How were immigrants from Europe and Asia treated differently? 

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Immigration presents dilemmas for all immigrant groups. Learning a new language in a new land, surrounded by a new culture, is a very daunting challenge for even the most adjusted of people. Having said that, it was clear that the challenge for Asians was far greater than Europeans. Racism was a major component in making the transition more difficult for Asians.

Immigrants from China and Japan looked much different physically than Europeans. Europeans could essentially blend into the population because they were white, but Asians were victims of racial segregation and discrimination because of their different appearance.

The poor treatment of Asians was public policy as Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in the 1880's which banned Chinese from coming to America for ten years. This ban was made permanent in 1904. The United States made a Gentleman's Agreement with Japan to cooperate to prevent Japanese from migrating to the United States. Once in this country, it was uncommonly difficult for Asians to become citizens.

The apex of racial discrimination for Asian-Americans was their treatment during World War II. While the United States was at war with Germany and Japan, only Japanese citizens were forced to internment camps during the war.

All immigrant groups faced challenges in the United States, but the obstacles were much worse for Asians because of their race.