About 5 million Americans are of Asian heritage, the majority being Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino. Other Asian Americans include people from Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan, and India.
Most Japanese and Chinese workers were brought into the United States by their employers beginning in the late 1800s. Japanese immigrants tended to settle in Pacific states, especially California. In one of America's darker moments, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II, all Japanese‐American citizens were forced to report to “relocation centers,” which were nothing more than concentration camps. After the war, these Japanese Americans integrated into larger American society rather than returning to segregated neighborhoods. Over the years, this minority group has rivaled the education and income levels of whites.
Chinese immigrants also settled in California and worked in such industries as railroad construction and mining. Working‐ and lower‐ class whites viewed these immigrants as a potential threat to their jobs, and so began an intense campaign of prejudice and discrimination against these people. The Chinese responded by forming distinct cultural neighborhoods, or “Chinatowns,” where they had a fighting chance to protect themselves from white aggression.
The Immigration Act of 1965 brought about increased immigration of Asians into the United States. Immigrant Chinese Americans now tend to avoid the “Chinatowns” of the native‐born Chinese Americans. Many of these foreign‐born Chinese work in menial occupations, but ever‐growing numbers are working in professional positions. Today, Chinese Americans continue to integrate into mainstream society, where they often work, live, and socialize alongside whites and other groups.