Thanks for pointing out that not all Asian immigrant groups are the same. The whole picture is more complex. Even within Asian subgroups there is further socioeconomic diversity. For “Chinese” immigrants, as you suggest, those who came before the 1965 Immigration Act arrived to work as laborers and miners. They were mainly from the southern areas of China like Guangdong. In the 1970s and 80s, many of the “Chinese” that immigrated to America were from Taiwan. Unlike the earlier group, the Taiwanese had a different socioeconomic status.

There is a correlation between socioeconomic and sociopolitical status of the immigrants. The Chinese that arrived earlier were part of the working class. They were more likely to associate themselves with the economically-disadvantaged blacks. The latter immigrant group moved from away from that racial struggle. They came to America as educated professionals. Their politics has often been related to maintaining the model minority status, giving rise to the idea that they themselves are “honorary whites.” This politics is not just within Chinese or Asian immigrant groups. Those that do come to America as educated professionals often take on a more conservative politics on racial equality. For example, they often see affirmative action as not a worthy goal to pursue because it limits their socioeconomic progress. They came to America to make money.

Regarding the 1965 Immigration Act, one scholar wrote that the policy was intended to have more European-descent immigrants in America. The reasoning was that the policy gave priority to family reunification and many European groups were already living in U.S. But instead of that happening more Asian and Africans arrived because Europeans by that time had rebuilt their economies.

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PhD candidate of politics and philosophy at ECNU.Shanghai | Of Rivers and Mountains @

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