A Hmong-American Veteran’s Take on the Syrian Refugees


As a child, I recall months of waiting in refugee camps as my family was being screened to come into the United States. When I was younger, I didn’t understand all the global politics and what was going on, all I knew was I wanted a home where my family and I could grow up and be safe. I can remember exactly where I was when I learned at the age of 8 that I would be coming to the United States and how relieved I felt when I knew I would have a place to call home.

The transition from refugee to resident and then citizen wasn’t easy, and there were some people who were less than hospitable. But overall, Eau Claire was a welcoming community, which I’m proud to call home. I was so thankful for all that I had received that when I turned 18 and graduated High School from North High, I proudly joined the US Marine Corps. During my service, I was deployed to Iraq for 14-months.

Chue Xiong in full gear during his service in the US Military

In the last few days we have witnessed a glimpse of what terrorists are doing around the world. After seeing these unspeakable acts of terror it should have made us more compassionate and supportive of the refugees fleeing for their lives. Instead some have chosen to fear and even hate these refugees fleeing the terrorists as if they are the terrorists.

I am most disappointed at the fact that the governor of my state has chosen to try and close our borders to the current Syrian refugees. Believe me when I say that every single family cleared to come the United States undergoes extensive background checks.

Eau Claire welcomed my family and me with open arms, and I will forever be grateful for that generosity. Our community is enriched by our diversity. We have nothing to fear from Syrian refugees. As a veteran and a former refugee, I can say with certainty that if we want to stand up to ISIS and thwart their agenda of terror, the most effective thing we can do is show compassion and support for the victims of ISIS fleeing persecution and death.

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About the Contributor:

Chue Xiong was born in the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp in Thailand in 1984. He moved to Minneapolis with his family in 1991 where his aunt and uncle supported his family as sponsors. Shortly after that his family settled in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He has an Associate’s Degree in Human Resources from Chippewa Valley Technical College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from UW-Stout, and is currently in the early stages of pursuing a Law degree.

Chue served his country in the Marine Corps from August 2003 to August 2007. His first duty station was in Okinawa Japan where he helped with the humanitarian effort in 2004 when a tsunami devastated Asia. His second duty station was Twenty-nine Palms California and from there he was deployed to Iraq for all of 2006. Chue’s occupation in the military was a Motor Vehicle Operator; he was the Platoon Sergeant, one of his tasks was to account for all personal in his platoon.

Chue is the first person of colour to be elected to serve on the Eau Claire Area School Board and works for a non-profit. He educates the local businesses on Hmong history. He also volunteers his time to mentor, educate, and empower minority youth.