The Good Governor: Robert Ray And The Indochinese Refugees Of Iowa
Publish Date: 2017-05-23
Author: Matthew R. Walsh
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After the Americans withdrew from the Vietnam War, their Indochinese allies faced imprisonment, torture, and death under communist regimes. The Tai Dam, an ethnic group from northern Vietnam, campaigned for sanctuary, writing letters to 30 U.S. governors in 1975. Only Robert D. Ray of Iowa agreed to help.
Ray wielded more influence over Indochinese refugee resettlement and relief than any other governor. He created his own agency to relocate the Tai Dam, advocated for the greater admission of boat people fleeing Vietnam, launched a Cambodian relief program that generated $540,000, and lobbied for the Refugee Act of 1980. Interviews with more than 30 refugees and public officials inform this comprehensive study of Iowa's resettlement program. The author chronicles how the Tai Dam adapted to life in the Midwest, and the Iowans' divided response.