Asian Studies

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Asian Studies

Japanese American Experience

Internment of close to 120,000 people by the United States government as an act of self-defence in 1942 resulted from Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. The wave of Japanese immigration to the U.S began in 1868 when economy of the country opened to the world market. A number of laws were enacted during the 19th century in an attempt to reduce the number of immigrants. This culminated with the 1924 enactment of the Immigration Act which effectively banned immigrations from undesirable and unwanted Asian countries including Japan and China. The Japanese were banned from owning property, participating in the electoral process and running for any political office. However, as exhibited by the impact that these people had on the development of agriculture in California, the Japanese built economically and socially vibrant communities within the Western United States where majority had settled (Zinn & Arnove, 2004).

Although, evacuation and temporary confinement lasted for only three years, it had a lasting psychological effect on the Japanese. The internment was a serious breach of the American constitutional law in addition to breaching human rights regulations. Notable effects include family separation, deaths, depression and anger. On issuing special Executive Order number 9066, President F. D. Roosevelt gave leeway to the U.S. military to torture and subject the Japanese nationals to racism. This resulted in traumatic effects on the detainees who had pledged their loyalty to the United States including psychological anguish, health consequences, cardiovascular diseases and post-traumatic stress.

The Chinese American Experience

Emergence of the Chinese as a model minority in the U.S has made it hard to believe that in time past they were subjected to persecution and violence. In the 19th century, the Chinese immigrants considered inassimilable and unacceptabl. They were, therefore, excluded from the  following the enactment of the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882). However, the number of Chinese immigrants pre-war II and post 1965 continues increasing at an alarming rate due to specific reasons such as unemployment and the search for both skilled and unskilled labor, thus, calling for changes to the U.S. immigration policy.

Chinese immigrants population in the U.S. declined between 1890s and 1920s owing to restrictive and discriminatory US immigration policy of the annual quota of 105 immigrants. There was evident departure from the then existing policy of unrestricted immigration and identification of a specific group of people by name who were named unwanted in the United States. These hostile laws were also evident when the Chinese men were forced to lead bachelor lives, as they supported their wives and families back home. Such enforced separations made it hard for the Chinese to establish and maintain strong family relations (Saxton, 1971).

Current US immigration policy is based on the quota system that was established by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 also known as the Hart-Celler Act which came into effect on June 30, 1968. This Act abolished the American immigration policy that was in place since the 1920s known as the quota system replacing it with a preference-based policy which focused on the skills of the immigrants and their relationships with U.S citizens. This law amended the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which created skills-based immigration categories. It did not however, remove the restrictions that were imposed on national origin (Yu, 1992). This had an effect on the number of Chinese immigrants , especially since the Act gave an exception to the Chinese Exclusion Act. As underpinned by the estimates of the Census Bureau, immigrants population figures were undercut by 15%.

As of 2000, the number of Chinese Americans living in the U.S. was estimated at 2.3 million stemming from the immigration pollicy focus on family reunification. A number of these immigrants now have stable families, are quality professionals, owners of small businesses and have relatively higher household incomes and educational levels than the white Americans. This change in the Chinese Americans experience can, therefore, be attributed to repeal of the iniquitous quota system of national origins which existed prior to 1965.

Modes of Incorporating Chinese Immigrants into the U.S. Labor Market

Success of Chinese immigrants into the U.S. labor market depends greatly on their self-sufficiency and ability of the government to create economic mobility that comes from establishment of good environment for co-ethnics to thrive. Their successful integration into the labor market provides an alternative labor market which is ethnic specific. It is also of value to the U.S labor market since they do not demand cultural and social skills of the United States. The neo-classical model is a classical integration model which analyzes individual characteristics of an ethnic enclave, such as the Chinese immigrants, on the basis of their education, work experience and personal skills.

Integration of the Chinese into the U.S. labor market will take several years or even decades. The successful integration will be affected by the first years upon arrival of the immigrants in the U.S. given that it will take time for them to acquaint themselves with the country labor market. It is also dependent on the immigrants joining occupations that are consistent with their work skills and personal skills, and in those sectors of the economy which provide an opportunity for upward job mobility. It will, however, be dependent on their ability to overcome limitations such as limited language proficiency, problems in evaluating foreign qualifications and work experience, lack of contact with the potential employers, lack of knowledge on the local labor market institutions practices and regulations and significant cultural differences.

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