San Diego State University Educational Innovation Questionnaire

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invectives were routinely slung at him there, and he’s happier now in a technology firm owned and
staffed by other hyphenated Americans. But the last several years have taken their toll. I ask him about
life after September 11 for Arab Americans. “We’re the new blacks,” he says. “You know that, right?”
—Moustafa Bayoumi (2008, pp. 1–2)
Sade’s comparison between Arab Americans and blacks may be overstated, but there’s no question that America
finds itself in a new era of group relations today. The traditional minority groups—black Americans, Mexican
Americans, and others—have been joined by new groups from places that most Americans couldn’t find on a map:
Armenia, Zimbabwe, Bhutan, Guyana, and Indonesia, to name a few.
What do these newcomers contribute? What do they cost? How are they changing America? What will the country
look like in 50 years? At the beginning of this book, we asked, “What does it mean to be an American?” How will
that question be answered in the future?
The world is on the move as never before, and migration connects even the most remote villages of every continent in a
global network of population ebb and flow. As you’ve seen, people are moving everywhere, but the U. S. remains the
single most popular destination. Migrants will pay huge amounts of money—thousands of dollars, veritable fortunes in
economies where people survive on dollars a day—and undergo considerable hardship for the chance to reach America.
What motivates this population movement? How does it differ from migrations of the past? What impact will the newcomers
have on America? Will they embrace American culture? What parts? How well will they integrate into American society, and
in which parts of it?
We’ve been asking questions like these throughout this book. In this chapter, we focus specifically on current immigrants
and the many issues raised by their presence. We mentioned some groups of new Americans in Chapters 7 and 8, but we’ll
elaborate in this chapter. We begin by addressing recent immigration generally. Then, we’ll consider additional groups of
new Americans, including Hispanic, Caribbean, and Asian groups; Arabs and Middle Easterners; and immigrants from
sub-Saharan Africa. We hope this will help broaden your understanding of the wide variations in culture, motivations, and
human capital of the current immigrant stream to America.
Next, we’ll address the most important and controversial immigration issues facing America. We’ll conclude with a brief
return to the traditional minority groups: African Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color who still face
issues of inequality and incomplete integration, and who must now pursue their long-standing grievances in an atmosphere
where public attention and political energy are focused on new groups and issues.
CURRENT IMMIGRATION
As you know, the United States has experienced three different waves of mass immigration. In Chapter 2, we discussed
the first two waves (see Figure 2.2). The first wave, from the 1820s to the 1880s, consisted of mostly Northern and
Western European immigrants. The second, from the 1880s to the 1920s, brought primarily Southern and Eastern
European immigrants. During these two periods, more than 37 million people immigrated to the U. S., an average rate of
about 370,000 per year. These waves of newcomers transformed American society on every level: its neighborhoods, its
cities, its cuisine, its accents and dialects, its religion, its popular culture, and so much more.
The third wave of mass immigration that we’re experiencing promises to be equally transformative. This wave began after
1965 (when the U. S. changed immigration policy) and includes people from around the world. Since the mid-1960s, over
30 million newcomers have arrived (not counting undocumented immigrants). This rate of more than 670,000 people per
year is much higher than the earlier period; however, the rate is lower as a percentage of the total population. Figure 9.1
shows that the number of legal immigrants per year has generally increased over this period, at least until the U.S.
economy soured in more recent years.
Description
Figure 9.1 Number of Legal Immigrants to the United States, 1960–2017
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security (2017a).
The official record for most immigrants in a year was set in 1907, when almost 1.3 million people arrived in America. That
number was almost equaled in 2006 and, if undocumented immigrants had been included in the count, the 1907 record
would have been eclipsed several times since the 1960s. (Again, though, remaining a smaller percentage of the
population.)
The more recent wave of immigration is much more diverse than the first two. In 2017 alone, immigrants arrived from 199
separate nations—from Afghanistan and Albania to Zambia and Zimbabwe. Almost 40% were from Asia, about 15% were
from Mexico alone, and approximately 8.6% of the newcomers were from Europe. Figure 9.2 lists the numbers for the top
25 sending nations for 2017. Note that the number of Mexican immigrants is more than double the number from China, the
next-highest sending nation. Also, note the variety of nations and regions of origin. Immigration to the U. S. is truly a global
phenomenon!
How will this new wave of immigration transform America? How will these new immigrants be transformed by living in
America? What do they contribute? What do they cost? Will they adopt the ways of the dominant society? What are the
implications if they don’t?
We begin by reviewing several case studies of new Americans, focusing on information and statistics comparable to those
in Chapters 5 through 8. Each group has had members in the U. S. for decades, some for more than a century. However, in
all cases, the groups were quite small until the latter part of the 20th century. Although they’re growing rapidly, all stay
relatively small, and none makes up more than 1% of the population. Nonetheless, some will have a greater impact on
American culture and society in the future, and some groups—Muslims and Arab and Middle Eastern Americans—have
already become a focus of concern and controversy because of the events of September 11 and the ensuing war on
terrorism.
Description
Figure 9.2 Number of Legal Immigrants for the Top 25 Sending Nations, 2017
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security (2017a).
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
1. What are some key differences between the first two waves of mass immigration from the 1820s to the 1920s
and the current, post-1965 wave?
2. Why is the current wave of immigration so diverse? What are the possible outcomes, positive and negative, of
this diversity for the future of American society?
NEW HISPANIC GROUPS: IMMIGRANTS FROM THE DOMINICAN
REPUBLIC, EL SALVADOR, AND COLOMBIA
Immigration from Latin America, the Caribbean, and South America has been considerable, even when excluding Mexico.
As with other sending nations, the volume of immigration from these regions increased after 1965 and has averaged about
200,000 per year. Generally, Latino immigrants—not counting those from Mexico—have composed about 25% of all
immigrants since the 1960s (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2016).
The sending nations for these immigrants are economically less industrialized, and most have long-standing relations with
the United States. In Chapter 7, we discussed the roles that Mexico and Puerto Rico have played as sources of cheap labor
and the ties that led Cubans to immigrate to America. The other sending nations were similarly linked to the U. S., the
dominant economic and political power in the region.
Although the majority of these immigrants bring modest educational and occupational qualifications by U.S. standards, they
tend to be more educated, more urbanized, and more skilled than the average citizens of their home nations. Contrary to
popular belief, they don’t represent the poorest of the poor, the “wretched refuse” of their homelands. Similar to immigrants
in the first two waves, they’re generally ambitious, as evidenced by their willingness to attempt to succeed in a society that
hasn’t been notably hospitable to Latinos or people of color in the past (Florida, 2017). For example, in 2016, immigrants
were twice as likely to be new entrepreneurs compared to U.S.–born entrepreneurs (Kauffman Index of Startup Activity,
2016). In 2014, immigrants generated more than $4,800,000,000 and employed about 19 million Americans (Kosten, 2018).
As you’ve read in Chapters 1, 7, and 8, most immigrants are fleeing extreme poverty or joblessness and they’re also trying
to seek opportunities for educational and professional advancement, for themselves or their children, generally not
available in their home countries (Feliciano, 2006; Portes & Rumbaut, 1996). However, many leave for reasons such as
violence and rampant crime and corruption (Hayes, 2018; Nuñez, Sepehr, & Sanchez, 2014).
This characterization applies to legal and undocumented immigrants alike. Moreover, the latter may illustrate the point
more dramatically, because the cost of illegally entering the U. S. is considerable—much higher than legal entry. Forged
papers and other costs of being smuggled into the country easily amount to many thousands of dollars, a considerable
sum in nations where the usual wage is a tiny fraction of the U.S. average. Thus, the venture may require years of saving
or the combined resources of a large kinship group. However, many people make that decision because chances of legal
admission are slim (Levy, 2018). (For an example of someone’s $12,630 journey from El Salvador that describes
conditions in “stash houses,” bribes to police, and kidnapping, see Kulish, 2018.)
Examining refugee applications for the most desperate of all migrants provides insights. After the Holocaust, 145 countries,
including the U. S., signed the 1951 United Nations’ Refugee Convention, vowing to protect anyone whose “life or freedom
would be threatened” based on their race, religion, nationality, group membership, or political views (United Nations Refugee
Agency, 1951, p. 3). Those protocols have changed occasionally, as has U.S. policy.
In fiscal year 2018, federal policy became stricter in two significant ways. First, it limited the number of refugees to 45,000.
Of those, 22,491 were approved—almost four times less than in 2016—the lowest number since Congress created the
Refugee Resettlement Program in 1980. Put another way, that’s just 0.00087% of the world’s 25.9 million refugees. In
fiscal year 2019, the U. S. will decrease the cap to 30,000 refugees, even while 800,000 others have pending cases
(Lopez & Bialik, 2017; Migration Policy Institute, n.d.; Pompeo, 2018; United Nations, 2017, p. 8).
Second, the government reversed position on the Convention guidelines, upheld in 2014 by the U.S. Board of Immigration
Appeals, that domestic violence fell under the “group membership” designation for protection (based on gender) as did
gang violence (because gangs often target specific groups). People seeking asylum from gang or domestic violence rarely
get it and this change will make it harder. This decision will particularly affect people fleeing widespread violence in Central
America, who already had rejection rates of 77%–90% for fiscal years 2011–2016 (Benner & Dickerson, 2018; Meyer &
Pachico, 2018; TracImmigration, 2016).
Thus, many decide to attempt illegal entry. The passage can be extremely dangerous, particularly for Latin Americans (e.g.,
Hondurans, El Salvadorans) who may walk 1,000 miles or more in challenging terrain with limited necessities before
reaching the U.S. southern border. For example, it would take 38 days to walk the 1,125 mile route from the Guatemalan–
Mexican border to the border at McAllen, Texas—walking 10 hours a day at three miles per hour. It’s more than double that
to reach the California border (Giaritelli, 2018). That’s before delays. This requires a level of courage (or desperation) that
many Americans don’t often associate with undocumented immigrants.
Rather than attempting to cover all South and Central American groups, we’ve selected three of the largest as case studies:
the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Colombia. In recent years, these three groups have made up 7% to 8% of all
immigrants and about 30% of the immigrants from Central and South America and the Caribbean. These groups had few
members in the U. S. before the 1960s, and all have had high rates of immigration over the past four decades. However,
the immigrants’ motivation and experiences has varied across groups.
Three Case Studies
Table 9.1 presents some basic information about the groups. These data were mentioned in Chapter 7 but we repeat it
here to provide a common frame of reference for the groups in this chapter. As you’ll see, each of these groups has a high
percentage of foreign-born members. As with other first-generation immigrants, proficiency in English is—predictably—an
important issue. Although Colombian Americans approach national norms in education, the other two groups have
relatively low levels of human capital (education). They’re well below national norms for income and have higher rates of
poverty.
Although these groups share commonalities, they have important differences. First, they differ in their “racial” makeup, with
Dominicans seemingly more African, Colombians more European, and Salvadorans more Indigenous American—though
there’s variation within groups. In Chapter 7, we mentioned National Geographic’s Genographic Project, which seeks to
understand human migration over time (including the degree of mixing between groups) by looking at DNA samples. Their
results show Colombians’ DNA as primarily related to Southern Europeans (38%), Indigenous Americans (28%), and
Western and Central Africans (17%), reflecting the original population, European colonizers, and enslaved people from
Africa. Dominicans’ backgrounds were primarily related to groups in Africa (49%) and Europe (about 40%; 29%
Mediterranean, and 11% Northern European) though 4% was linked to indigenous groups (e.g., Taino people—see Puerto
Ricans in Chapter 7) and was some related to Asia (National Geographic, 2017).
Table 9.1 Selected Characteristics of Three Hispanic American Groups and Non-Hispanic Whites, 2017 Group Size Percentage
Percentage Percentage Percentage Median Percentage
with Less
Diploma
Than a High with a
School
College
Degree or
Who Speak Well”
More
English Less Household
Foreign Born Than “Very Income
of Families in
Poverty
Non
Hispanic
whites
204,221,676
Dominican
s
2,081,419
Salvadorans
Colombian
s
1,222,960
35.8
4.1
1.6
$65,696
6.2
27.7
18.3
53.8
41.7
$43,851
20.9
45.0
10.2
57.1
47.9
$52,118
15.1
12.2
33.4
61.6
37.7
$58,847
9.5
Source: U.S. Census Bureau (2018a). American Community Survey, 2017 1-year Estimates.
Second, the groups tend to settle in different places. Colombians are clustered in the South (49%), particularly in Florida
(33%), and the Northeast (33%), mostly in New York and New Jersey (López, 2015a, p. 2). Dominicans are concentrated in
the Northeast (79%), with 47% living in New York alone (López, 2015c, p. 3). In contrast, Salvadorans generally reside in the
West (45%), mostly in California, and the South, mostly in Texas (Cohn, Passel, & Gonzalez-Barrera, 2017, p. 17).
Finally, groups’ contact situations or entry conditions differ—a difference that you’ve learned is consequential. Salvadorans
are more likely to be political refugees who fled a brutal civil war and political repression, while Dominicans and Colombians
are more likely to be motivated by economics and the employment possibilities offered in America.
Dominicans
The Dominican Republic shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti. The island economy is still largely
agricultural, although the tourist industry has grown in recent years. Unemployment and poverty are major problems, and
Dominicans age 25 and over average about five years of education (World Bank, 2017). Dominican immigrants, similar to
those from Mexico, are motivated largely by economics, and they compete for jobs with Puerto Ricans, other immigrant
groups, and native-born workers with lower levels of education and job skills.
Although Dominicans are limited in their job options by the language barrier, they’re somewhat advantaged by their
willingness to work for lower wages. They’re concentrated in the service sector as day laborers (men) or domestics
(women). Dominican immigrants maintain strong ties with home and are a major source of income and support for the
families left behind.
In terms of acculturation and integration, Dominicans are roughly similar to Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans,
although some studies suggest that they’re possibly the most impoverished immigrant group (see Table 9.1 and Figures
7.15 and 7.17). A high percentage of Dominicans are undocumented, and many spend a great deal of money and take
considerable risks to get to America. The portrait of poverty and low levels of education and job skills would probably be
even more dramatic if these less-visible community members were included in the official, government-generated statistics
(which we used to create the book’s tables and figures).
Salvadorans
El Salvador, like the Dominican Republic, is a relatively poor nation, with a high percentage of the population relying on
subsistence agriculture for survival. Approximately 35% of the population lives below the poverty level due to major
problems with unemployment and underemployment. About 80% of the population is literate, and the population 25 years
of age and older averages about six years of school (Central Intelligence Agency, 2017; World Bank, 2017).
El Salvador, similar to many other sending nations, has a difficult time providing sufficient employment opportunities for its
population, and much of the pressure to migrate is economic. However, El Salvador also suffered through a brutal civil war
in the 1980s, and many of the Salvadorans in the U. S. today are political refugees. The U. S., under President Ronald
Reagan, refused to grant political refugee status to Salvadorans and returned many of them to El Salvador. This federal
policy resulted in high numbers of undocumented immigrants and stimulated a sanctuary movement, led by American
clergy, to help Salvadoran immigrants, both undocumented and legal, stay in the United States. As with Dominicans, if the
undocumented El Salvadoran immigrants were included in official government statistics, the picture of poverty would
become more extreme.
Colombians
Colombia is somewhat more developed than most Central and South American nations but has suffered from more than 50
years of internal turmoil, civil war, and government corruption. It’s a major center for the production and distribution of drugs
to the world generally and the U. S. in particular, and the drug industry and profits are complexly intertwined with domestic
strife.
Colombian Americans are closer to U. S. norms of education and income than are other Latino groups. For example,
33.4% have a college education, and the median household income is $58,847 (remember that median means half the
household incomes are above and half are below). Median personal earnings are generally below $25,000 a year (López,
2015a; see Table 9.1, and Figures 7.15, and 7.17.) Recent immigrants are a mixture of less-skilled laborers and well
educated professionals seeking to further their careers. Of course, almost all Colombian Americans are law-abiding, but
many must deal with the pervasive stereotype of Colombian drug smugglers or gangsters (not unlike the Mafia stereotype
about Italian Americans).
NON-HISPANIC IMMIGRANTS FROM THE CARIBBEAN
Immigrants from the Western Hemisphere bring many traditions to the U. S. other than Hispanic ones. Two of the largest
non-Latino groups come from Haiti and Jamaica in the Caribbean. Both nations are much less developed than the U. S.,
as suggested by immigrants’ educational and occupational characteristics. Table 9.2 shows a statistical profile of both
groups along with statistics for non-Hispanic whites for comparison.
Table 9.2 Selected Characteristics of Two Non-Hispanic Caribbean Groups and Non-Hispanic Whites, 2017
Group
Non
Hispanic
whites
Haitians
Size
Percenta
ge with
Less
Than a
High
School
Diploma
Percenta
ge with a
College
Degree or
More
Percent
ageFore
ign
Born
Percentag
e Who
Speak
English
Less Than
“Very
Well”
Median
House
holdInc
ome
Percenta
geof
Families
in
Poverty
35.8
4.1
1.6
$65,696
6.2
18.4
23.2
55.5
31.3
$50,935
13.5
13.0
28.3
57.7
1.4
$55,631
9.9
204,221,676
1,065,219
s 1,124,120
Source: U.S. Census Bureau (2018a). American Community Survey, 2017 1-year Estimates.
Two Case Studies
Haitians
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and most people rely on small-scale subsistence agriculture to
survive. Approximately 59% of the population lives below the poverty line, and the unemployment rate is about 40%.
Haitians average less than three years of formal education, most of which is private and relatively unaffordable. About 40%
of the population is illiterate (Central Intelligence Agency, 2017; World Bank, 2017).
Natural disasters and disease have exacerbated problems of poverty and political instability. In 2010, a massive 7.0
earthquake killed tens of thousands of people, possibly hundreds of thousands. (See the Puerto Rico section in Chapter 7
for why death rate discrepancies occur.) That year, Haiti also experienced a cholera outbreak—an illness that can kill within
days. As of early 2019, it’s infected 800,000 people and killed 9,000. The storm destroyed the homes of over 1.5 million
people, and in 2014, more than a quarter million still lived in tent camps. Camp conditions such as overcrowding, lack of
sanitation facilities, and malnourishment contributed to a near doubling of the tuberculosis rate. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew
decimated the already-weak infrastructure (e.g., roads, communication) and 90% of the crops. More than a million people
have been affected (Human Rights Watch, 2017; Koenig et al., 2015; Thorbecke, 2016; also see United Nations, n.d.).
Haitian migration was virtually nonexistent until the 1970s, when thousands began fleeing the brutal repression of the
Duvalier dictatorship, which lasted for two generations (from 1957– 1986). In stark contrast to the U.S. treatment of Cuban
immigrants around the same time (Chapter 7), the government began an intense campaign to keep Haitians out, first by
defining them as economic refugees ineligible for asylum. Additionally, it actively intercepted boats in open water; but those
who made it to land were incarcerated in large, newly established detention camps without parole, reversing a 1958
Supreme Court ruling that declared, “physical detention of aliens is now the exception, not the rule . . . which reflects the
humane qualities of an enlightened civilization.” The U.S. government returned thousands of people to Haiti, some to face
political persecution, prison, and even death (Loyd & Mountz, 2018; Minian, 2018; Regan, 2016, p. xviii).
Stepick and colleagues (2001) argue that during this time, “no other immigrant group suffered more U.S. government
prejudice and discrimination than Haitians” (p. 236) and that the harsh reception and disparate treatment reflected their
“triple minority” status. First, they were immigrants with low levels of human capital and education, which created concerns
about their ability to support themselves. (This also meant that they had relatively few resources with which to defend their
self-interests.) Second, the majority spoke a language that was uncommon outside of Haiti (Haitian Creole), and a good
number practiced a blend of voodoo and Christianity. Finally, they were black. As such, they were subject to centuries-old
traditions of rejection, racism, and prejudice that were such an integral part of American culture.
Haitian Americans today are still mostly first-generation, recent immigrants. Overall, they’re comparable to Hispanic
Americans in terms of measures of equality such as income and poverty (see Figures 7.15 and 7.17). Yet, research shows
that Haitians have continued to face the exclusion and discrimination based on their triple minority status. As a result, the
second generation (the immigrants’ children) have a relatively low level of academic achievement and a tendency to
identify with the African American community. This suggests that some second-generation members are unlikely to move
into the middle class and that their assimilation will be segmented (Stepick et al., 2001; Vanderkooy, 2011).
In 2017, the U.S. government rescinded Temporary Protected Status for nearly 60,000 Haitians who came to the U. S.
after the 2010 earthquake. They’re expected to leave by July 2019. This change will further impact the Haitian American
community (Jordan, 2017).
Jamaicans
The Jamaican economy is more developed than Haiti’s, and this is reflected in Jamaican immigrants’ higher levels of
education. On average, they possess significantly higher socioeconomic standing than Haitians (see Table 9.2). Jamaica’s
economy has been slow to develop and, similar to other economies throughout the less-industrialized world, it has faltered
in recent decades, and the island nation has been unable to provide full employment for its citizens. The immigrant stream
tends to be more skilled and educated, and as they leave to pursue opportunities, it creates a “brain drain” in their home
country (as it does with other groups, including Asian Indians; Feliciano, 2006). This loss of the more-educated Jamaicans
exacerbates Jamaica’s development and growth problems.
Because the British colonized Jamaica, its citizens speak English—an advantage in assimilation. Yet, they’re black and,
similar to Haitians, they face the prejudice and discrimination and racism faced by other non-white groups in America.
Poverty and institutionalized discrimination limit upward mobility for a segment of the group. Some, like other groups of color
in the U. S., face the possibility of segmented assimilation and permanent exclusion from the economic mainstream.
However, at least one study shows that many second-generation Jamaicans are moving into the mainstream economy and
filling jobs comparable to those of others with their level of education, at least in New York City, where many of them live
(Kasinitz, Mollenkopf, Waters, & Holdaway, 2008).
CONTEMPORARY IMMIGRATION FROM ASIA
Immigration from Asia has been considerable since the 1960s, averaging close to 300,000 people per year, or about 30%
to 40% of all immigrants (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2016). Similar to Hispanic immigrants, the sending
nations for Asians are considerably less economically developed than the U. S., and the primary motivation for most Asian
immigrants is economic. As we noted in Chapter 8, however, the Asian immigrant stream is “bipolar” and includes many
highly educated professionals along with the less skilled and less educated. Also, many Asian immigrants are refugees
from the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s; others are the spouses of U.S. military personnel who’ve
been stationed throughout the region.
Again, rather than attempting to cover all Asian immigrant groups, we’ll concentrate on four case studies: India, Korea, the
Philippines, and Vietnam. Together, these groups make up about half of all Asian immigrants (U.S. Department of
Homeland Security, 2016).
Four Case Studies
As you’ll see in Table 9.3, these four groups are small and include a high percentage of foreign-born members. Their
backgrounds, occupational profiles, levels of education, and incomes vary. In contrast to Hispanic immigrants, these
groups generally have higher percentages of members who are fluent in English and have higher levels of education,
making them relatively more prepared to compete for good jobs. We include non-Hispanic whites for comparison.
The four groups vary in their settlement patterns. Most are concentrated along the West Coast, but Asian Indians are
roughly equally distributed on the East and West Coasts, and Vietnamese have a sizable presence in Texas, in part related
to the fishing industry along the Gulf Coast.
Asian Indians
India, home to more than 1.3 billion people, is the second most populous nation in the world. India has many religions,
ethnic groups, and languages (including 22 officially recognized ones). Overall, education levels are low; on average,
people have less than five years of formal schooling (World Bank, 2017). About 71% of the population is literate (Central
Intelligence Agency, 2017). However, about 35.6 million people are enrolled in some form of higher education (“All India
Survey on Higher Education,” 2018, p. iv). This means millions of educated Indians are looking for careers commensurate
with their credentials. Because the Indian economy is relatively less developed, many college-educated Indians search for
career opportunities abroad, and not only in America. One important legacy of India’s long colonization by the British is that
English is the language of the educated. Thus, Indian immigrants to the U. S. tend to be not only well educated but English
speaking (see Table 9.3).
Table 9.3 Selected Characteristics of Four Asian American Groups and Non-Hispanic Whites, 2017
Group Size
Percentage with
Less
Percentage
Than a High
Percentage with a Foreign
College
Born
School
Diploma
De
gr
Non
Hispanic
whites
204,221,676
Asian
Indians
4,402,362
Koreans
Filipinos
Vietnamese
Percentage Who Median
Speak English
Household
Less
Income
ee
e
or
Than “Very
M
Well”
or
Percentage of
Families in
Poverty
35.8
4.1
1.6
$65,696
6.2
7.8
73.7
68.5
18.2
$111,857
4.4
1,887,914
7.0
54.7
56.8
32.4
$69,175
8.6
4,037,564
6.3
47.5
49.0
16.2
$88,231
4.5
25.2
31.2
60.1
45.1
$65,643
10.6
Source: U.S. Census Bureau (2018a). American Community Survey, 2017 1-year Estimates.
In 1923, the Supreme Court ruled that Asian Indians weren’t white; therefore, they couldn’t become citizens. Immigration
from India to the U. S. was low until the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, and strict quotas were in place until 1970.
The group’s size was small at that time but increased to 200,600 by 1980. The group more than quintupled in size between
1990 and 2017 (see Table 8.1), and Indians are now the second-largest Asian American group (Chinese Americans are the
largest group).
Indian immigrants tend to be a select, highly educated, and skilled group (see Table 9.3 and Figures 8.14 and 8.17). Indians
are overrepresented in many prestigious occupations, including those in engineering, medicine, and computer programming
and IT (Migration Policy Institute, 2014; U.S. Census Bureau, 2000b). Indian immigrants are part of a worldwide movement
of educated peoples from less-industrialized countries to more-industrialized countries in search of better career
opportunities, resources (e.g., technology), and compensation. One need not ponder the differences in career opportunities,
technology, and compensation between the two nations for long to get some insight into the reasons for this movement.
Other immigrants from India are more oriented to commerce and small business, and there’s a sizable Indian ethnic enclave
in many cities (Dingra, 2012; Kitano & Daniels, 1995; Sheth, 1995). In fiscal year 2016, they were 74% of immigrants who
came to America on HB-1 work visas (temporary visas for skilled and specialized workers); compared to U.S.–born
Americans, Indians are about twice as likely to be employed in business, science, and the arts (38% versus 73%; Zong &
Batlova, 2017a).
Koreans
South Korean immigration to the U. S. began early in the 20th century, when laborers were recruited to help fill the void in
the job market created by the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act (see Chapter 8). This group was extremely small until the 1950s
but grew after the Korean War. The group included refugees, “war brides” (women forced into sexual slavery as “comfort
women” who later married U.S. military personnel), and children fathered by American soldiers (who were often abandoned
and seen as highly unadoptable in Korea; National Association of Korean Americans, 2003; Yoon, 2017). As with other
groups, immigration didn’t become substantial until the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act.