Like the state of Oregon to its south, Washington appealed to early pioneers from the East. Unlike Oregon, it lacked racially exclusionary land laws. Consequently, it also attracted Asian immigrants, and Filipinos became one of the state’s largest immigrant groups. By the turn of the twenty-first century, Mexican had become the state’s fastest-growing immigrant group, thanks in part to Washington’s agriculture industry, which poses a draw for undocumented immigrants.
Although similar to Oregon geographically and economically, Washington has drawn many more immigrants not of European stock. During the first several decades of statehood, hundreds of Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino immigrants came to Washington for work. The first
After the United States took the Philippines from Spain in the 1898 Spanish-American War, Congress passed the
In 1906, the city of Seattle hired forty Filipino workers to lay a cable in the Pacific; several decided to become permanent residents of Seattle. Federal immigration laws that excluded Asian workers from the United States did not apply to the Philippines, which was regarded as an American colony. Consequently, the number of Filipinos in Washington increased rapidly. They were drawn by the promise of work and economic security and quickly took the places of Chinese and Japanese laborers on railroads, in canneries, and on farms.
During the early decades of the twentieth century, Washington’s Filipino population continued to grow through ongoing immigration and natural increase. However, in 1934, the federal
Through World War II and afterward, Washington’s Filipino community again grew larger, particularly after 1965, when a new federal immigration law removed national-origins quotas. During the war, Washington’s ethnic Japanese residents, along with those of other West Coast states, were rounded up and interned. After the war, the state’s ethnic Japanese population increased. By 1950, 6.8 percent of the state’s total population were of Japanese ancestry.
By 2003, Washington was home to 631,500 foreign-born residents, who constituted 10.3 percent of the state’s entire population. An estimated 100,000 of these people were illegal immigrants. By this time, the single-largest immigrant group was
Daniels, Roger. Asian America: Chinese and Japanese in the United States Since 1850. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1988. Gruenewald, Mary Matsuda. Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American Internment Camps. Troutdale, Oreg.: NewSage Press, 2005. Lambert, Dale A. Washington: A State of Contrasts. Edited by Dustin W. Clark and Kathleen A. Lambert. 2d ed. East Wenatchee, Wash.: Directed Media, 2007. Examines the complex past and present history of Washington and its unique geographic regions. Ritter, Harry. Washington’s History: The People, Land, and Events of the Far Northwest. Portland, Oreg.: WestWinds Press, 2003. Explores the events and people who helped in the development of Washington State.
Asakura v. City of Seattle
Farm and migrant workers
Filipino Repatriation Act of 1935
Japanese American internment