Making and Remaking Asian America through Immigration Policy, 1850-1990

Making and Remaking Asian America through Immigration Policy, 1850-1990

Making and Remaking Asian America through Immigration Policy, 1850-1990

Making and Remaking Asian America through Immigration Policy, 1850-1990

Synopsis

"In 1882, Congress enacted immigration legislation excluding "idiots," "lunatics," and "Chinese laborers." Eventually, a series of laws restricted the entry of every Asian group, though over a period of decades these laws were repealed one by one. The most dramatic change in immigration law came in 1965. Though designed to encourage European immigration, the unintended result of changes in the selection system was that the Asian immigrant population jumped from one million in 1965 to seven million in 1990. This is the first comprehensive study of how U. S. immigration policies have shaped - demographically, economically, and socially - the six largest Asian American communities: Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Asian Indian. For each group, the book offers detailed information, much of it previously unknown or too scattered to be useful, on gender ratios, age distributions, foreign- versus American-born ratios, geographic settlement, employment profiles, income, and poverty. The author also focuses on the impact immigration policies have had on three important areas of Asian American life experience - educational performance, political participation, and self-identity. He simply questions the validity of the images of Asian Americans as academic "whiz kids," their communities as relatively lacking in strong political interests, and the presence of a unified Asian American identity. Throughout, the author counters the frequent lumping together of Asian Americans by demonstrating their tremendous diversity of background, history, motivation, and achievement. As their numbers have grown, the visibility of Asian Americans has prompted policymakers, scholars, journalists, community organizers, activists, and, of course, restrictionists to take Asian Americans more seriously. At the same time, they have sometimes become the target of racist hostility, which is occasionally physical but more often sociopolitical and economic, such as the recent concerns over the disproportionate number of Asian Americans admitted to prestigious colleges and universities. Serious gaps in fundamental information about Asian America persist, leading to serious distortions. This pioneering work of research and analysis is intended as a step toward a better understanding of relationships and experiences that few have bothered to study." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

In 1882 Congress enacted immigration legislation excluding "idiots," "lunatics" and "Chinese laborers." Eventually, a range of policies and laws restricted the entry of every Asian group--including Filipinos, who began the twentieth century as U.S. nationals and hence were not subject to immigration laws. the number of immigrants from China, Japan, the Philippines, and India dropped sharply as a result.

These policies and their subsequent repeal shaped and reshaped Asian American communities. Beyond cutting back on new immigrants, they manipulated gender ratios that influenced population growth. the Chinese American population, for example, decreased from 1890 to 1920, and the Filipino American population began to decline by 1940; but the Japanese American population grew steadily because a higher proportion of Japanese laborers were able to send for spouses and children. By the end of World War II, exclusionary policies eased, more women were able to join their husbands, and the population of each group rose.

Changes to the immigration selection system in 1965 caused the most dramatic increase in Asian Americans--from 1 million in 1965 to over 7 million in 1990. Table 1 compares immigration rates for several Asian groups before and after 1965. Currently Asians are increasing faster than any other racial or ethnic minority in the United States. Between 1931 and 1965, however, they were a mere 5 percent of all those who entered the country legally. the accompanying figure illustrates that by the late 1980's and early 1990's, they were nearly half (48 percent) of all legal entries, with Latin Americans (35 percent) and Europeans (12 percent) accounting for most of the rest. Even so, Asian Americans are less than 3 percent of the entire U.S. population (see Table 2). Since . . .

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