Immigration and the Asian-American Experience

By Yin, Xiao-huang | The World and I, February 1998 | Go to article overview

Immigration and the Asian-American Experience

Yin, Xiao-huang, The World and I

The recent media coverage of the alleged Asian connection in political fund-raising has put Asian Americans into the unwitting limelight of national politics, but it also highlights an issue that so far has not received adequate attention--the impact of post-1965 Asian immigration on the Asian-American experience.

Over the past thirty years, the influx of Asian immigrants, which cuts across all levels of cultural, ethnic, and class identifications, has transformed the Asian-American community, making it predominantly first-generation and highly diverse. While the Asian-Pacific population in the United States grew from one million in 1965 to over nine million in 1995, the proportion of the native-born dropped from 60 percent to around 30 percent. The demographic transformation has also caused profound changes in the relative numerical strength of various Asian-American groups. Until the late 1950s, the Japanese were the largest group in the Asian communities, but immigration since the 1960s has moved the Chinese and the Filipinos far ahead of the Japanese and dramatically increased the populations of formerly marginal groups such as Koreans, Vietnamese, and East Indians. AS a result, Asian Americans today include virtually every ethnic group from Asia and the Pacific Rim.


Immigration during the past three decades has also greatly changed the human profile of individual Asian-American groups. For example, until the 1960s, the vast majority of Chinese Americans were Cantonese (from Guangdong Province in southern China) and their U.S.-born descendants, and the Filipinos were mainly migrant farm workers from the island of Luzon. In comparison, Chinese Americans today include immigrants from all over China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, as well as ethnic Chinese from Southeast Asia. The Chinese Student/Scholar Act of 1992 alone led over sixty thousand Chinese students and scholars to settle in the United States. Well-educated and highly professional, they have an impact on the socioeconomic structure of the Chinese-American community. In the case of Filipinos, internationalization of the nurse profession has brought thousands of Filipino nurses, mostly women, to the United States. Their arrival has changed the demographic characteristics and class dynamics of the Filipino-American community.

The effect of such massive and extremely diversified immigration on Asian Americans is manifold. The rapid growth of the population has boosted the political and economic power of Asian Americans and provided a critical mass for the development of Asian-American studies. Since Asian Americans are either the largest or fastest-growing minority group on campuses across the nation, their strong interest in Asian-American studies helps build up the discipline at a time when financial difficulty constrains curriculum development in institutions of higher education.

However, the vast differences in their emigration origins, political affiliations, cultural orientations, and socioeconomic status have also transformed Asian Americans into groups with separate or even conflicting interests. In a sense, Asian Americans today are a polarized community, consisting of two distinct groups--the "Uptown" and "Downtown." While the "Uptown," mostly U.S.-born or -educated Asian professionals living in the suburbs, have integrated into the larger society, the "Downtown," mainly working-class immigrants or refugees displaced by war and poverty, are struggling for survival in urban ghettos.

Divided by an enormous gap in almost every aspect of life, the two groups seem to share little in common in their dichotomous American experience. In reality, the daily life of a Hmong refugee in America is quite different from that of a medical doctor from Punjab. Furthermore, as newcomers, many recent immigrants have maintained close relations with their homelands in Asia. Their concerns about events in the old countries have complicated the focus of the domestic-centered Asian-American movement and damaged community unity. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Immigration and the Asian-American Experience


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.