Academic journal article Development and Society

Twice-Migrant Chinese and Indians in the United States: Their Origins and Attachment to Their Original Homeland

Academic journal article Development and Society

Twice-Migrant Chinese and Indians in the United States: Their Origins and Attachment to Their Original Homeland

Article excerpt

Introduction

Under the impact of globalization, the international migration of people from less developed to highly developed Western countries and even some Asian countries has expanded (Castles and Miller 2009; Massey 1999). Among immigrant-receiving countries, the United States has annually received the largest number of immigrants in the contemporary mass migration period that began in the 1960s and 1970s. The United States has received over one million immigrants per year since the late 1980s. Contemporary immigrants to the United States include large numbers of the so-called "twice-migrant" people (Bachu 1985) who re-migrated from diasporic communities established outside of their original homelands. In particular, Chinese and Indian immigrants in the United States include very large numbers and proportions of twice-migrant people. As will be shown later in two tables, the most recent census data indicate that approximately 320,000 ethnic Chinese immigrants and 270,000 ethnic Indian immigrants are twice-migrant people who respectively comprise about 13% of Chinese or Indian immigrants. Small numbers of twice-migrant Chinese and Indians in the United States may be those who were born in China or India and migrated to another country and then re-migrated to the United States.

The remigration of huge numbers of ethnic Chinese and Indians from their diasporic communities is not surprising when considering the following two factors. First, as the two most populous countries in the world, China and India have the largest overseas populations scattered all over the world. According to Skeldon (2001), by 2000, approximately 33 million people of Chinese ancestry had resided outside of mainland China and Taiwan. Overseas Chinese are heavily concentrated in Southeast Asian countries. But they are also visible in other Asian countries, North America, South America, Oceania, Europe, and the Caribbean Islands. According to Non-Resident Indians Online, there are more than 29 million Indians outside of India. Indian diasporic communities are found in the Caribbean Islands, especially British Guyana and Trinidad/Tobago. But ethnic Indians have also settled in many other former British colonies, such as Fiji, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, and Canada, as well as Great Britain. Second, overseas Chinese and Indians, like Jews in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, are likely to have had a stronger motivation to emigrate to the United States and other Western countries than native people in their settlement countries, because of prejudice, discrimination, and anti-middleman violence they encountered there. We will return to this issue later in this article.

Two major research questions regarding twice-migrant Chinese and Indians in the United States are: (1) from what regions and countries of the world have they originated? and (2) to what extent do they attach to their original homeland, China or India, culturally and psychologically (in identity), compared to their countries of settlement prior to their remigration? Mittelberg and Waters (1992) used the term "proximal host" to refer to the nearest host group to which the host society assigns an immigrant group. The Chinese and Indian immigrants in the United States who have directly migrated from mainland China/Taiwan or India and their children comprise the proximal hosts for twice-migrant Chinese and Indians. The concept of the proximal host suggests that twice-migrant immigrant groups are likely to be gradually incorporated into their nearest host groups. However, how fast twice-migrant Chinese and Indians will be incorporated into the Chinese or Indian communities in the United States depends upon the level of their attachment to their original homeland, China or India. Given this, answering the second question, posed above, is very important.

Conducting a survey of twice-migrant Chinese and Indians who have originated from different countries to measure their attachment to China or India would be nearly impossible because there is no sampling frame. …

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