De Le remembers landing in America at the age of 12, mesmerized by what he saw – cars, fast food places, the energy of people. It was the America he heard about ba ck in Vietnam while waiting for years to come here.
De’s father, Thuan Le, had served in the army of South Vietnam before the fall of the country to the communist north. Like other military and government officials who could not escape the fall of Saigon in 1975, h e was imprisoned for ten years in what the new government called “education camps.” But everyone in South Vietnam knew they were not for “education,” at least the kind of education that was to improve the mind.
De grew up, waiting for a father who never came home. While he and mother Hue waited, his father escaped to the Philippines. That’s when it became worse for De and his mother, who were continually harassed by gove rnment mercenaries trying to locate the whereabouts of his father.
Finally, De and mother got word that Thuan Le had made it to America. Finally, after years of waiting, Thuan Le was able to bring his family to America and California in 1987. Six years later, he died.
But not before giving what De, now 35, feels is the best gift he ever received – the ability to become a U.S. citizen. It is this abiding sense of love for his country that drove him to enlist in the U.S. Army, where he served in an artillery unit and to volunteer for community service and eventually run for San Diego City Council. He lost that race, but gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for what America is all about.
Which is why he has been going to the border in advance of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s visit to San Diego with signs that read “Close the Border. Vote for Trump,” or something similar. Said De: “It hurts me to think that an illegal id born here has the right to be president, but I can’t because I was not born in America. An illegal can become president, but I cannot.”
Le’s protests have drawn the attention of national media. He has been interviewed by newspapers in Boston, New York and Washington and appeared on CNN and on San Diego television, where he has been interviewed about his views.
“Politics is all about what you believe and not just supporting one party or another,” said De. “That’s why I support Donald Trump because I believe in what he stands for – a better America.
“I am the kind of person who thinks about this country. I saw Trump winning, winning and winning and I started looking at his campaign and what he was talking about. The man is saying what a patriot wants to hear about this country.”
“I am an immigrant. My father fought alongside America, was imprisoned and escaped and my family waited until they could come to America,” related De. “They came to America legally. Now I see all the illegals coming in, flooding the streets. I didn’t take notice until it could no longer be ignored.”
Not too long ago, attending a Trump rally in Orange County, he was roughed up by Trump opponents, which brought on several interviews by mainstream and ethnic media, all of whom asked him if he was concerned for his s afety.
“I am going there to exercise my rights,” De said. “Even if I have to, I will go by myself. I will be there to exercise my rights as an American.”