Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Korean Americans

Until recently, Korean Americans were largely invisible in the U.S. However, like many Asian groups they had distinct immigration waves, suffered from race-based exclusionary laws, and endured a pivotal event that caused them to reexamine their place in the American landscape.

Immigration Waves
Korean Americans had three distinct waves beginning with 1903-1924. From 1903-1905, some 7,000 Koreans migrated to Hawaii as labor for the sugar plantations. Approximately 1,000 of these came to the continental US In 1905, Korea became a protectorate of and was later annexed by Japan in 1910. Japan then severely restricted further emigration to the US to stop the exodus of skilled labor and to stem the Korean independence movement. In 1924, the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act limited Koreans entering the US to 100 per year.

The period between the end of the Korean War in 1953 through 1965 marked the second immigration wave. It was mainly facilitated by an earlier law, the War Brides Act of 1945, which allowed spouses and adopted children of US military personnel to enter the US Today,Today, it is believed that one-fourth of all Korean-Americans have family members that arrived as either war brides or adopted children.
The third immigration wave began with the Immigration Act of 1965, which removed "national origins" as the basis for American immigration policy. Until then, Koreans were a small minority, with a population of around 10,000.

Exclusionary Laws
Korean Americans experienced discriminatory laws similar to those faced by other Asian groups. For example, in the early 20th century, laws prohibited Koreans from attending school with whites in San Francisco; the 1901 California Anti Miscegenation Law disallowed intermarriage with whites; and the California a 913 Alien Land Law prohibited Koreans ineligible for citizenship to own land. Yet another exclusionary law was the 1924 Oriental Exclusion, which barred the immigration of picture brides.

Population Estimates
Today, Korean Americans rank as the fourth largest Asian group in the US with a population of over one million, of which 150,000 are Korean adoptees.

No comments: