During the late twentieth century, Filipinos became one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations in the United States. By the early twenty-first century, they constituted the third-largest Asian immigrant group in the United States, after Asian Indians and Chinese, and could be found living throughout the North American continent.
Although most immigration from the Philippines to the United States occurred during the twentieth century, the earliest identifiable Filipino immigrants arrived in America during the 1830’s. At that time, hunters and trappers of Filipino origin settled in the region of
At the end of the nineteenth century, the Philippines came under the political dominance of the United States, a development that would eventually contribute to a large Filipino American population. When the United States fought Spain in the
During the early twentieth century, American industry grew rapidly and
The wave of Filipino immigrant labor to the United States that began in the first decade of the twentieth century became a trickle in 1934. During that year, the U.S. Congress passed the
Filipino farmworkers in California during the 1930’s.
After World War II, the United States recognized the full independence of the
In 1948, the U.S. Congress passed the
The 1960 U.S. Census counted 105,000 people living in the United States who had been born in the Philippines. At that moment, Filipinos constituted the second-largest immigrant group in the United States, only slightly behind immigrants born in Japan. As American restrictions on immigration from Asia were relaxed after 1965, the historical ties between the Philippines and the United States set the stage for a new wave of Filipino migration.
Thanks to the historical links between the United States and the Philippines, Filipinos were in a particularly good position to take advantage of the change in American immigration law. Because the Philippines remained a relatively low-income country–even though it had many well-educated and highly skilled people–and the United States was one of the world’s most prosperous nations, Filipino interest in emigrating to the United States was great. Moreover, many potential immigrants already had skills that were in demand in the United States and some familiarity with the English language and American culture.
Many post-1965 immigrants from the Philippines were highly skilled professionals. Before 1960, fewer than 2 percent of the people of Filipino ancestry residing in the United States had professional occupations, compared to 6 percent of all Americans. By contrast, two decades later, about one-quarter of all Filipinos in the United States were professionals. By the twenty-first century, this figure had risen to nearly one-third.
The United States had a particularly strong demand for
Nurses, who had already begun moving from the Philippines to the United States after passage of the 1948
During the 1960’s,
As the Filipino American population increased, a growing number of residents of the United States had immediate relatives in the Philippines. Because the 1965 change in immigration law had made family reunification the category that allowed the most immigrants, this meant that each new immigrant opened the way for others. The result was an exponential growth in the Filipino American population throughout the last decades of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century. In 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 2.5 million people of Filipino descent were living in the United States, ranking Filipino Americans only slightly behind Asian Indian Americans and a little further behind Chinese Americans.
In 2007, more than 72,500 people from the Philippines were admitted to legal permanent residence in the United States, and nearly 39,000 people born in the Philippines became naturalized U.S. citizens. By this time, Filipino Americans were living in communities across the United States, but the single largest concentration could be found in
Bankston, Carl L. “Filipino Americans.” In Asian Americans: Contemporary Trends and Issues. Edited by Pyong Gap Min. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Pine Forge Press, 2006. Sociological survey of modern Filipino American communities throughout the United States. Bulosan, Carlos. American Is in the Heart: A Personal History. 1946. Reprint. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1974. Memoir of perhaps the best-known Filipino American writer, who came to the United States as an immigrant field-worker during the 1930’s. _______. On Becoming Filipino: Selected Writings of Carlos Bulosan. Edited by Epifanio San Juan, Jr. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996. Additional writings by Bulosan documenting the Filipino American immigrant experience. Espiritu, Yen Le. Homebound: Filipino American Lives Across Cultures, Communities, and Cultures. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. Study of how Filipino immigrants have adapted to American culture and society built around interviews with more than one hundred Filipino Americans. Karnow, Stanley. In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines. New York: Random House, 1989. History of the American conquest and occupation of the Philippines and efforts to impose American culture and institutions on the island nation. Okamura, Jonathan Y. Imagining the Filipino American Diaspora: Transnational Relations, Identities, and Communities. New York: Garland, 1998. Exploration of Filipino immigration that examines the subject in the context of Filipino emigration to more than 130 countries around the world.
Filipino American press
Filipino Repatriation Act of 1935
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
Luce-Celler Bill of 1946