Asians Americans are those members of the American population whose origin can be traced back to the Middle East and Asia as a whole. It is pertinent to note that this group of the American population identifies itself as Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and many other Asian affiliations . It is, therefore, clear that Asian Americans are drawn from various national backgrounds. Consequently, these immigrants speak a variety of languages and conduct practices that give them a cultural and social identity. This paper seeks to highlight Asian American immigration trend, challenges and contribution to the wider American society.
How Asian Americans came to the United States
The people who make up the Asian American community have been in the United States for an extremely long time now. The first entrants into the Western hemisphere were made up of Chinese Filipinos who made Mexico their new home. At around 1750, Filipino sailors made their way into the present day Louisiana. It was not until much later that immigrants from India, China and the Philippines were brought in as slaves.
In 1848, there was an enormous immigration trend of Asians into the United States of America. The mass immigration followed the discovery of gold in America with many Asians bearing hopes of gaining substantial wealth from the gold. Whereas these Asians came from various national backgrounds, the reasons for their migration to America were diverse. Some of the Chinese left were forced out of their own country by economic difficulties, which were triggered by the British dominance. In other words, Asian Americans came into America from Far East countries, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia too. They mostly came into America to serve as laborers, which explains why they had limited skills, earned meager wages and crowded into ethnic conclaves .
The Chinese men immigrants dream to make enough money from the discovered gold in California and return to their families was never fulfilled. Instead, they were kidnapped and made into slaves.
The Chinese immigrants used credit ticket system where they borrowed money from the Chinese broker hoping to return with interest when they make money in America. This was not achieved as planned leading to Chinese brokers losing a lot of cash. Unemployment also led to poverty hence lacking basic needs, for example, healthcare, clothing, food, housing and education.
- Economic pressure
There was high competition between the whites and immigrants for few jobs offered by the American government. The immigrants had no option but to work for less than the whites hence the money was not enough to cater for their families. The economic pressure created as a result of the competition led to introduction of taxes by the American government. Lack of uniformity in tax collection led to the immigrants paying more than they can afford.
The physical appearance and custom of the Asian Americans led to their social isolation and discrimination. The white settlers went as far as calling them “aliens”. Also, the immigrants were not allowed to become American citizens who were stipulated under the Naturalization Act of 1790.
- Poor working conditions
The immigrants worked in danger zones that had explosives. An instance is when they were lowered in cliff face to drill holes. Most of them died when the dynamite exploded. Despite working under these conditions, they still earned much lower than the whites.
- Language barrier
Poor communication between the immigrants and Americans led to immigrants not able to access the essential services like health facilities.
- Working on contract basis
The establishment of the plantations by the American sugar companies needed cheap labor. This was provided for by the immigrants from China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines. Instead of paying the workers for the job they have done, the immigrants had to sign contracts. . The contracts entailed working on the plantations for some years and the payment was in form of passage.
- Poor housing
The immigrants who worked on the sugar plantations in Hawaii were given houses depending on their marital status. The married were packed in single rooms while single men were put in bunkhouses. The little water provided to the immigrants was unsafe for use.
The immigrants were working for long hours. They were waking up as early as 5am and working till dusk. They were not given space to stretch and even beaten in the name of maintaining discipline. Despite all these, they were not paid for working overtime and sometimes not paid totally.
- Forced eviction
The number of immigrants in American was increasing drastically. This became a disturbing issue especially in the Northwest, Tacoma, Seattle and Rock Springs. The Americans resolved on forcing the immigrants to evict the areas. In some areas like Rock Spring, the eviction was not peaceful resulting in social unrest.
Impact of Asian Americans to American culture
Most of the American immigrants are the Philippines, china, Viet Nam and India. The high arrival of immigrants has contributed a lot to the norms, traditions and values to the American culture.
The severe shortage of doctors in America called for the U.S government to invite foreign doctors. India and Philippines had the most qualified candidates. This trend has continued for along time due to failure of the America medical schools to produce enough qualified medics.
Most of the highly learned population in America is composed of the Asian Americans. They therefore, contribute intensively to the growth of the America both economically and politically.
The Americans had large sugar plantations and gold mining areas that required labor. The labor provided by the whites was not sufficient enough and was quite expensive. This led to the outsourcing of cheap labor from the Asian countries. For easy transportation of slaves and laborers, roads and railway lines were constructed. The western half of the transcontinental railroad was constructed by the Asian Americans.
- Internet technology
Despite having isolated units during World War II where the Japanese air forces were separated from the U.S forces in the camps, the Asian Americans could not keep away from innovation. They developed and used yahoo and you tube which is the highly used technology now days all over the world.
They provided cheap labor especially ion sugar plantations in Hawaii. There innovation and technology helped in converting desert areas to fertile farmlands.
The Asian Americans were highly discriminated and mistreated in their working areas. The poor working conditions ranging from explosives, long working hours and poor climate made them to opt to self employment for instance restaurants. The Chinese introduced the use of charcoal instead of wood for cooking.
The Japanese Americans are among the highly ranked people in the US military. This is attributed to their patriotism and technological innovation during World War II.
The Asian American design aesthetics has contributed highly to the design industry of the Americans. The designs and decorations are very attractive hence contribute to the beautification and growth of the American economy.
The Asian Americans were not ready to practice the American religion. They therefore, practiced there different regions depending on where they came from. This is the reason for different religions in America, for example, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity.
Immigrants are not only in America but all over the world. Most people move away from their area of origin to look for greener pastures. War is another major contributor for immigration. . Immigration always comes with its consequences. If one is not persistent and hard enough will not achieve what he/she went for. Others may end up dead. Most immigrants bring about change in the areas they move to, for example, economy and culture. All in all the presence of Asians in America has done more good than harm. The whole essay discusses how these people have really contributed to every sector of the economy in America. Despite the challenges they faced, they still believe in themselves and participate daily in every activity which may lead to the development of America.
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