Asian American Immigration



Beginning in the 1980s, we have been one of the fastest growing immigrant groups here in the United States. A 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act began to eliminate some of the anti-Asian racism. The act reunified families, protected the domestic labor force, and called for immigration of people with needed skills. It also made us eligible for citizenship, which we had long been waiting for. The 1965 Immigration Act abolished the national-origins quota system and created an annual quota of 20,000 of us Asians. Therefore, the amount of immigrants increased drastically as time progressed.


Almost ninety percent of Chinese immigrants were women between 1946 and 1952. About 348,000 of us came here from Hong Kong and Taiwan between 1941 and 1980. Beginning in 1981, the number of immigrants increased coming from the mainland as opposed to coming from Hong Kong and Taiwan. We reached a population of 1.6 million people between 1980 and 1990. By the mid-1990s we were approximately one-third of all Asian Americans.

As Chinese Americans, we are often mistaken for Vietnamese or Korean Americans. In 1994, Asian Americans were thought of as foreigners who consistently competed for jobs. We have been stereotyped as "model minorities" because we are ambitious and hard working. After the United States declared war on Japan in 1941, Time magazine wrote an article on how to tell the difference between the Japanese and us, which just goes to show how we are constantly being stereotyped.

Ever since the whole episode with John Huang, we have been considered "mysterious, underhanded, and corrupt." He illegally raised money in contributions, which made us look bad. Not only did his testimony give us a bad reputation, but the U.S Senate also made fun of the way he spoke (which in turn was making fun of our identity as a whole). There have also been images of Hilary and Clinton as Chinese Americans – slanted eyes and buck-toothed.


Verbal slurs are frequently made and hate messages are sometimes painted on our homes. Hate crimes reported to the police have decreased over the years. A lot of victims don’t report these crimes because we feel like it is a waste of money and time to go to court hearings. Some police officers do not treat us equally. Some of us also have difficulty talking with the police officers because we have trouble speaking the language and there is a lack of interpretive services.

We couldn’t believe it when we heard of the murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American, in Detroit in 1982. He was apparently mistaken for a Japanese American because two white workers who lost their jobs blamed the Japanese. The two men were fined and only sentenced to three years probation. Both victims were eventually acquitted which just goes to show how they don’t take our crimes as seriously as others.

Ming Hai Loo, another Chinese American, was mistaken for a Vietnamese American in 1989 in North Carolina. He was killed by two whites who were angry about U.S battle deaths in Vietnam. They, too, received more lenient punishments than usually given in North Carolina. These two cases go to show that we are often confused with those belonging to other Asian American groups, and that we are not treated fairly.


We, as Asian Americans, have become more involved in the political system. Two have been U.S. Senators. On the other hand, there has been limited representation in most places except for Hawaii. Factors that contribute to our under representation is that our voting rate is low, there is a lack of interpretive services, and there is a strong feeling of prejudice against us. Twenty organizations came together in 1997 to form the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), which was established in order to help our civil rights. The Multicultural Association for Voter Registration was also established in order to encourage people of color to vote.

Our political activity increased between 1917 and 1920. We had a newspaper called the Chung Sai Yat Po (CSYP) that helped support our civil and political rights, including equality among Chinese women. Although political activity among our people is limited due to problems with the English language, more and more are now becoming involved than ever before. We need to stand up for ourselves like we did in Monterey Park, Ca. There, we refused to accept the idea that English be the official language of the area, when we made up 75 percent of the population.

In the 1990s, we began to have even more power when Gary Locke was elected governor in Washington State and Daniel Akaka served in the U.S. Senate. In the late 1990s, most of us were voting for Democratic Party candidates.


We are less likely to hold managerial positions than white men with the same qualifications. We are, however, hired for research and engineering. They also feel like they can fire us easily because we usually do not complain. Some of us, as women, face sexual harassment because we are not fully aware of our legal rights.

During WWII, a lot of us were factory workers in defense plants. Craft, technical, and professional occupations more than doubled between 1940 and 1950. Women also had the opportunity to work in war industries. Many of us do not have a sufficient amount of money, lack necessary skills, and have trouble speaking English. Most of us have settled in New York City and San Francisco where pay in low and conditions are poor. The 1990 census showed that 11 percent of us live below the poverty line.

Those of us who are well educated, on the other hand, have found better jobs as engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and doctors. Some of us were trained in China, while others were educated in Taiwan before coming to the United States. U.S born Chinese Americans tend to be more educated and make a higher income.





Students, who do not know the English language well, have a higher dropout rate and receive lower grades. School authorities don’t seem to show concern with our language deficiency. In general, we usually excel in the sciences, which places pressure on most students to do well in school.


Extra Information:

#1 - Illegal immigration

#2 – map of China

#3 – Time line

Filipino Immigration to the United States after World War II


Post WWII Immigration

My people did not really even begin to come to the United States until the 1960s. This was mainly due to the anti- Asian feelings felt by many whites in the the time. Because the Immigration Act of 1924 brought about a lot of Asian racism, many of our people decided not to immigrate. In 1952, however, The Immigration and Nationality Act tried to reunite our families and bring more of our people in with needed skills for jobs that were available at the time. This Act was well liked by my people for it allowed for my people to finally become citizens of the United States. Later, our people benefited from the 1965 Immigration Act, as it allowed many of my people to immigrate as many of the Eupopean groups were allowed. Through this Act, approximately 20,000 of our people were able to enter the U.S. Filipinos, however, were still not allowed to hold high professional positions such as lawyers or doctors.

When World War II first started, because our people were not yet citizens of the U.S., we could not be drafted or be in any way involved in the U.S. armed forces. We were basically granted citizenship because it made no sense for the United States to be fighting for Philippine freedom from the Japanese when the country was denying us the right to citizenship. Many of our men were then recruited into the army or navy.

Our people really began entering the U.S. in the mid 1900s. Between 1950 and 1970, our population in the U.S. almost doubled. In search of better economic opportunities, more and more men, women and children came to the US in search of jobs and also to find family members of previous immigrant waves. Still, most of our people were limited to low paying jobs during this time, doing a lot of labor related work in their new homes.

Filipino immigration has continued even into the present. My people today make up the second largest Asian group in the United States. We are the largest Asian group residing in California and many of our people also live in the midwest even today.


The U.S. armed forces started recruiting our men in the 1950s and 60s. Many of my people also began to enter the workforce at this time. The Navy took on many of our men residing in the Philippines at the time. Because of the constant recruitment of our people into the services, many communities of Filipinos began to surface on the West Coast. Because of political and economic problems, many professionals left the Philippines to go to the U.S. during this time. Many were scientists, nurses and engineers. Because so many immigrated to the U.S., our homeland in the Philippines was left without people to hold professional positions. The U.S. began to become more and more popular to our people as problems in our homeland grew worse.

Despite the arrival of many of our people serving as professionals in the U.S., we were still not seen as equal. There still remained much economic inequality between the white-Americans and ourselves, as our men were only getting about 2/3 of the pay of whites and women were receiving about ˝ the amount of white men. In comparison to the white men in the U.S., our men usually took on jobs as accountants and civil engineers and the women usually became nurses and schoolteachers. Whites usually carried positions of much higher caliber, serving as doctors, lawyers, administrators and managers. Like the Chinese, our people mostly hold service jobs and are a lot less likely to hold high blue-collared jobs than whites. Our people have experienced and still face much job discrimination today.

The 1990 unemployment rate for our group of Filipino Americans, however, was lower than that of the U.S. population as a whole. Our people now stand in society with a high average family income, one third greater than the national average. This is because more of our family members work on average than the general United States population. Because most of our people live on the West Coast, living costs and wages are much higher. Our people also have the lowest family poverty rate of any other Asian group in the United States.


Our people have established many groups and organizations in order to get more Filipinos involved in political participation. We have fought for immigration laws, as well as for a chance to see some of our people take an office. One of our most important causes to take action was to pass the Filipino Veterans Equity Act, a law that would finally give our veterans of World War II the benefits given to all other members of the armed forces by the United States government. Since many Filipinos were denied citizenship or benefits promised to them during the War, this act was set up to treat Filipino veterans as equals.

Not many members of our group have been elected for offices. Even though our population in California is so high, in the mid 1990s, none of our people were members of the legislature in California. Our representation in the government does not reflect of high citizenship numbers in the U.S, however, constant contact with our homelands in the Philippines, as they cry for help with economic troubles, seems to provide our people with a great sense of Filipino American pride. Our people definitely want to get involved in the politics of the U.S. so that they can finally see themselves as true citizens of the United States. .



Korean Americans- life in America

During the heavy U.S. involvement in the Korean War in the 1950s, the people of South Korea came to admire Americans and see the United States as prosperous. Strong U.S. support for South Korea built strong political and economical ties between the two countries. Most Koreans who immigrated between 1950 and 1965 were wives of U.S. soldiers, escaping the immigration quota system. The changes in the immigration laws in 1965 opened new possibilities for immigration. The lack of economical or educational opportunities in my country-Korea compared with those in the United Stated has stimulated emigration. Between 1920 and 1965, only a few thousand Koreans entered each year, but after the 1965 Immigration Act the number began to increase to over 30,000 within a decade. During the 1980s, the Korean American population doubled, to 12% of the Asian American population. However, since the peek of Korean immigration in 1987, the numbers have decreased due to improvements in South Korea’s economy. We also became less fond of America after the 1992 Los Angeles riots targeted at our businesses. The 1992 Los Angeles riots included the looting and burning of 2,000 Korean owned businesses by black and Latino residents. There has been a long- standing problem between us and blacks. Many of my people have become self-employed entrepreneurs in low income black and Latino areas because of exclusion their original trained professions. Because of discrimination and language barriers, we actually prefer the freedom of self-employment. However, we have still not fully succeeded in America, we still have the second highest poverty rate of Asian groups. In more recent years Korean Americans have gained more political visibility. Koreans and other Asian Americans became active in supporting Democratic Party candidates. Many Korean Americans maintain close ties to Korea still. (Feagin, 1999)

Post World War II

Korea was very much involved in WWII, while facing our own conflicts entering the Korean War. On August 24, 1945, President Truman authorized a line of demarcation in Korea to ease the surrender of Japanese forces. Soviet forces accepted the surrender of Japanese troops north of the 38th parallel; and U.S> received the south. This came to be known as the division of North and South Korea. In 1947, the Soviets refused to admit a U.N. commission to hold free elections in North Korea, so in 1948 elections were held only in the southern half. In 1947, American entered the ‘Cold War’ with the soviets. The U.N. passes another resolution for Korean independence. The Soviets refuse to allow UN members to enter N. Korea, this marks the beginning of the permanent division of Korea. In 1948, the Republic of Korea is established (formerly South Korea) and the Democratic People’s republic of Korea is established in North Korea. In 1950, the U.N. sent troops to assist South Korea. In July 1953, an armistice agreement brought an uneasy truce between North and South Korea; now the south survived the war and needed to be reconstructed.

The Korean people, one in race, language and culture and culture, fervently desire to live in a unified and independent Korea. When, as the division of my country and the conditions that arose disappear, it will be possible for the my people both North and South to come together, to live in peace and to build the strong foundations of a free, democratic Korea.

Recently added: 4/23/00

Vietnamese Immigration Post WWII

The immigration of Vietnamese to the United States is a relatively new process that started right after the Vietnam war ended in 1975 and continues today. The first wave of immigration to America consisted of 130,000 people who came after the collapse of the Thieu regime in 1975. The Vietnamese fled because they were unsure about the future of their country and because they wanted a better life for their children. Between 1978 and 1981 over a million Vietnamese and Chinese-Vietnamese left their country on boats. Not all of these people went to the US because it was both very far and very dangerous, but at least 175,000 did arrive in America by 1980. In order to get out of Vietnam many had to bribe officials with gold so they could leave the country in secret. This left many of them with no money at all to help start a new life when they arrived in America.

These boat journeys were very dangerous and it was estimated that roughly a third of all those who fled by see died. The reasons for this large proportion of deaths were attributed to Thai sea pirates, violent storms, and shortages of food, water and fuel supplies. Many of the refugees who used boats to flee Vietnam went to other countries such as Malaysia and then took a plane to the United States.

After the first wave of immigrants the percent of Vietnamese Americans between 1980 and 1990 grew 142 percent. Currently, 80 percent of Vietnamese Americans are foreign-born; this percentage explains to us why the Vietnamese culture is still very prominent and important in present Vietnamese families and communities. The Vietnamese contrast with other groups such as Irish, Italians, and English who don’t have such strong cultural ties. This is primarily due to the simple fact that the Vietnamese haven’t been in the US as long and thus are lower down on the "assimilation ladder" discussed in the Straight-line theory.

Since the Vietnamese still had such strong cultural influence they ended up taking jobs that were similar to those they had in their homeland. Fishing was a big part of life in Vietnam so many new immigrants in the late 1970’s moved to fishing communities on the Texas Gulf Coast. They got low paying jobs cleaning fish, working in restaurant kitchens, and working on fishing boats.

At fist, the whites tolerated the Vietnamese presence because they had jobs that nobody wanted anyway and because they offered no competition to white businesses. However, soon the Vietnamese bought shrimp boats and began to compete with the white fishing businesses. This changed the attitudes towards the new immigrants from tolerable of abominable. Many white turned to the Klu Klux Klan for help in order to "protect their industrial interests." There have been many cases since the late 70’s of racial violence towards Vietnamese not only in the fishing communities but also in places such as Boston and California. "Boston had 339 civil rights crimes reported in 1980 with many of them targeting Vietnamese immigrants." California also had problems with racism in the early 90’s because o their large Vietnamese population of nearly 71,000 in Orange County.

In terms of social and political success, the Vietnamese have come a long way considering they began to arrive only twenty-five years ago. In the early 90’s the Vietnamese community of Southern California was formed. This organization united over 300 Vietnamese American organizations to develop immigrant, employment, and youth programs. The Vietnamese have also created many local institutions and organizations such as temples and Vietnamese radio stations.

Economically, the Vietnamese were very well capable to get good jobs in America but they didn’t get jobs that reflected their potential. "One 1977 survey found that more than six in ten of those immigrants who had held white-collar jobs in Vietnam held blue-collar jobs at the time of the study…less than one in five of those who were employed as professionals in Vietnam had been able to find similar work in the United States." The median family income for Vietnamese Americans in the early 90’s was $30,550 while the median for European Americans was $37,628. It is estimated that almost one fourth of Vietnamese American families were living in poverty in the early 90’s. The reasons the Vietnamese have had economic problems are racism, low English vocabulary and comprehension, and not having as many connections as and average European American might have when looking for a job.

The Vietnamese have adapted to the American culture while at the same time keeping their values and religion intact. Many Vietnamese wear American clothes and listen to American music however, at the same time, their taste is different from that of European Americans. Vietnamese also have different values, ones that were passed down through the generations for hundreds of years. These include high educational expectations and strong family ties and commitments. The Vietnamese also live in neighborhoods that are predominantly Asian or Vietnamese such as Orange County in California. Vietnamese is also still widely spoken; in a survey it was found that the language was still dominant in 83 percent of households. This highlights the fact that the Vietnamese are a relatively new immigrant group and therefore still have much of their culture intact.