Skip Global Navigation to Main Content
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation

U.S. Society

Asian Americans

The Statue of Liberty began lighting the way for new arrivals at a time when many native-born Americans began to worry that the country was admitting too many immigrants. Some citizens feared that their culture was being threatened or that they would lose jobs to newcomers willing to accept low wages. In 1924 Congress passed the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act. For the first time, the United States set limits on how many people from each country it would admit. The number of people allowed to emigrate from a given country each year was based on the number of people from that country already living in the United States. As a result, immigration patterns over the next 40 years reflected the existing immigrant population, mostly Europeans and North Americans.

Prior to 1924, U.S. laws specifically excluded Asian immigrants. People in the American West feared that the Chinese and other Asians would take away jobs, and racial prejudice against people with Asian features was widespread. The law that kept out Chinese immigrants was repealed in 1943, and legislation passed in 1952 allows people of all races to become U.S. citizens.
Today Asian Americans are one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the country. About 10 million people of Asian descent live in the United States. Although most of them have arrived here recently, they are among the most successful of all immigrant groups. They have a higher income than many other ethnic groups, and large numbers of their children study at the best American universities.

Abridged from U.S. State Department publications and other U.S. government materials.

Chinese Largest Asian Group in the United States
Chinese comprised more than 20 percent of the 11.9 million people who identified themselves as Asians in Census 2000, according to a report released March 4, 2002 by the U.S. Commerce Department's Census Bureau. That translates into 2.7 million reporting as Chinese -- the largest Asian group in the United States. "The Asian Population: 2000," one in a series of Census 2000 briefs, also showed that about 50 percent of the Asians resided in three states: California, New York and Hawaii. Two of these states had Asian populations exceeding 1 million: California (4.2 million) and New York (1.2 million). Census Bureau Press Release

· Ancestors in the Americas: Chinese Americans (PBS)
· Asian American History (
· Asian American History Timeline (Center for Educational Telecommunications)
· Asian Nation: The Landscape of Asian America (C.N. Le)
· Becoming American: The Chinese Experience (PBS)
· A History of Chinese Americans in California (National Park Service Online Books)
· Searching for Asian America (PBS)

Original Documents
· Asian Pacific Americans: Laws and Policies (University of Dayton, Ohio. Law School)
· Chinese Exclusion Act (1882)
· Japanese Relocation Order (1942)

· Asian American Census. (NPR) Asians have become more visible in the mainstream American culture. Commentator and journalist William Wong shares his perspective on the "Asianization" of America.
· Asian American Heritage Month: Multimedia Page (U.S. Census Bureau)

Statistics & Maps
· Asian and Pacific Islander Population (U.S.Census Bureau)
· The Asian Population 2002 (U.S. Census Brief)
· The Asian Population, 2002 Current Population Survey. Detailed Tables (Census Bureau)
· Facts for Features: Asian American Heritage Month, May 2005 (Census Bureau)
· Facts on Asian/Pacific Islander Population (Minority Links for the Media. Census Bureau)
· Foreign Born from China. Map. (Migration Policy Institute) [pdf]
· The Foreign Born from Vietnam in the United States (Migration Policy Institute)
· Mapping Census 2000: Asian Americans (U.S. Census Bureau)
A Profile of the Nation's Foreign-Born Population From Asia (Census Bureau, 2000 Update) 

 Exhibits-Digital Images
A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans and the Constitution (National Museum of American History)
· Angel Island Immigration Station (Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation)
· Chinese American Museum, Los Angeles
· Japanese American National Museum. Celebrating the American Experience.
· The Promise of Gold Mountain: Tucson's Chinese Heritage (University of Arizona)

For High School Students
· Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (

Teacher Resources
· Asian American Heritage Month (EDSitement)
· Asian-Pacific Heritage Lesson Plans. Teaching with Historic Places (National Park Service)
· Celebrate Asian-Pacific Heritage Month (National Park Service)
· Hmong Among Us. Lesson Plan (NYT Learning Network)
· Teaching About Japanese-American Internment (Indiana University)
· Teaching Asian American Literature by Amy Ling (Heath Anthology Newsletter)
· Teaching With Documents: the Chinese Boycott Case (National Archives)
· Teaching With Documents: Japanese Relocation During World War II (National Archives)

Link Lists
· Asian American Internet Links (Asian-Nation)
· Asian American Internet Sites (CLNet, University of California)
· Asian American Studies Gateway ( Academic Info )
· Asian Americans (Contra Costa College Library, California)
· Asian Studies (WWW Virtual Library)
· Internet Resources on Asian Americans (Asian Studies Dept., University of Redlands)
· Recommended Asian American web sites (Iowa State University)
· Yahoo! News. Full Coverage: Asian Americans

Download FREE Adobe Acrobat© Reader to view PDF files on this site. Adobe PDF Conversion by Simple Form


Any reference obtained from this server to a specific commercial product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the United States Government of the product, process, or service, or its producer or provider. The views and opinions expressed in any referenced document do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government.