Title: The Evolution of Asian Immigration to the United States

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Sarah Ried

Professor Raymond Smith

Race and Ethnicity in American Politics

April 21, 2015

Issue Brief
Title: The Evolution of Asian Immigration to the United States
Keywords: Asian/Asian American, immigration, exclusion, cessation, quota, amendment
Description: Throughout American history, the status of Asian immigration to America has fluctuated greatly. Asian immigration began as a fairly unregulated process in the mid-1800s, shifted to complete cessation of Asian immigration in the late 1800s/early 1900s, and has now settled into a regulated process of immigration.
Key Points:

  • Asian immigration to America increased in the mid-1800s as a result of a growing job market for low-wage and labor positions

  • The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Asiatic Barred Zone Act of 1917 are passed and they stop all immigration from almost every Asian country

  • The Immigration Act of 1924 establishes a quota for Asian immigrants

  • The Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965 repeal all immigration quotas based on race and nationality

  • The fight for immigration reform today


Asian peoples settling in the United States can be dated all the way back to the early 1700s before America had even declared its independence. Chinese, Japanese, and Indian immigrants can be traced in the United States back to the early-mid 1800s and Korean and Filipino immigrants can be traced to the early 1900s.

sian american immigration over the past 200 years

But the issue of Asian immigration finds it start in the mid-1800s when there was a large influx of Asian Americans to America due to poor economic conditions in China, Japan, Indian, and others and the recent discovery of gold in America and the country’s expansion presented many new jobs and opportunities for immigrants. At this point official regulations were sparse, but many foreigners faced taxes for their occupation or for other conditions of being a non-citizen.

During this time Asian Americans faced a lot of discrimination in the workplace and in society as a whole. As the low-wage and laborer jobs started to dissipate, white Americans feared Asian American competition in the job market. At this time Chinese immigrants were the majority of Asian immigrants so they became the face of Asian immigration. Growing hostility towards Asian immigrants eventually led to the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. This act barred all laborers immigration from China to the United States, and because it was extremely difficult to prove one was not a laborer it put a very large halt on all immigration from China to the United States. Around the same time bans were set on Japanese immigrants as well and in 1917, the Asiatic Barred Zone Act extended this ban. This new act ceased immigration by all Asians and Pacific Islanders. These Acts stayed unchanged through the Immigration Act of 1924. This act set a quota for the number of immigrants allowed from a certain nationality to immigrate to the United States but continued to exclude Asians from entry. These acts represent the negative attitudes Americans had towards Asians at this time

Finally in 1965, the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments was passed and repealed all immigration quotas based on race and nationality. This act focused mainly on the reunification of families allowing an unlimited number of children under 21, spouses, and parents of U.S. citizens to immigrate, apply for permanent residence, and eventually become citizens. The quotas set were placed on professionals, laborers, and refugees. This act did a lot to mend relations between the U.S and Asian countries, a very important task for the United States, which was coming out as a world power.

Today, Asian Americans make up the largest immigrant group population as well as the fasting growing minority population in the United States, but they are still continually fighting for immigration reform.

http://www.pewresearch.org/files/2013/04/st_13.04.08_aa_population.pngThe Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus are working towards creating a clearer roadmap for Asian immigrants, continuing to reunite families and make it easier for families to stay together, helping immigrants integrate into American society, and finding the most effective and smart ways to enforce immigration laws. The status of Asian American immigration has fluctuated greatly over time, but the U.S. is now at a point where it can work towards the best possible immigration policy for everyone.
Works cited and References

  • Photo 1- "Asian immigration" by Dark_Tichondrias (talk) (Uploads) - Own work.

  • Photo 2- U.S. Asian-American Population, 2011. Digital image. Pew Research Center: Social and Demographic Trends. Pew Research Center, 28 June 2012. Web.

  • Le, C.N. 2015. "The First Asian Americans" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. (March 1, 2015)

  • Jalalpour, Ramses. "Asiatic Barred Zone." Immigration in America. N.p., 21 June 2011. Web. 01 Mar. 2015.

  • "The Immigration Act of 1924." The Immigration Act of 1924 (The Johnson-Reed Act) - 1921–1936 - Milestones - Office of the Historian. Office of the Historian, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

  • "CAPAC Immigration Priorities (113th Congress) | Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC)." CAPAC Immigration Priorities (113th Congress) | Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). The Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus, n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2015.

Relevant websites:

  • http://www.asian-nation.org/

  • https://history.state.gov/

  • http://capac-chu.house.gov/

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