Utah Governor Asks For More Refugees: An Immigrants Perspective

Nov 10, 2019

Early members of the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints found refuge in the territory of Utah in 1846 after being forced out of the state of Missouri by the governor. Nearly 175 years later, Utah’s governor has asked President Donald Trump to allow more refugees to locate in Utah.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert said the number of refugees settling in Utah has been declining and expects the decline to continue.  Because of Utah’s history as a place of refuge for those displaced based on beliefs,DHerbert is offering his state as a place that would like to welcome more refugees, like Thi Bui.

“I think that welcoming refugees has been a hallmark of many states. It’s not a Democrat or Republican issue, it’s a humane thing to do. To open your doors when you can,” Thi said.

Thi and her family moved to the United States to seek refuge after the Vietnam War. In her recent memoir, The Best We Can Do, she writes about the struggles she and her family faced when adapting to their new lives here in the United States. 

“It’s terrible to be seen as a threat or plague when all you want is for people to understand why you came. If you had a choice in the matter you wouldn’t have come, you would have stayed home where you belonged,” she said. “But you have no home, so now what do you do? You have to survive - no one just sits there and lets their kids die. The 71 million people in the world who are displaced right now are pretty much all the same, they are all looking for a place to call home."

Having lived in the United States since the 1970s, Thi is using her experience and her work as an author to help educate others about refugees and their contributions to a community.

“I just try to get everyone to look harder at the actual facts before making a decision because the response to shut down our borders, build walls, call people horrible things - that’s just an emotional response not based on any actual facts.” 

Thi Bui was in Utah last Thursday where she spoke about her memoir, The Best We Could Do, a graphic novel documenting her family's daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s.