United States is a home to immigrants, or at least in theory. However, history and present day event would prove it otherwise. As immigration policy change according to political climate, this puts thousands of immigrants unsure of their future.
1784- America trade with China began, North America exported items such as furs, sandalwood, and ginseng while China exported furniture, silk, and tea.
The 1790 Naturalization Act specified that “free, white persons” could become citizens; Asian immigrants were later classified as “aliens ineligible for citizenship,” excluding them from full incorporation into American society.
1815- Sino-U.S. maritime trade began bringing Chinese merchants into United States
1844- The Treaty of Wangxia
First treaty signed between United States and China after the First Opium War in 1842 which opened up China to trade with the U.S.
1848-1880- Waves of Chinese migrated to Golden Mountain after news of gold being discovered. The first Asians that arrived in the United States were Chinese people.
1850 People vs. Hall
The People of the State of California v. George W. Hall or People v. Hall. It was an appealed murder case in the 1850s in which the California Supreme Court established that Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants had no rights to testify against White Americans in court.
1852- Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry was sent to the Port of Japan by President Millard Fillmore as a part of gunboat diplomacy to force open Japanese ports to American trade.
1862- Chinese Police Tax Law
A California law which imposed a monthly tax only to adults of “Mongolian race” who worked in the mines or were hired to work in most businesses. It was an act to protect free white labor against competition with Chinese coolie labor, and to discourage the immigration of Chinese into the State of California
1868 Burlingame Treaty
It established a friendly relationship between the U.S. and China, including the encouragement of Chinese immigration but Chinese people had no rights to become citizens.
1870 Naturalization Act
It puts controls on U.S. immigration and limited naturalization to “aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent”, which means “whites” exclude all Asians from receiving citizenship”
1882 Chinese Exclusion Act
As white miners saw Chinese labor as a threat, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, which banned Chinese from immigrating to the United States.
1885-86 Anti-Chinese Riots Washington
After years of anti-Chinese sentiment stemmed from the Union Pacific Railroad company which hired Chinese as strikebreakers in 1875 and ended up in tragic riots. The Chinatown in Seattle was burned down during this riot. There were violent riots against Chinese people all across California, Washington, Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Alaska.
1898 U.S. Acquires Philippines from Spain
The United States won the Spanish-American War resulting in the Philippines gaining Spain as a territory. This marks the start of the Filipino migration.
1905 Anti-Japanese Movement
Started with the Anti-Chinese movement, Japanese and Korean immigrants also faced discrimination when they arrived in the United States with the efforts of politicians, intellectuals, and community leaders. 67 labor unions in San Francisco formed a Japanese and Korean Exclusion League.
1906 Filipino Migration to Hawaii
Hawaii Sugar Planters Association started recruiting workers from the Philippines in 1906 after immigration legislation limited their access to Chinese, Japanese, and Korean migrant workers. By 1930, about 100,000 Filipino workers had migrated to Hawaii.
1907 Asian Exclusion Act League
Due to the influx of Indian immigrants, the Japanese and Korean Exclusion League renamed themselves to the Asian Exclusion League.
1907-1908 Gentleman’s Agreement with Japan
The United States and Japan entered into an agreement in 1907 to hinder the migration of Japanese to the U.S. with a goal to reduce tensions between the two countries. Japanese government decided to deny passports to laborers seeking to enter the U.S. instead of U.S. restricting Japanese migration.
1910 Angel Island
San Francisco opened up Angel Island, which is off the coast of San Francisco as an immigration station. Many Asian migrants were unjustly held there or even turned away.
Many Asian Americans served in the war despite discrimination against Asian-Americans. In return of their service, they were awarded naturalization By the end of WW1 in 1918, there were about 180,000 Asian Americans living in the United States, including about 100,000 Japanese, 60,000 Chinese, and 5,000 Filipinos.
1917 Immigration Act
This act restricted immigration from anyone born in a geographically defined “Asiatic Barred Zone”.
1924 Immigration Act
This created a national origins quota to limit the number of immigrants by the country and excluded all immigrants from Asia.
1941 Pearl Harbor Attack
Discrimination against Japanese immigrants started after the Pearl Harbor attack.
1942 Japanese Internment Camps
President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the War Relocation Authority to forcefully move Japanese residing in America to internment camps. However, even with this discrimination, many first generation Japanese immigrants still joined the U.S. military despite the internment camp.
1942 Second War Powers Act
This Act was to open naturalization to many immigrant groups. This was created with intentions to naturalize persons that served in the U.S. military during WW2.
1943 Chinese Exclusion Act Repealed
In order to strengthen ties with China as an ally during WW2, which removed the annual quota that limited Chinese migration to 105 visas per year. Even with the removal of Chinese Exclusion Act, the Immigration Act of 1924 still was in effect, which meant that aliens including Chinese, who were ineligible for U.S. citizenship were not permitted to enter the U.S.
1945 End of World War II and the War Brides Act
At the end of WWII, Asians except Japanese who had fought in the war were given the option of U.S. citizen. By December 28th of 1945, the War Brides Act allowed the immigration of all non-Asian spouses and children of U.S. military personal.
1946 Luce-Cellar Bill
The bill was passed in 1946 to allow 100 Indians and Filipinos to be admitted in the US per year and allow them to be naturalized.
1947 War Brides Act modified
It was modified to include Asians as well, but the ban was lifted for only the spouses of U.S. military personnel and not children, and only if the marriage occurred no later than 30 days after the law’s enactment.
1948-1965 Indian Immigration
During this period of time, nearly 7,000 East Indians immigrated to the U.S., which was the largest number in history.
1950-1953 Korean War
Many Asian-Americans served in the Korean War, which helped to combat Asian discrimination in the United States.
1952 Immigration and Nationality Act
This Act ended the Asian exclusion from immigrating to the U.S. and created a preference system which was determined by skill sets and family ties in the United States. This Act eliminated laws preventing Asians from naturalizing and got rid of the Asiatic Barred Zone and allotted each Asian country a minimum of 100 visas annually. However, this allowed persons of Asian parentage and any nationality to receive visas under the generic quota for the “Asian Pacific Triangle” and ended up limiting Asian immigration, and the law resulted in allotting Asian quotas based on race rather than nationality.
1950’s-1960’s Asian-Americans elected to Congress
In 1957, Dalip Singh Saund became the first Asian-American to be elected to Congress. Then Hiram Fong became the first Chinese American Senator in 1959, and Daniel Inouye became the first Japanese American in the House.
1965 Immigration and Nationality Act
This Act is also known as the Hart-Cellar Act. It established an annual cap of 270,000 immigrants per year with no more than 20,000 from one country, abolished the discriminatory national origins quota system, and replaced it with preference system that was based on skills and family ties to the U.S.
1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act
This allowed undocumented person who had resided in the U.S. continuously since January 1st, 1982 to apply for legal status.
1990 Immigration Act
This Act of 1990 increased the annual visa cap to about 700,000, tripling the original number.
2012 Asians surpass Hispanics as the largest group of new immigrant in the U.S.
Asians were recorded to be the fastest growing racial group in the country as there was a record of 18.2 million Asians were living in the U.S.
2013 Immigration Reform Bill
In the spring of 2013, a comprehensive immigration reform was introduced to the U.S. Congress. This created the DREAM Act for persons of all ages, resulting in thousands of new visa allotments and a path to naturalization for undocumented persons living in the U.S.
2017 Trump Immigration Plan
The Trump administration proposed drastic cuts in legal immigration. The White House pressed to cut family sponsored immigration by as much as 40%.
2017 The RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment) Act
This was introduced in the U.S. Senate in 2017 to reduce the levels of legal immigrants by 50% by halving the number of green cards issued. This bill would also impose a cap of 50,000 refugee admissions a year and would end the visa diversity lottery.