From 1990 to 2013, Filipinos are among the top 5 nationalities that have gained legal permanent residence in the States.
The Center for American Progress identified Filipino sailors as the first Asian settlers in the country when they arrived in Louisiana in the mid-1700s.
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.
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
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.