It was only as recent as 1965 that the Immigration and Nationality Act was passed that finally provided long-awaited to the Asian American community. The Act essentially lifted quotas on immigration. The result was as predicted. From a negligible one percent of the population in 1970, Asian Americans today make up nearly four percent of the population. They are also the country’s most rapidly growing community and the most affluent. That the community had carved a place for themselves amid wide-spread opposition and prejudice is a testament to their patience and tolerance (Brodey, p.701).
The political and military involvement of the United States in various Asian countries had also played a part in shaping the demographic character of the Asian population. Post Second World War, the passing of Luce-Celler Act in 1946 facilitated immigration of workers from India and Philippines. The end of the Vietnam and Korean Wars brought in immigrants from the Southeast Asian region. In either case, the émigré’s were mostly skilled professionals entering on temporary work visas (Post & Reva, p.441).
But amid all the human rights progress some darker realities lurk nearby. The legacy of the days of the exclusion laws still continues to this day. The Chinatowns that survive are remnants of those unjust laws. The racial atmosphere back then also gave birth to other laws that forbade Asians from owning property or testifying in court. The plight of the Asian American community is captured by the following words uttered by one from the group:
“My friends: in America, Asian is Asian – immigrant or native born. We may define ourselves proudly by ethnicity, but we live in a society that continues to define us by history. Ethnicity is important, but we have blood and geographic ties to a much larger commonality. We may act like we are in separate rooms in a big hotel, but when you come out of them, you’d have to be a blind man to not understand that we’re in this together.” (Cantor, p. 96)
The Asians have contributed so much to this nation, but these laws have prevented them from doing more. The conventional history book will inform the reader neither of the challenges nor of the achievements of this vibrant and versatile community.