Hmong Americans are Americans of Hmong descent from Southeast Asia, most notably from Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. Hmong Americans are one group of Asian Americans. Many Lao Hmong war refugees resettled in the US following the North Vietnamese invasion of Laos and Laotian Civil War during the Vietnam War. Following the Vietnam People’s Army invasion and take over of the Royal Kingdom of Laos, beginning in December 1975, the first Lao Hmong refugees arrived in the US, mainly from refugee camps along the Mekong river in Thailand. Thousands of Lao Hmong fled persecution, human rights violations, military attacks, ethnic cleansing,and religious freedom violations, at the hands of Marxist and communist forces, including those of the Lao People’s Army. However, despite the tens of thousands of Hmong people persecuted and killed, only approximately 3,466 were reportedly granted asylum as official refugees at this time under the Refugee Assistance Act of 1975.
Initially only 1,000 Hmong people were evacuated to the US. In May 1976, another 11,000 Hmong were allowed to enter the United States. By 1978 some 30,000 Hmong had immigrated to the US This first wave was made up primarily of men directly associated with General Vang Pao’s Secret Army, which had been aligned with US war efforts during the Vietnam War.
States with the largest Hmong population include: California (86,989; 0.2%), Minnesota (63,619; 1.2%), Wisconsin (47,127; 0.8%), and North Carolina (10,433; 0.1%), Michigan (5,924; 0.1%), Colorado (3,859; 0.1%), Georgia (3,623; 0.03%), Alaska (3,534; 0.5%), Oklahoma (3,369; 0.1%), and Oregon (2,920; 0.1%). The metropolitan areas of Fresno and Minneapolis-St. Paul have especially large Hmong communities. St. Paul, Minnesota has the largest Hmong population per capita in the United States (10.0%; 28,591 Hmong Americans), followed by Wausau in Wisconsin. 3,569 Hmong people live in Wausau (9.1% of its population).
Today, according to the 2010 US Census, 260,073 people of Hmong descent reside in the United States up from 186,310 in 2000. The vast majority of the growth since 2000 was from natural increase, except for the admission of a final group of over 15,000 refugees in 2004 and 2005 from Wat Tham Krabok in Thailand. Of the 260,073 Hmong-Americans, 247,595 or 95.2% are Hmong alone, and the remaining 12,478 are mixed Hmong with some other ethnicity or race. The Hmong-American population is among the youngest of all groups in the United States, with the majority being under 30 years old, born after 1980, with most part-Hmong are under 10 years old.
Office of Refugee Resettlement. 1982-2001. Annual Reports to Congress (Fiscal Years 1981-2000).
U.S. Census Bureau. United States Census 2010.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 2010 Statistical Yearbook of Immigration Statistics.
*Refugee Arrival statistics for FY 1975-1980 are from Rumbaut (2000: 182).