Fact of the Week Clarification

During the past week, it was brought to ECAASU’s attention that two of ECAASU’s “Facts of the Week” needed clarification and may have been presented in a misleading way. Correspondingly, the ECAASU National Board would like to issue a statement of clarification for the weeks of June 20th to June 26th and July 4th to July 10th. Foremost, the ECAASU National Board would like to thank community members for checking and analyzing these facts. In addition, thank you to all of the students who were engaged in the discussions. The purpose of ECAASU’s “Fact of the Day,” which was once the “Fact of the Week,” is to educate and to raise awareness about the collective struggles, extensive history, and unique experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. More importantly, the purpose of ECAASU’s “Fact of the Day” is to facilitate a public forum for students, mentors, and community activists, addressing the most salient issues in our community that have often gone ignored in textbooks, and across college and university campuses. It is inspiring to see so many students who have such extensive knowledge of Asian American history willing to share this knowledge with others to cultivate the necessary tools for young Asian American activists and leaders to remain engaged in advancing the Asian American movement.

In order to continue these pertinent discussions, one of ECAASU’s main goals this year is to facilitate the creation and sustainability of Asian American Studies Programs on college and university campuses across the East Coast. To quote Judy Lei, one of the students who participated in the discussion, “Asian American Studies should be an elective at colleges and universities around the country... and not just to some.”

Finally, the following are the clarifications to the facts in question:

The fact for the week of June 20th was reflecting on the exclusion laws in the years between 1917 and 1965. On February 4th, 1917, The Asiatic Barred Zone Act, or the Immigration Act of 1917 as it is also known, was passed to restrict the immigration of “undesirables” from other countries (especially from the Indian subcontinent). The act stated that “the following classes of aliens shall be excluded from admission into the United States: … persons who are natives of islands not possessed by the United States adjacent to the Continent of Asia, situated south of the 20th parallel latitude north, west of the 160th meridian of longitude east from Greenwich, and north of the 10th parallel of latitude south, or who are natives of any country, province, or dependency situated on the Continent of Asia west of the 110thmeridian of longitude east from Greenwich and south of the 50th parallel of latitude north…” The Act had placed emphasis on barring Asian Indian immigrants due to the fact that the group increasingly became politicized by the turn of the century because they were seen as direct representations of the powerless immigrants overseas and the subordination of British subjects. Although most Asians were barred as a group in the hopes of tightening restrictions on those entering the country, there were certain immigrants exempt from exclusion, such as students, merchants, diplomats, teachers, and paper sons/daughters.

The fact for the week of July 4th sparked discussion about which Asian ethnic group comprised the first Asian immigrants to the United States. An exhibit in the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle states that the first Asian immigrants who migrated to the North America were Filipinos, working as “sailors and navigators during the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade from 1565 to 1815, ma[king] the first recorded landing by Asians in North America in Morro Bay, California.” Other records claim that a group of Filipinos settled in Louisiana in 1763 to escape mistreatment on board the Spanish ships. However, when taking into consideration large scale migrations, the first large-scale immigration happened around 1848. Most of these immigrants were Chinese workers who came to the U.S. in the hopes of finding gold in California (one of the pull factors of the time). In addition, many Chinese also became contract laborers in Hawaii to work on sugar plantations in the mid-1800s (around 1830s) before the Gold Rush. During the 19th and 20th centuries in Hawaii, a flux of Asian immigrants of different backgrounds (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino) came to work on the sugar plantations.

Sources: http://www.america.gov/st/educ-english/2008/April/20080423214226eaifas0.9637982.html http://www.usnews.com/usnews/documents/docpages/document_page47.htm http://library.uwb.edu/guides/USimmigration/1917_immigration_act.html http://web.me.com/joelarkin/MontereyDemographicHistory/1917_Im_Act.html http://library.uwb.edu/guides/USimmigration/1965_immigration_and_nationality_act.html http://www.asian-nation.org/1965-immigration-act.shtml -- http://www.asian-nation.org/first.shtml http://www.cetel.org/timeline.html www.stanford.edu/dept/lc/efs/ALC/ppt/alc_AAid_8.15.07.ppt http://www.zakkeith.com/articles,blogs,forums/anti-Chinese-persecution-in-the-USA-history-timeline.htm