This federal law provided free transportation for Filipino residents of the continental United States who wished to return home but could not afford to do so. The act was backed by both humanitarians concerned about the condition of Filipinos, many of whom were unemployed or destitute during the Great Depression, and anti-Asian exclusionists who wanted Filipinos out of the United States.
As a territory of the United States from the time of the 1898
The first Filipino immigrants to arrive in America, called
Some of the early immigrant Filipinos, called
By 1930, men made up 94 percent of the Filipino immigrant workforce, who hoped to save enough money to return home and buy homes and land. As the
The Filipino Repatriation Act of 1935 followed the
In a bow to the nativist lobby, the Tydings-McDuffie Act also reclassified all Filipinos living in the United States as aliens under immigration law. Filipinos thus no longer were allowed to freely immigrate into the United States. As aliens, Filipinos also were barred from owning land or businesses in the United States. In 1943, however, they were allowed to lease land, much of which had been owned by Japanese Americans before they were sent to internment camps in 1942. The act also imposed a fifty-person-per-year limit on Filipino immigration to the United States. The quota was unrealistically low, and immigration continued at levels much higher than the legal quota.
The Filipino Repatriation Act provided free one-way transportation only for single adults. Such grants were supplemented in some instances by private fund-raising (such as that of the California Emergency Relief Association) that paid passage for Filipino children who had been born in the United States so that they could return with their parents. Both the Tydings-McDuffie and the Filipino Repatriation acts halted reunification of families under U.S. immigration law, forcing many to remain separate for a number of years.
The Filipino Repatriation Act was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1940, after 2,190 Filipinos had been returned to the Philippines. Filipino immigration to the United States continued, with a resurgence in the late 1960’s. The large number of Filipino workers outside the country has even helped to spawn an acronym, OFWs (overseas Filipino workers), and a political movement, Gawad Kalinga, which has provided a sense of community and basic services to millions of expatriate Filipinos worldwide. Many Filipino immigrants have worked with the U.S. military in war zones, from World War II to the Iraq War of 2003, earning broad-based support for their continued immigration to the United States.
Lawsin, Emily Porcincula. “Pensionados, Paisanos, and Pinoys: An Analysis of the Filipino Student Bulletin, 1922-1939.” Filipino American National Historical Society Journal 4 (1996). History of early Filipino university-student communities in the United States. Martinez, Eric V. “The Anti-Filipino Watsonville Race Riots: 1930.” Filipino American National Historical Journal 4 (1996). Labor-organizing tensions and cultural differences led to riots that provoked some of the nativist sentiment that was reflected in the Filipino Repatriation Act of 1935. “Philippine Flop.” Time, October 3, 1938. Reporting on the Filipino Repatriation Act of 1935 indicating that 1,900 Filipinos had returned to the Philippines in three years. Stern, Jennifer. The Filipino Americans. New York: Chelsea House, 1989. Wide-ranging history of Filipinos in the United States, including provisions affecting immigration.
History of immigration after 1891
Japanese American internment
Luce-Celler Bill of 1946