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Khmer-American Attends U.S. Republican Convention

Khmer-American Attends U.S. Republican Convention

HOUSTON, Texas (AP)-In a convention of Texas oil men, Connecticut heiresses, and

Wall Street moguls, Samnang Siv Wilson can safely say she was the only Republican

delegate who carried her son out of Cambodia on her back.

Wilson, 37, a delegate from Boxford, Mass., was the lone delegate among 2,210 who

comes from Cambodia.

But while she was an anomaly, Wilson also represented a wing of the Republicans that

the party is actively cultivating.

In a break from the historic trend of immigrants gravitating to the Democratic Party,

the Republican Party wants to draw Asian Americans into its ranks as a new and growing

party base on the east and west coasts.

"I have been learning about American politics and I'm very attracted to the

Republican Party," Wilson said in an interview on the convention floor.

"I escaped from Cambodia in the darkness to come to Thailand and to the United

States. From day-one, I had a job. I never had to take welfare."

For Wilson, the convention marks the 12th anniversary of her escape from Cambodia.

During the Khmer Rouge regime she worked in an agricultural labour camp, losing most

of her extended family of 21.

With her four-year-old son strapped to her back, Wilson rode the roof of a train

to the Thai border and staggered through the dangerous buffer zone separating the

two countries.

After four months in a Thai refugee camp, she learned that her only surviving brother,

Sichan Siv-currently a member of George Bush's White House staff-had made it to the

United States.

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