The Asian Pacific American (APA) population is comprised of a dynamic and complex mix of ethnicities and cultures. Within this broad range of cultural variation, there are differences in socioeconomic status, acculturation patterns, ethnic traditions and geographical region which shape the unique experiences of APAs. As American society becomes more diverse both in racial and economic terms, it is in the best interests of APAs to increase awareness about APA history, educate future APA generations about racial biases and injustices in American history, and develop alliances with other minorities to create a unified stance against racial prejudice and exclusion. We must influence public policy and fight against biased policies that negatively and unfairly affect the APA population.

Contemporary society has coined the term ‘racial profiling’ to indicate a ‘pattern’ of unfair treatment to a minority group because of cultural stereotypes and/or perceived characteristics associated with a particular ethnicity. Although the term ‘racial profiling’ is a rather recent and contestable term mainly associated with law enforcement and Civil Rights, one fact is clear, APAs have experienced racial profiling ever since they arrived on American soil. This ‘pattern’ of increased profiling has lead to the exclusion and banishment of APAs from positions of power and influence (i.e. managerial, policy influencing positions, and leadership positions). As a result, our decreased visibility and influence in American public policy has come at a price. We are still seen as ‘perpetual’ foreigners’ even though we have a ‘hidden history’ that spans 150 years on American soil. Our invisibility in history and public policy has lead up down a path of exclusion from our minority counterparts and American society as a whole.

We should be seen as relevant additions to society, not inconvenient political necessities in public policy. The continued cultural hegemony that excludes APAs will not only adversely affect our present standing in society, but future generations of APAs who will bear the bitter fruit of perpetual invisibility in American society.

The following timeline of APA experiences and immigration and law cases will support the fact that APAs have been historically ‘profiled’ and ultimately excluded from American history and society because of our perceived disloyalties, untrustworthiness, and ‘perpetual’ foreigner status. Although this historical overview may seem disconnected and unrelated, these collective events have reinforced the notion that APAs are not an important part of American history and society.

1850 - California imposes a Foreign Miners Tax, which forces Chinese to pay a tax not required from US citizens.

1854 - People vs. Hall constitutes law forbidding Chinese from testifying in court against whites.

1858 - California passes a law to bar entry of Chinese and “Mongolians.”

1859 - Exclusion of Chinese from public schools in San Francisco.

1862 - California imposes a “police tax” of $2.50 a month on every Chinese.

1870 - People born in Africa and people of African descent become eligible for citizenship through the “Naturalization Act.” Chinese are not eligible for citizenship and the act also forbids the entry of wives of laborers. Nationwide recession causes West Coast labor problems. “Cheap Chinese labor.” becomes the scapegoat. Mobs destroy Chinese communities in many areas of California and other states.

1871 - Anti-Chinese riots break out in LA and other cities. In LA, a mob of whites shoots and hangs 20 Chinese.

1875 - Following CA’s 1872 law, the US legislature follows suit with the Page Law which bars entry of Chinese, Japanese, and “Mongolian” prostitutes, felons, and contract laborers.

1882 - Chinese Exclusion Act suspends immigration of Chinese laborers for 10 years. It excludes Chinese from citizenship by naturalization and it halts Chinese immigration for 60 years.

1885 - Anti-Chinese violent in Rock Springs, Wyoming results in the massacre of 22 to 50 Chinese and the expulsion of an additional 500. Outbreaks against Chinese begin in Washington state. San Francisco builds new segregated “Oriental School.”

1888 - Scott Act renders 20,000 Chinese reentry certificates null and void.

1889 - Chae Chan Ping v. US upholds constitutionality of Chinese exclusion laws despite Sino-American Treaty of 1968.

1892 - Geary Act prohibits Chinese immigration for another 10 years and denies bail for writ of habeas corpus.

1894 - In re Saito: Circuit court in MA declares that Japanese are ineligible for naturalization because they are “Mongolians” neither white not black.

1901 - In Sung v US, the Supreme Court rules that unreasonable search and seizure, trial without jury, and cruel and unusual punishment are acceptable in deportation proceedings.

1902 - Chinese exclusion extended for another 10 years.

1904 - Chinese exclusion made indefinite and applicable to US insular possessions. Executive order 38 extends Chinese Exclusion Act to Chinese from the Philippines.

1905 - San Francisco Board of Education established policy of segregating Asians.

1907 - President Roosevelt enters into Gentlemen’s Agreement with Japan whereby Japan stops issuing passports to laborers desiring to emigrate to the US; opens up jobs in HI for Filipinos; and bans Korean laborers from immigrating to the US.

1907 - Bellingham, WA riots drive South Asians out of town. Asian Indians are driven out of Live Oak, CA.

1910 - The US Supreme Court extends the 1870 Naturalization Act to other Asians, making them ineligible for citizenship.

1913 - California passes alien land law prohibiting “aliens ineligible for citizenship from buying land or leasing it for longer than three years.”

1917 - Asiatic Barred Zone suspends Asian immigration.

1922 - Takao Ozawa v. US declares Japanese ineligible for naturalized citizenship; the US Supreme Cout upholds the Naturalization Law which means that aliens (directed mainly toward Asians) are ineligible for citizenship.

Ho v. White: Supreme Court rules that Congress has the right to deport “dangerous” “aliens”; the “alien” must prove his citizenship to remain in the US; and he can be held for trial.”

1923 - US v. Bhagat Singh Thind declares Asian Indians ineligible for naturalized citizenship.

1924 - National Origins Quote Act (Immigration Act) bars any “alien ineligible for citizenship” from immigrating to the US This act completely ends Asian immigration except for Filipinos who are subjects of the US Immigration Acts halts flow of Japanese laborers to Hawaii and mainland.

1941 - Japanese community leaders along Pacific Coast states and Hawaii are rounded up and interned in Justice Department camps. FDR signs Executive Order 9066, putting 110,000 Japanese (primarily US citizens) in 10 concentration camps.

1942 - Hearst newspapers vilify Japanese Americans and calls for mass exclusion policy.
California fires all Japanese Americans in the state’s civil service.

1943 - Magnuson Act finally repeals the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Quota of 105 per year set for Chinese immigration. Chinese granted the right to naturalization.

Hirabayashi v. US finds curfew law imposed upon persons of Japanese ancestry constitutional. Military Order declassifies Koreans in the US as enemy aliens.

1952 - McCarran-Walter Immigration and Nationality Act - Congress denied admission to “subversive and undesirable aliens” and made it simpler to deport “those already in the country.” For the first time, Chinese women were allowed to immigrate under the same conditions as the men. Japanese are granted the right of naturalization and a small immigration quota.”

1960 - In Kimm v. Rosenberg, the high court rules that a Korean national should be deported for refusing to answer whether he is communist or not.

1982 - Chinese American Vincent Chin is mistaken for a Japanese national and is clubbed to death wit a baseball bat by two Anglo men (Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz)

1984 - Filipino W.W.II are denied US citizenship. Over 1000 face deportation. Thong Hy Huynh is stabbed to death by two other white high school students in Davis, CA.

1994 - CA voters pass Proposition 187, which seeks to cut off health, education, and other social service benefits to undocumented immigrants. The Courts later deem it unconstitutional.

1996 - Proposition 209, The California Civil Rights Initiative, passes the November ballot. The proposition seeks to end gender and racial preferences thus ending affirmative action.

Beginning Library Research on Asian American Studies

Asian & Pacific Island American History & Literature for K-12 Teachers

Asian American History Timeline

The Formation of an Asian American Identity: Prospects for the Future