Asian American Affairs Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Employed in the West as cheap labor for railroad construction, mining, agricultural work, and service industries, Chinese immigrants and, later, Japanese immigrants were described by European Americans as a “yellow peril” that threatened to overrun the region and destroy wages in the labor sector. Thus, even while they were exploited for their labor, immigrants from East Asia (or “Orientals,” as they were called) were discriminated against on many fronts. They were excluded from unions, limited in the types of jobs they could work, and encouraged to live in urban ghettos in San Francisco and elsewhere. Ultimately, new Chinese immigrants were excluded altogether from the United States by an act of Congress in 1882, a ban that was not formally lifted until 1943.

Employed in the West as cheap labor for railroad construction, mining, agricultural work, and service industries, Chinese immigrants and, later, Japanese immigrants were described by European Americans as a “yellow peril” that threatened to overrun the region and destroy wages in the labor sector. Thus, even while they were exploited for their labor, immigrants from East Asia (or “Orientals,” as they were called) were discriminated against on many fronts. They were excluded from unions, limited in the types of jobs they could work, and encouraged to live in urban ghettos in San Francisco and elsewhere. Ultimately, new Chinese immigrants were excluded altogether from the United States by an act of Congress in 1882, a ban that was not formally lifted until 1943.

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