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ABSTRACT

Since the immigration legislation of 1965, marriage to American citizens and resident aliens has been one of the primary paths for migration to the United States. Despite the rapid growth of the Asian American population over the course of the late twentieth century, Asian Americans had still reached only 3 per cent of all Americans by 2000, meaning that Asian marriage migration to the United States has been largely through marriage to non-Asians. In this study, we look at exogamy among Vietnamese Americans using U. S. Census data (1980, 1990, and 2000) from 5 per cent PUMS sets made available through the IPUMS project. We ask: (1) What are the predictors of exogamy among Vietnamese Americans? (2) How do the rates of exogamy of Vietnamese American women compare to those of Vietnamese American men? (3) How have the predictors of exogamy and the apparent characteristics of the exogamously married changed over the decades of refugee movement from Vietnam to North America? We review data from the years 1980, 1990, and 2000. In the assimilationist view of immigration associated with the classic work of Milton M. Gordon, exogamy is the final stage of immigrant incorporation into a host country. Migration through marriage, which has become a major source of immigration to the United States since the Immigration Act of 1965, reverses this assimilationist pattern, placing marriage before immigration and incorporation, or at the earliest stages of immigration and incorporation. Our findings are relevant to understanding the specific Vietnamese experience in the United States. They highlight the continuing but declining importance of the Vietnam War in creating close connections between Vietnamese and other people in the United States, even after the war had ended. The findings also suggest how these connections changed as a result of Vietnamese mass migration to America.