a lifetime of trauma.


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