2016 Great Immigrants Recipient

Jacqueline H. Nguyen
United States Circuit Judge
Born in:
Vietnam

“Although most Americans share an immigrant history, those who personally faced hardships like war, poverty, and persecution bring a fresh and powerful appreciation of America’s ideals of liberty and justice,” Jacqueline H. Nguyen wrote in the Mercury News in 2015. Nguyen was born in South Vietnam, the daughter of a South Vietnamese Army major who worked closely with U.S. intelligence officers. After the fall of the government to Communist forces, the family fled to the U.S. in 1975. At the age of 10, Nguyen and her family found themselves sharing an army tent with two other families in Camp Pendleton, California. They later moved to Los Angeles with $5 to start a new life. Her parents worked odd jobs to survive, and Nguyen helped her mother work late into the night, peeling and cutting apples and later running a small donut shop. She went on to obtain her law degree from UCLA. In 2012 the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly confirmed Nguyen to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit making her the first Asian-American female United States Circuit Judge. Updated July 2016

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