Two Centuries of Filipino Immigration to the US

 Fil-Ams celebrate Philippine Independence Day in San Francisco (Photo by Raymond Virata)

Fil-Ams celebrate Philippine Independence Day in San Francisco (Photo by Raymond Virata)

 Top 25 Totals of Persons Obtaining Legal Permanent Residence by Country of Last Residence (1820-2013)

Top 25 Totals of Persons Obtaining Legal Permanent Residence by Country of Last Residence (1820-2013)

Filipinos are the 12th largest population of foreign nationals who have obtained legal permanent residence in the US from 1820 to 2013.

June 2015 marks the second anniversary of the Immigrant Heritage Month (IHM) in the United States.

The nonprofit organization Welcoming America initiated the celebration in 2014 “to encourage every American to tell the story of how they first felt welcomed to the American experience.” 

This year, President Barack Obama, a known supporter of immigration reform, acknowledged IHM in his weekly address. In his speech, he not only promoted the sharing of individual success stories but lobbied for the ongoing need to fix the broken immigration system. 

We join the IHM celebration by tracing Filipino immigration to the US and visualizing Filipino patterns of emigration here. The graphs here are based on US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data.  

 Total number of Filipinos Gaining Lawful Permanent Residence, 1940 - Present (est. by 2019)

Total number of Filipinos Gaining Lawful Permanent Residence, 1940 - Present (est. by 2019)

 Total number of Filipinos Gaining Lawful Permanent Residence, 1870 - 2009

Total number of Filipinos Gaining Lawful Permanent Residence, 1870 - 2009

 Philippines is among the top 8 countries for total number of people gaining lawful permanent residence in the US, 1990-2013

Philippines is among the top 8 countries for total number of people gaining lawful permanent residence in the US, 1990-2013

The data reflects different nationalities obtaining legal permanent residence in the United States starting in 1820, a year after the American Congress passed the Steerage Act of 1819 that required ship captains to keep track of immigrants who came to the US. However, it is not until 1870 to 1879 that a tally of Filipinos appear on the list, although researcher Eloisa Gomez Borah has been able to trace the presence of Filipinos in the US from 1587 to the 1850s. 

It could also be assumed that ranking does not take into account the undocumented TNTs (tago ng tago or illegal immigrants in hiding). 

The non-government organization Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) also said that there were four waves of Filipino migration, the second wave of which took place from early to mid-20th century, ushering in more than 100,000 Filipino plantation workers in Hawaii who were at that time considered US nationals because the Philippines was a US colony. This was also not in the DHS data. 

From the 1950s to present, DHS data showed a consistent rise of Filipino immigration to the US. This corresponds with CMA’s third and fourth waves of increased immigration to the US when the country lifted the ban on Asian immigration in 1952 and Martial Law drove Filipinos to seek stable opportunities outside the country, respectively. 

The original of this article appears in http://www.loveonexcel.com/2015/06/two-centuries-of-filipino-immigration.html


 Kira and Ray Del Rosario

Kira and Ray Del Rosario

Ray and Kira Del Rosario co-author Loveonexcel.com, a US immigration blog written from both their perspectives. Ray Del Rosario is a first-generation immigrant, and his wife Kira Del Rosario (Artha Kira Paredes) was a journalist in the Philippines and is a recent immigrant.