Immigrants from the Southeast Asian nation of Malaysia began entering the United States in significant numbers after Malaysia (called Malaya until 1963) became independent in 1957. Malaysian immigration to the United States has never been large, but Malaysian immigrants have established significant communities in a number of western American cities. Malaysian immigration has tended to rise and fall with economic fluctuations in Southeast Asia.
When the British-ruled Federation of Malaya became independent in 1957, it was beset with political instability because its much larger neighbor Indonesia initially objected to creation as an independent state. Internal strife, combined with the outbreak of armed hostilities between the new government and various groups of Chinese communist guerrillas, prompted many Malayan citizens to emigrate to the United States.
American business interests in Malaysia go back to the era of British rule. Numerous large American corporations have large investments in Malaysia; these include General Electric, Chevron, and Coca-Cola. During the late twentieth century, the United States became Malaysia’s primary trading partner, and the two countries have generally had friendly relations.
Since the 1960’s, Malaysian immigration to the United States has generally fluctuated with economic ups and downs in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. In fact, economic forces
During the last decade of the twentieth century, the number of Malaysians who immigrated to the United States was three times greater than it had been during the previous decade. The global recession of the early twenty-first century prompted even greater levels of immigration as unemployment and inflation rates in Malaysia rose. By 2008, approximately 50,000 Malaysians were living in the United States. Evidence of the growing numbers of Malaysians in the United States could be seen in the development of sizable Malaysian enclaves such cities as
Gould, James W. The United States and Malaysia. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1969. Lim, Lin Lean. Impact of Immigration on Labor Markets in Peninsular Malaysia. Tokyo: Nihon University Population Research Institute, 1986. Yeoh, Michael, ed. Twenty-first Century Malaysia: Challenges and Strategies in Attaining Vision, 2020. London: ASEAN Academic Press, 2002.
History of immigration after 1891
Lim, Shirley Geok-lin