There has been a lot of debate among modern politicians and scholars about the levels of immigration and assimilation in the United States. Due to annual inflow of immigrants (more than 1,000,000 immigrants, predominantly nations of Latin American and Asian origin), racial ethnic structure of American population becomes increasingly diverse. At least, one can have a clear view of the situation, while examining statistic data in the U. S. in general. According to the recent census of enumeration, less than two thirds of Americans are white.
Some scholars claim that by 20010 Latin American population will exceed African Americans. Moreover, by 2030 one fourth of American population will represent either Latin American, or Asian race. American government puts no obstacles on the way of Asian immigration. By accepting new immigrants, the government manages to consolidate diverse ethnic groups in social, political and economic terms, providing them with a possibility to retain national identity peculiar to the immigrants’ culture and traditions.
However, Asian immigration rate quickly contributes to changes in racial and ethnic structure of American population. Moreover, Asian immigration poses a unique problem, while paving the way for numerous concerns upon America losing its ‘face’. The relationships between different ethnic groups are complicated by the fact that modern Asian immigration ‘settles on’ traditionally existing ‘layers’ of population in the United States. Specifically, the aspects of former slavery, the history of various conquests are often examined as important components of the modern diversity in the United States.
The paper explores the phenomenon of Asian immigration in capacity of one of the flexibility tests for social, cultural and economic structures of the United States, taking notice of the fact that discriminations, racial tensions, anti-Asian movements in the United States, work discrimination, attitude to the minority groups, earning disadvantage, illegal immigration, as well as inequality, issuing from all these factors, can be explored as the indications of ambiguity and variability of immigration historical processes in the United States.
The History of Asian Immigration in the United States Asian nations have been coming to American since 1849, when the first Chinese immigrants “traveled to the West Coast” in the gold rush. Since 1860 the first Japanese immigrants began arriving to Hawaii as laborers on the pineapple plantations. Further, in the early 1900s plenty of Koreans began immigrating to the same plantations. The immigrants were welcomed at those times because American felt lack in laborers. However, when the time changed the U. S. government started enacting numerous acts, which banned immigration of foreign workers.
In 1882, the U. S. government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, banning “further immigration of Chinese workers” . Further, the 1907-1908 Gentleman’s Agreement between Japan and the United Stated resulted in restricted immigration from Japan to the U. S. What concerns Korea, Korean immigration was restricted “from within their own country” . Finally, the Immigration Act of 1917 became the culminating point of anti-Asian immigration legislation. According to this Act, the inflow of immigrants from the area termed “the Asiatric Barred Zone” was restricted.
Fundamentally, this Act prohibited the immigration from “essentially every Asian country not covered by any previous restrictions” and the combined effect of these restrictions practically ended Asian immigration to American for the next fifty years. In 1965 the U. S. government passed the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments, which eliminated the restrictions and resulted in an explosive growth in the Asian community in America. According to Liz FitzGerald, “from to 1965, Asians represented 3% of all immigrants to the United States.
In the ten years following the passage of Hart-Celler, 34% of all immigrants to the United States were of Asian descent” Nowadays, according to 1996 US Census, people of Asian descent make up 9,743,443 people, 188,227 of whom live in Maryland. The Asian community in the United States grew significantly. Koreans and Chinese are the largest Asian ethnic groups, “each representing roughly 22% of the Asian population in the State” and followed by “Asian Indians, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Japanese, Cambodians, Thais and Laotians” . Asian Community
Asian immigrants join together to create numerous organizations aimed to provide support to their community, such as the Maryland Vietnamese Mutual Assistance Association, the Korean American Community Service Center, the Chinese Culture and Community Center, and many others. What is more, the majority of Asians have turned to the church. It can be illustrated by the fact that 75 per cent of Korean American families are Christian. Some scholars consider Asians to be a ‘model community’ who do not need help from the government of community at large.
Yet, the poverty rate among Asian immigrants was 8. 1 per cent (3% higher than the poverty rate for white families) , a significant part of Asians do not have a college degree, and feel lack in health care and other community services, predominantly due to their language and other barriers. Yet, the situation is not as poor as it seems to be. Despite the model minority myth, one-third of Asians own their own businesses, and “Koreans have the highest rate of business ownership of any group in the United States” .
The system called kye is one of the reasons why Koreans are so successful in their business ventures. Kye is a kind of money lending system, according to which people join together and contribute a certain amount of money to the key on a monthly basis. Then, the member of group, who is in greatest need, can take as much money from the kye as he needs . Still, due to dramatic cultural differences and being condemned by people in the neighborhoods Asians face a great deal of adversity.
The Impact of Continuing Asian Immigration on Asian American Life The impact of continuing immigration on Asian American life has both negative and positive consequences. It can be examined by the example of Americans of Chinese descent, because Chinese are not only of the largest ethnic group, but also a “predominantly immigrant community” and a “highly diversified population in terms of human profile” . According to statistic data, approximately 65 per cent of Chinese Americans were born overseas and arrived to the U. S. after the 1960s.
No wonder, such a highly diversified continuing immigration had a great implication for the Chinese American experience and transformed Chinese American life. It made profound changes in the human profile of Chinese population in America and considerably increased the “numerical strength of Chinese Americans” . In contrast to previous immigrants, the new immigrants are more educated people with “high level of professional proficiency” . Besides, the U. S. companies hire Chinese employees because they believe that employees’ Chinese background will be conductive to promoting their businesses in China.
Moreover, continuing Chinese immigration contributed to a phenomenon termed “brain circulation”, or “reverse brain drain” with patterns of transnational migration, resulting in a new trans-cultural identity. Asian Immigrants in the U. S. : Disadvantages, Racial and Discrimination Issues According to the past researches, Asian immigrants have lower earnings compared to white within the same levels of education. There is an assumption that these disadvantages “can be attributed to the lower value of foreign education in the U. S. job market” .
Despite Asian Americans enjoying a comparatively high socioeconomic standing in the U. S. society, their status can be characterized by a “high average and a large dispersion” . Surprisingly, but Asian Americans still face covert discrimination in the U. S. For example, they do not have the same opportunities in getting jobs correspondingly to their education level (compared to whites). Moreover, Asians receive no wages consummate with their levels of education and face the need in ‘overachievement in educational attainment’ to get an “overall parity with whites” .
This hypothesis was evaluated by analyzing a representative sample of 25- to 44- year old full time male workers of Asian descent. According to the research, the difference in earnings was associated with the effect of race (between U. S. born Americans and U. S. born Asian Americans), with the effect of nativity (between U. S. educated Asian immigrants and . S. born Asian Americans), and with the effect of place of education (between foreign educated Asian Americans and U. S. educated Asian immigrants). By this means, racial and discrimination issues still have great impact on the life of Asians in the U.
S. What concerns discrimination issues, a large part of hostile attitude to Asian immigrants derives from plenty of illegal immigrants from Asian countries to the United States. Despite the fact that the majority of illegal immigrants are of Mexican descent, Asians make up the second-largest undocumented immigrant group (with more than 500,000 Chinese smuggled into the U. S. since the late 1980s) . Illegal immigration has negative impact on the U. S. economy and raises numerous tensions in the country. Undocumented immigrants face numerous difficulties in order to survive in the country with no support.
They are forced to work in the service industry (e. g. there are approximately “50,000 restaurants, employing about 400,000 workers, in the U. S. owned and operated by Fujianese” ). The vast majority of ‘illegals’ are ‘plagued by limited resources and few transferrable skills’; they live in the poorest urban ghettos in a constant fear of “being caught and deported” . As one would expect, Asian immigrants, being the minority groups, are negatively targeted by the American population. Anti-Chinese movements assert that Asian, and specifically, Chinese immigrants, contributed nothing to the U.
S. economy. Moreover, it has been asserted that Asian immigrants severely hurt it, being depicted as unnaturally abstentious and excessively frugal nation. Besides, some Americans consider that the Depression cannot be understood without addressing the “Chinese Question” . The Chinese were blamed for being “the gravest danger to America’s workingmen” , because the Chinese were the ideal wage workers: numerous, hardy, uncomplaining, compliant and very cheap, working “without any goal beyond the labor itself” .
Yet, it seems that Asian immigrants impose no significant threat to the delicately balanced American economy, but rather a flexibility test for social, cultural and economic structures of the United States due to a simple fact. America is a community of immigrants, each of whom began a new life, enjoying equal opportunities. This is America’s secret, – it is a country that embraces people who forget no old traditions and have courage to explore new horizons.