Vietnamese diaspora hope things get better under Biden

By Anh Ngoc   January 22, 2021 | 11:56 am GMT+7
The Vietnamese diaspora in the U.S. are cautiously optimistic about the tenure of new U.S. President Joe Biden, knowing he faces stiff challenges.

"Finally this day has arrived, I was looking forward to this year’s inauguration ceremony because it is different from many others," said Huy Pham, a California resident.

A freelance lensman and businessman, Pham said he found the ceremony "beautiful and professional."

As soon as Biden was declared victor of the U.S. presidential election in November 2020, Huy sent an email to the 2021 Presidential Inaugural Committee to register for a ticket to the event. But he was told that there would be no ticket for the public amid the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the organizers still sent tickets to people as souvenirs.

Fireworks are seen over the National Mall during the Celebrating America event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, after the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States, in U.S., January 20, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Carlos Barria.

Fireworks are seen over the National Mall during the "Celebrating America" event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, after the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States, in U.S., January 20, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Carlos Barria.

Among many Americans looking for a respite from the turmoil of the Trump administration, Pham felt Biden was better placed to handle serious challenges.

"The Covid-19 pandemic will be the biggest challenge, next to economic recovery. The two challenges are interconnected," he said.

He said Biden would have the advantage of having the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Federal Government managed by members of the Democratic Party. He felt this would make it easier for the new president to find support for his policies.

"And the Covid-19 vaccine is now available," he added.

The U.S. is currently the world’s biggest Covid-19 hotspot, with more than 24.5 million cases and 406,000 deaths.

One day before Biden’s inauguration, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called on Biden to take global leadership on the pandemic, saying it was up to the U.S. to retake its place as "an engine of the world" and help out.

"This is the first global crisis in which the American leadership has been missing and the world needs American leadership," Borrell said.

Derek Pham, a Vietnamese American journalist, agreed, saying Trump had failed against the crisis wrought by the novel coronavirus and showed his weakness when the country needed him the most.

"That was why Biden had more chances to win the 2020 election, and now he must prove his ability in this battle and take the country back to normal," he said.

Pham hoped that Biden’s administration will be able to contain the virus as quickly as possible, support vaccination in many countries, and help America take back its leadership on the world stage.

Half-a-million Covid-19 deaths

The immediate reality is very gloomy. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, incoming director of the Center for Disease Control, said that by the middle of February, they expect half-a-million Covid-19 deaths.

In response, President Biden has promised that his administration will administer 100 million vaccinations in its first 100 days, which, as he said at his speech in Delaware last week, would require the administration to "move heaven and earth."

Alex Nguyen, residing in Washington, praised the president for taking the pandemic seriously. He also loved the idea of planting 200,000 flags on the National Mall instead of inviting thousands of people to the inauguration ceremony of January 20.

"It is practical and moving, many of my American colleagues also liked the idea," said Nguyen, whose biggest hope from the new administration is the Covid-19 vaccination process.

Also hoping to get his green card in the future, Nguyen is particularly interested in Biden’s immigration policies.

Hours ahead of Biden’s inauguration, incoming White House officials released more details of his legislative proposals on immigration reform, including a pathway to U.S. citizenship for around 11 million people. The proposals were described as a "common-sense approach to modernizing and restoring humanity to the immigration system" after four years of Trump’s systematic crackdown on both legal and illegal immigration.

Nguyen said it was essential that those living in America for years, but have not been recognized and allowed to pay tax, are helped by the administration. He recognized, however, that there would be difficulties in tackling illegal immigrants and security threats at borders.

U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden wave at the crowd as they head to the White House after the 2021 inauguration, in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Callaghan OHare.

U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden wave at the crowd as they head to the White House after the 2021 inauguration, in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Callaghan O'Hare.

‘Too hard’

Many members of the Vietnamese diaspora have kept their feet on their ground, not getting carried away by the moment or nursing sky-high expectations in the new administration.

"The challenge is too hard. Half of the country voted for Trump. Each side has its own ideas. I only hope that Biden and his cabinet will come up with policies that benefit all Americans," Nguyen said.

Derek Pham and Lu Ta, a Vietnamese residing in the U.S. for nearly four decades, echoed Nguyen’s opinion. They both felt that it would take Biden at least two years, half of his presidential term, to gain the trust of Americans and unite them.

Ta said Trump’s influence will last long unless he is indicted and convicted.

"His extreme right wing policies have hurt the heart of American democracy. The country has been through a lot of storms, that is why our institution and people are strong," Ta maintained.

"I hope Biden will do his job well, take care of people and they will change their opinion about him."

Another California resident, Moc Mien, was guardedly hopeful.

"I believe Biden will take America back to normal... He must be cautious with every step, or he will face the biggest failure of his life."

 
 
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