Currently, the nation’s 18 million Asians make up 6 percent of the U.S. population, including multiracial people. More than eight in 10 come from just six countries — China, the Philippines, India, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan. By comparison, the nation’s 52 million Hispanics make up almost 17 percent of the population.

The number of Asian-Americans as a percent of the U.S. population has doubled in the last two decades. In 1990 in the United States the population break down was: white (76 percent), black (12 percent), Latino (9 percent) and Asian (3 percent). In 2050 the figures are projected to be: white (52 percent), black (16 percent), Latino (22 percent) and Asian (10 percent). By the early 2000s Asian-Americans made up 4 percent of the population of the United States and by many measures were the fastest growing minority.

The number of Asia American quadrupled from 1.5 million in 1970 to 6 million in 1990. There were 10 million Asians in the United States in 2000 and rose by nearly one half between 2000 and 2010. AFP reported: The Asian American population totaled 14,674,252 as of 2010, a rise of 43 per cent from a decade earlier, the U.S. Census said in a study on race. Asians who identify with only one race now make up 4.8 per cent of the US population. Census guidelines on race historically have been subject to debate. According to the 2010 Census, Asian Americans include people tracing ancestry to the Indian subcontinent but not Arabs or Persians, who are considered white. The Census does not classify Hispanics as a race, with Hispanics also asked to identify themselves with one or more race.

Almost all Asian groups are found in the United States Most of them are Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, and Vietnamese. There are also hundreds of thousands of South Asian from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Chinese and Japanese have been around the longest. Large numbers of Koreans, Filipinos, and Vietnamese began arriving in the 1960s and 1970s. South Asians are more recent arrivals.

Asian-Americans are concentrated in certain areas, particularly on the West Coast. They make 19.3 percent of the Bay area and 31.1 percent of San Francisco. Some town in the Bay Area and the Los Angeles are more than 50 percent Asian. California, the most populous state and a major Asian American hub, is "majority minority" with 53.3 per cent belonging to minority groups.

As for the United States as a whole minorities make up 36.6 percent of the total population and more minorities are now born each years than white Caucasian babies. The Washington Post reported in May 2012: “Population estimates show that 50.4 percent of children younger than 1 last year were Hispanic, black, Asian American or in other minority groups. That’s almost a full percentage point higher than the 49.5 percent of minority babies counted when the decennial census was taken in April 2010. Census Bureau demographers said the tipping point came three months later, in July. [Source: Carol Morello and Ted Mellnik, Washington Post , May 16, 2012]

”The latest estimates, which gauge changes since the last census, are a reflection of an immigration wave that began four decades ago. The transformation of the country’s racial and ethnic makeup has gathered steam as the white population grows collectively older, especially compared with Hispanics. The census has forecast that non-Hispanic whites will be outnumbered in the United States by 2042, and social scientists consider that current status among infants a harbinger of the change.

Characteristics of Asians in the United States

Asian-Americans the highest income of all races, including whites, and are among the best educated of all ethnic groups. . In 1990, Asians made up 15 percent of the entering class at Harvard and 25 percent at MIT. Even so Asians get paid less than white for doing the same work. In 2010: Reuters Life reported: “Asian-American men are paid up to 29 percent less than equally qualified white males, according to a study published in the journal American Sociological Review. The gap is narrowest, at 8 percent, for U.S.-born Asian-Americans who speak fluent English and widest, at nearly 30 percent, for first-generation U.S. citizens who were born and educated abroad. [Source: Bernd Debusmann Jr, Reuters Life!, December 7, 2010]

Even men who were born and educated abroad but who received university degrees in the U.S. earn 14 percent less than white men. "The most striking result is that native-born Asian Americans - who were born in the U.S. and speak English perfectly - their income is 8 percent lower than whites after controlling for their college majors, their places of residence and their level of education," said Chang Hwan Kim. "No ethnic group has reached full parity with whites," the assistant professor of sociology at the University of Kansas added in a telephone interview.

The study showed the only sub-group of Asian-Americans who achieved income parity with whites was those who were born abroad, came to the United States as children, were educated in the country and speak fluent English. Kim credits their success to having seen their immigrant parents' achievements after arriving in the United States. He added that the research, based on data from the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates and involving people aged 25 to 64, does not explain the reasons for the lack of income parity. "The numbers don't show what causes the discrimination," he said. "It shows an improvement over previous generations, no doubt about it. He added that the future of income parity between Asian-Americans and whites depends largely on levels of anti-immigrant sentiment that may arise in tough economic times.

In 2006, there were reports of discrimination against Asian-Americans at polling stations during mid-term elections. Reuters reported: Laws that enable Asian Americans from countries including China, Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines to get language and other kinds of assistance with voting were often flouted at the 2006 mid-term congressional elections, according to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. The group cited examples of Asian Americans being asked to provide more identification than other citizens, in contravention of federal law. Those not on voter rolls but still eligible to vote were often not given provisional ballots to complete, it said in a report. [Source: Matthew Bigg, Reuters, January 10, 2008]

In a survey in 2011, media measurement company Nielsen found that Asian Americans watched less television than any other US group and spent more time on the Internet. But Asian Americans are not monolithic. Income, religions and languages varies widely among them. It can be argued that a Indian Hindu is quite different from a Thai Buddhist who in turn is quite different from a South Korea Christian.

Asian immigrants to the United States are most likely to naturalize (48 percent naturalization rate in 1990 compared to 36 percent for Africans and 28 percent for Latinos).

Blacks and Asians in the United States have median ages in their early 30s. The median age for Hispanics is under 28. In contrast the median age for whites is over 42, so many are beyond their prime childbearing years.

International and Interracial Marriage Between Asians and Whites

Half of all Asian-Americans marry non-Asians. In the United States in 2008 there were 43,100 marriages between whites and Asians, with 74 percent of them being between a white groom and Asian bride; 3,700 marriages between blacks and Asians, with 80 percent of them being between a black groom and Asian bride; and 6,700 marriages between Hispanic and Asians, with 58 percent of them being between a Hispanic groom and Asian bride. As a point of comparison there were 32,300 marriages between whites and blacks with 75 percent of them being between a black groom and white bride. [Source: National Geographic, Pew research]

Pew researcher jeff passel told National Geographic that immigrants tend not to intermarry but their children do. “As these couples have children, there will be more fuziness in how race and ethnic groups are defined.

Intermarriage rates are significantly higher among Asian women than among men. About 36 percent of Asian-American women married someone of another race in 2010, compared with about 17 percent of Asian-American men.

“The term Asian, as defined by the Census Bureau, encompasses a broad group of people who trace their origins to the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent, including countries like Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippine Islands and Vietnam. (The Pew Research Center also included Pacific Islanders in its study.)

White Guy, Asian Girl Becomes Commonplace in American Media

Paul Farhi wrote in the Washington Post: “Balding hipster-nerd brings his demure girlfriend to his boys’-night-out poker game. Girlfriend looks like an easy mark. But as the game unfolds, she’s not what she seems. Shedding her prim blouse and headband for a tight tank top, sunglasses and headphones, she turns out to be a smooth operator. “Bah-zing!” she says triumphantly at the end of the spot, laying down a hand that wipes the guys out. This scenario, from a new TV spot for Ruffles Ultimate chips, amusingly busts one stereotype (women can’t beat men at poker) but subtly reinforces another familiar ad trope. The boyfriend: Ordinary looking — and Caucasian. The girlfriend: Beautiful — and Asian American. [Source: Paul Farhi, Washington Post, September 27, 2012]

”White guy and Asian American woman. Now where have we seen this before? Actually, a number of places: 1) Chevrolet this summer featured an Asian American woman playing second fiddle to her Caucasian husband as he haggled with a car dealer (“Good job, baby,” she coos as hubby seals the deal). 2) Heineken imagined an exotic date in a commercial last year that paired a Caucasian guy with an exotic companion (Samantha Rex, a Thai American model- actress). Together, they cavorted through a nightclub filled with colorful characters. 3) Apple touted its iPhone in an ad in which a white soldier watches rapturously via the phone’s FaceTime feature as his very pregnant wife (Asian American) undergoes a sonogram.

”Asian Americans have gained a presence in commercials in recent years, with companies such as McDonald’s, Verizon, AT&T, Wal-Mart and others featuring them as individual characters and in a variety of settings. But when it comes to depicting couples, the portrayal goes mostly in one direction: White guy and Asian American woman. The combination may be the most common depiction of mixed-race couples in popular culture; African Americans are rarely glimpsed with white mates in TV shows or commercials, for example. It may even be more common than an Asian American man paired with an Asian American woman. And it’s a sore point among some Asian Americans.

”Frito-Lay says it had nothing more complicated in mind than to create an entertaining commercial when it produced its “Bah-zing!” spot. The PepsiCo subsidiary markets the snack product primarily to young men, so it was natural for the ad to depict “some bros hanging out, sharing an epic experience,” as spokesman Chris Kuechenmeister puts it. The boyfriend and girlfriend weren’t cast with any specific person or racial identity in mind, Kuechenmeister says. Instead, “we went with [actors] who brought the characters to life.”

History of White Guy, Asian Girl Portrayal in American Movies and Literature

Paul Farhi wrote in the Washington Post: “Ads featuring Caucasian males and Asian females play off a long history of such portrayals, says LeiLani Nishime, a professor and Asian studies scholar at the University of Washington. “I think part of the comfort with those images comes from the way they affirm a lot of stereotypes we already have about asexual Asian men and sexually available Asian women,” she says. [Source: Paul Farhi, Washington Post, September 27, 2012]

’such relationships have been the star-crossed heart of dozens of movies (‘shogun,” “The World of Suzie Wong” and “The Joy Luck Club” to name three), a recurring feature of numerous TV shows (“Ally McBeal,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Gilmore Girls” and the new “Elementary,” with Lucy Liu), and a theme of Broadway musicals (‘south Pacific,” “Miss Saigon”). Decades earlier, it was even the basis of an opera (“Madama Butterfly”).

”In TV news, the pairing of an older white man with a younger, Asian American, female co-anchor has become so familiar that some in the news business refer to it as “the Connie Chung effect.” Chung was the first Asian American female to co-anchor a network newscast (with Dan Rather) in 1993.

”Depictions of white American men with Asian women increased with American military involvement in Asian countries, first during World War II and then during the Vietnam era, said C.N. Le, director of the Asian and Asian American Studies Program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “Movies typically presented Asian women as exotic and sexually alluring, he said, although the portrayal wavered between the dangerous and conniving Asian female (the so-called Dragon Lady stereotype) and the passive and submissive character (the geisha or concubine). Asian men, by contrast, weren’t just the enemy of the Americans; they were the oppressors of Asian women, who relied on the American as her “white knight.”

Objections to White Guy, Asian Girl Portrayal in the American Media and Some Progress

Paul Farhi wrote in the Washington Post: “A coalition of Asian American activists, known as the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, has “regularly” raised objections to the image in meetings with studio and network representatives, says Bill Imada, chairman of IW Group, a Los Angeles-based ad agency. “It seems to be okay if the man is white and the woman is Asian. The community thinks it typecasts Asian women as exotic or as playthings.” At the same time, Imada says, “Asian males are just not viewed as being lovers, as being manly enough, or sexy enough, to carry a story or a commercial. The idea is that they’re not strong enough to woo a white woman. So they don’t get the roles — and are rarely paired with women of any race. [Source: Paul Farhi, Washington Post, September 27, 2012]

”It’s a very powerful media and cultural image, and I think Hollywood still runs with that,” Le says. “It appeals to a core part of the audience — white men.” Le says that audiences more readily accept the Caucasian-Asian pairing than black-white romantic relations, which have a much longer and more fraught history in America. “There are still a lot of unresolved issues regarding black-white relationships, he says. “The perception is that there isn’t as much of a drastic difference between Asian Americans and white Americans.

”Given that Asian Americans were once overlooked altogether in advertising, the current spate of Asian-Caucasian pairings may represent a kind of progress, Le says. In fact, these contemporary interracial couples are different from those of the past, Nishime says. The key difference, she says, is that the relationship is presented as “normal,” without the prejudices and cross-cultural baggage of the past. Except for the Heineken ad — in which the Asian American woman is portrayed as part of a strange and exotic world — the women aren’t the foreign or “mysterious” Dragon Ladies, Nishime notes: “In most of these commercials, the relationships are fairly mundane.”

”Imada sees change coming, albeit slowly. In the “Harold & Kumar” movies, he points out, the title characters (who are of Korean and East Indian descent) have non-Asian girlfriends. And on “The Walking Dead,” the post-apocalyptic drama series on AMC, a running plotline is a romance between a young Korean American man and a white woman over the objections of her father.

”But Imada, an advertising man, thinks TV commercials, rather than movies or TV, will show the way toward more imaginative and broader representations of Asian Americans and other minorities. He sees an increasing number of non-white ad-agency creative directors and corporate marketing executives, and a strong business rationale: Asian Americans constitute about 5 percent of the U.S. population, a demographic that marketers will ignore only at their peril, he says.

”A small but telling sign: McDonald’s this year aired a spot in which a young Asian American guy turns to his white, red-headed girlfriend and blurts, “I love you!” Seemingly stunned by the remark, she hesitantly replies that he’s “the Egg McMuffin of boyfriends.” It was a rare instance, and may have been the first, in which a TV commercial reversed the usual Asian and Caucasian roles.

Marriages Between Asians and Whites Declining in the U.S.

Miriam Jordan wrote in the Wall Street Journal: new research concludes that intermarriage rates between Hispanics and non-hispanic whites and between Asians and whites have declined or stagnated over the past two decades, due in part to a surge in immigration that has expanded the pool of people of marrying age in those groups. Scholars call the phenomenon a "retreat from intermarriage." [Source: Miriam Jordan, Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2010]

In a study, which analyzed data from the recently released 2008 American Community Survey compared to 1980 data, sociologists Daniel Lichter and Julie Carmalt of Cornell University and Zhenchao Qian of Ohio State University found the percentage of U.S.-born Asian women married to white men stagnated at about 40 percent between 1980 and 2008. "We would have expected Asians to be more likely to marry whites over time, given the fact there is more workplace and neighborhood integration today than in 1980," says Dr. Qian. Instead, the proportion of U.S. Asian women who married foreign-born Asian men, or immigrants, jumped five-fold, to 21 percent in 2008 from 4 percent in 1980.

"The massive influx of new immigrants from Latin America and Asia has not only fueled the opportunity to marry one's co-ethnics, but also revitalized ancestral and cultural identity," says Dr. Lichter. The trend raises questions about whether assimilation among Hispanics and Asians in the U.S. is slowing as they reconnect to their ancestral culture through marriage. For both Hispanics and Asians, intermarriage is more common among adults with a higher education. And U.S.-born adults are more likely than immigrants to marry across ethnic lines. Marriage between members of the same group is presumed to reinforce ethnic identity by offering more opportunities for ancestral food, language and customs to thrive in daily life. To be sure, cultural customs can thrive in interracial marriages too.

Interethnic marriage has long been viewed as bridging cultural divides and shrinking socio-economic inequality. The mixed-race children of interracial marriages further break down social boundaries. For decades, Hispanics, Asians and whites have lived in increasingly more integrated neighborhoods. However, the recent arrival of millions of new immigrants has fueled the growth of more ethnic enclaves in major U.S. cities and less interaction across ethnic and racial lines, scholars say. Asians represented 4.4 percent of the U.S. population in 2008, up from 0.7 percent in 1970.

Anti-immigrant sentiment that has flourished in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001, also could be contributing to a drop in intermarriage and a slowdown in "Americanization" among the younger generation, particularly among Hispanics. "When a group is attacked from the outside, there is more solidarity among them," says Dr. Lichter. "They turn inward."

Asian-Americans Increasingly Choosing Asian-American Marriage Partners

Rachel L. Swarns wrote in the New York Times, “Interracial marriage rates are at an all-time high in the United States, with the percentage of couples exchanging vows across the color line more than doubling over the last 30 years. But Asian-Americans are bucking that trend, increasingly choosing their soul mates from among their own expanding community. [Source: Rachel L. Swarns, New York Times, March 30, 2012]

“From 2008 to 2010, the percentage of Asian-American newlyweds who were born in the United States and who married someone of a different race dipped by nearly 10 percent, according to a recent analysis of census data conducted by the Pew Research Center. Meanwhile, Asians are increasingly marrying other Asians, a separate study shows, with matches between the American-born and foreign-born jumping to 21 percent in 2008, up from 7 percent in 1980.

“Asian-Americans still have one of the highest interracial marriage rates in the country, with 28 percent of newlyweds choosing a non-Asian spouse in 2010, according to census data. But a surge in immigration from Asia over the last three decades has greatly increased the number of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes, giving young people many more options among Asian-Americans. It has also inspired a resurgence of interest in language and ancestral traditions among some newlyweds.

“In 2010, 10.2 million Asian immigrants were living in the United States, up from 2.2 million in 1980. Today, foreign-born Asians account for about 60 percent of the Asian-American population here, census data shows. “Immigration creates a ready pool of marriage partners,” said Daniel T. Lichter, a demographer at Cornell University who, along with Zhenchao Qian of Ohio State University, conducted the study on marriages between American-born and foreign-born Asians. “They bring their language, their culture and reinforce that culture here in the United States for the second and third generations.”

“Of course, race is only one of many factors that can come to bear in the complicated calculus of romance. And marriage trends vary among Asians of different nationalities, according to C. N. Le, a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Dr. Le found that in 2010 Japanese-American men and women had the highest rates of intermarriage to whites while Vietnamese-American men and Indian women had the lowest rates.

Highly-Educated Chinese-Americans Finds Marital Bliss Together

Rachel L. Swarns wrote in the New York Times, “When she was a philosophy student at Harvard College eight years ago, Liane Young never thought twice about all the interracial couples who flitted across campus, arm and arm, hand in hand. Most of her Asian friends had white boyfriends or girlfriends. In her social circles, it was simply the way of the world. But today, the majority of Ms. Young’s Asian-American friends on Facebook have Asian-American husbands or wives. And Ms. Young, a Boston-born granddaughter of Chinese immigrants, is married to a Harvard medical student who loves skiing and the Pittsburgh Steelers and just happens to have been born in Fujian Province in China. [Source: Rachel L. Swarns, New York Times, March 30, 2012]

Ms. Young said she hadn’t been searching for a boyfriend with an Asian background. They met by chance at a nightclub in Boston, and she is delighted by how completely right it feels. They have taken lessons together in Cantonese (which she speaks) and Mandarin (which he speaks), and they hope to pass along those languages when they have children someday. “We want Chinese culture to be a part of our lives and our kids’ lives,” said Ms. Young, 29, an assistant professor of psychology at Boston College who married Xin Gao, 27, last year. “It’s another part of our marriage that we’re excited to tackle together.”

“Before she met Mr. Gao, Ms. Young had dated only white men, with the exception of a biracial boyfriend in college. She said she probably wouldn’t be planning to teach her children Cantonese and Mandarin if her husband had not been fluent in Mandarin. “It would be really hard,” said Ms. Young, who is most comfortable speaking in English.

“Ed Lin, 36, a marketing director in Los Angeles who was married in October, said that his wife, Lily Lin, had given him a deeper understanding of many Chinese traditions. Mrs. Lin, 32, who was born in Taiwan and grew up in New Orleans, has taught him the terms in Mandarin for his maternal and paternal grandparents, familiarized him with the red egg celebrations for newborns and elaborated on other cultural customs, like the proper way to exchange red envelopes on Chinese New Year. “She brings to the table a lot of small nuances that are embedded culturally,” Mr. Lin said of his wife, who has also encouraged him to serve tea to his elders and refer to older people as aunty and uncle.

Asian-American Marriage Partners Find a Cultural Bond They Couldn’t Find with White

Wendy Wang, the author of the Pew report, said that demographers have yet to conduct detailed surveys or interviews of newlyweds to help explain the recent dip in interracial marriages among native-born Asians. (Statistics show that the rate of interracial marriage among Asians has been declining since 1980.) But in interviews, several couples said that sharing their lives with someone who had a similar background played a significant role in their decision to marry.

It is a feeling that has come as something of a surprise to some young Asian-American women who had grown so comfortable with interracial dating that they began to assume that they would end up with white husbands. Chau Le, 33, a Vietnamese-American lawyer who lives in Boston, said that by the time she received her master’s degree at Oxford University in 2004, her parents had given up hope that she would marry a Vietnamese man. It wasn’t that she was turning down Asian-American suitors; those dates simply never led to anything more serious.Ms. Le said she was a bit wary of Asian-American men who wanted their wives to handle all the cooking, child rearing and household chores. “At some point in time, I guess I thought it was unlikely,” she said. “My dating statistics didn’t look like I would end up marrying an Asian guy.”

“But somewhere along the way, Ms. Le began thinking that she needed to meet someone slightly more attuned to her cultural sensibilities. That moment might have occurred on the weekend she brought a white boyfriend home to meet her parents. Ms. Le is a gregarious, ambitious corporate lawyer, but in her parents’ home, she said, “There’s a switch that you flip.” In their presence, she is demure. She looks down when she speaks, to demonstrate her respect for her mother and father. She pours their tea, slices their fruit and serves their meals, handing them dishes with both hands. Her white boyfriend, she said, was “weirded out” by it all. “I didn’t like that he thought that was weird,” she said. “That’s my role in the family. As I grew older, I realized a white guy was much less likely to understand that.”

“In fall 2010, she became engaged to Neil Vaishnav, an Indian-American lawyer who was born in the United States to immigrant parents, just as she was. They agreed that husbands and wives should be equal partners in the home, and they share a sense of humor that veers toward wackiness. (He encourages her out-of-tune singing and high kicks in karaoke bars.) But they also revere their family traditions of cherishing their elders.

“Mr. Vaishnav, 30, knew instinctively that he should not kiss her in front of her parents or address them by their first names. “He has the same amount of respect and deference towards my family that I do,” said Ms. Le, who is planning a September wedding that is to combine Indian and Vietnamese traditions. “I didn’t have to say, “Oh, this is how I am in my family.” “

Ann Liu, 33, a Taiwanese-American human resources coordinator in San Francisco, had a similar experience. She never imagined that an Asian-American husband was in the cards. Because she had never dated an Asian man before, her friends tried to discourage Stephen Arboleda, a Filipino-American engineer, when he asked whether she was single. “She only dates white guys,” they warned. But Mr. Arboleda, 33, was undeterred. “I’m going to change that,” he told them.

“By then, Ms. Liu was ready for a change. She said she had grown increasingly uncomfortable with dating white men who dated only Asian-American women. “It’s like they have an Asian fetish,” she said. “I felt like I was more like this “concept.” They couldn’t really understand me as a person completely.” Mr. Arboleda was different. He has a sprawling extended family — and calls his older relatives aunty and uncle — just as she does. And he didn’t blink when she mentioned that she thought that her parents might live with her someday, a tradition among some Asian-American families.

“At their October wedding in San Francisco, Ms. Liu changed from a sleek, sleeveless white wedding gown into the red, silk Chinese dress called the qipao. Several of Mr. Arboleda’s older relatives wore the white, Filipino dress shirts known as the barong. “There was this bond that I had never experienced before in my dating world,” she said. “It instantly worked. And that’s part of the reason I married him.”

Asians Outnumber Hispanics among New Immigrants to U.S.

In June 2012, Carol Morello wrote in the Washington Post: “Immigration from Latin America has dropped so precipitously that Asians now outnumber Hispanics among new arrivals in the United States, a new study shows.The switchover has been in place since at least 2009, according to the Pew Research Center, and is primarily the result of plunging immigration from Mexico, the birthplace of more U.S. immigrants than any other country. This year, Pew said more Mexicans may be leaving the United States than arriving for the first time since the Great Depression, due to weakness in the U.S. job market, a rise in deportation and a decline in Mexico’s birthrate. [Source: Carol Morello, Washington Post, June 18, 2012]

At the same time, the number of Asian immigrants has held steady or increased slightly. Pew’s analysis of census data estimated that 430,000 Asian immigrants came to the United States in 2010, making up 36 percent of all new immigrants, compared with 31 percent ((370,000), who were Hispanic. The reversal is a reminder of how the recession and an uneven recovery have altered not only how people live but, to a degree, who lives in the United States. Demographers and immigration analysts cautioned that the two largest and fastest-growing groups may eventually switch places again when the economy grows robust. But in the meantime, the about-face has the potential to tweak perceptions of immigrants and their role in society.

”If it continues, the face of immigrants in the country will change, and perhaps the reaction to immigration will change,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who has found that India is fueling most of the Asian population growth. “People have different perceptions of Asians than they do of Hispanics. Asians have always been seen as the model minority.”

The date suggests a slowdown in illegal immigration. “Most Asian and Hispanic immigrants arrive in the United States with very different backgrounds. Pew estimated that 13 to 15 percent of Asian immigrants over the past decade were undocumented, compared with 45 percent of Hispanic immigrants. More Asian immigrants are admitted with employment visas than those from other countries. Pew noted that just 16 percent of recent Hispanic adult immigrants have college degrees, compared with 28 percent of all adults in the United States. In contrast, more than two in three adult Asians who have immigrated in recent years either come to the United States to attend college or already have at least a bachelor’s degree, a distinction making them “the most highly educated cohort of immigrants in U.S. history.”

The typically high education levels of Asians have often fit U.S. immigration policy goals. Rob Paral, a Chicago-based demographic consultant to the American Immigration Council, said many of the poorest neighborhoods in big cities have Asian doctors who immigrated on the promise that they could stay permanently if they promise to work in an under-served area. “Asians are the group most likely to arrive explicitly because a hospital could not a find a native-born American to do their intern rounds,” he said. “Maybe now we’ll have the luxury to look at what Asian immigration means, showing how we can use immigration policy as a tool to fill our needs.”

Despite the reversal in positions for new immigrants, Hispanics still far outnumber Asians in the United States. There are already more Hispanics than the 41 million Asians that Pew predicts will live in the United States by 2050, around the time when non-Hispanic whites are predicted to be a minority. Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which opposes the Dream Act that would make legal some immigrants who came to the United States as children, said most Americans won’t even notice that Asians outnumber Hispanics as new arrivals. “I don’t think things are necessarily going to change much,” he said. “Even if Asians are the biggest new immigrant group, the blip of a few percentage points is not going to change the fact today’s immigration flow is remarkably un-diverse. That’s what drives much of the political concern in the public.”

Being Asian-American

Rebecca Yemin Shi wrote in the Chicago Tribune: “A recent Tribune report on population growth in the Chicago suburbs reminded me how it feels to be part of an ignored community. Though the Asian-American population has soared in Chicago in the last decade, the Tribune article spoke only of the growth in Latino and African-American populations. Asians were nowhere to be found. This invisibility comes at a high cost to me and many other Asian-Americans. [Source: Rebecca Yemin Shi, Chicago Tribune, November 11, 2007. In 2007 Shi was |an intern at the Asian American Institute and a senior at the University of Chicago]

”I was born in Beijing and came to America with my parents at age 10. We lived in predominantly white, upper-middle-class neighborhoods on the East Coast, and I rarely encountered other Asian faces or voices. What I did encounter was something that has troubled many people like me in this country: the image of the ideal Asian-American -- the model minority.

”On the third day after my arrival in America, my 4th-grade class participated in a scholastic competition. Jet-lagged and hardly speaking any English, I was told to raise my hand whenever I saw math equations on the blackboard. Not understanding why, I raised my hand as instructed and then stood dumbfounded in front of scores of students, teachers and parents. We lost the competition, and I was sent home with a letter asking my parents why their Asian daughter was not good at math. My parents did not exactly offer comfort and support. They sent me to my room to work on math problems for a week. For the first time, I found it difficult to inhabit my own skin.

”Ideas of who I should be rather than who I was followed me into high school. Under the pressures of taking five Advanced Placement classes a year, earning straight A's, running cross-country, playing my flute in an all-state orchestra and trying to maintain a social life, I struggled with depression. Sometimes I felt unable to get up in the morning to face another day of unattainable expectations. Being Asian-American seemed an unfortunate, burdensome inheritance. Only recently did I begin to understand how profoundly the distorted portrayals and lack of genuine Asian-American experiences have shaped my sense of self.

”This summer I took part in a leadership program that included a diverse group of young Asian-Americans, including a second-generation Vietnamese-American who was soon to become a teacher, and a fourth-generation Japanese-American launching a career in politics. Over six weeks, we shared our stories, making sure we presented our real selves, not idealized ones. We talked about the challenges of finding our places in a society that told us we were either model minorities or "Orientals" unable to assimilate. We also talked about the pressure we faced from own family members. Our parents forced upon us those same model minority stereotypes by caring more about their status within the community than our well-being.

”Through these brave, honest voices, I felt strengthened. I realized I didn't have to fit any stereotype or reach any standard. I saw that I could be anything -- a poet, a teacher, a community organizer -- not just the stereotypical lawyer or doctor. These voices gave me the confidence to find and tell my own story.

”Asian-Americans are overrepresented in stories about SAT scores yet underrepresented in other types of stories, such as coverage of the high suicide rates caused by pressure to attain unreachable standards. We are invisible in discussions on hate crimes, which gives license to those who think their violent acts against Asian-Americans will be seen as "pranks" rather than human rights violations. We deserve to feel empowered rather than be used as tools to advance certain issues. We deserve to be visible in our full, complex, varied and particular human wholeness, because the social and psychological costs of invisibility are too steep.

Asian-Americans Dominate Some Elite U.S. Universities

In 2007, the number of Asian-American freshman at Berkeley reached a record 46 percent and the overall Asian undergraduate population reached 41 percent.Timothy Egan wrote in the New York Times: The revolution at Berkeley is a quiet one, a slow turning of the forces of immigration and demographics. What is troubling to some is that the big public school on the hill certainly does not look like the ethnic face of California, which is 12 percent Asian, more than twice the national average. But it is the new face of the state’s vaunted public university system. Asians make up the largest single ethnic group, 37 percent, at its nine undergraduate campuses. [Source: Timothy Egan, New York Times, January 7, 2007]

In California, the rise of the Asian campus, of the strict meritocracy, has come at the expense of historically underrepresented blacks and Hispanics. This year, in a class of 4809, there are only 100 black freshmen at the University of California at Los Angeles — the lowest number in 33 years. At Berkeley, 3.6 percent of freshmen are black, barely half the statewide proportion. (In 1997, just before the full force of Proposition 209 went into effect, the proportion of black freshmen matched the state population, 7 percent.) The percentage of Hispanic freshmen at Berkeley (11 percent) is not even a third of the state proportion (35 percent). White freshmen (29 percent) are also below the state average (44 percent).

This is in part because getting into Berkeley — U.S. News & World Report’s top-ranked public university — has never been more daunting. There were 41,750 applicants for this year’s freshman class of 4,157. Nearly half had a weighted grade point average of 4.0 or better (weighted for advanced courses).

As to what happens to Asian students once they are on campus Berkeley student Jonathon Hu told the New York Times there is a fair amount of “selective self-racial segregation” at Berekely which is not unusual at a university this size: about 24,000 undergraduates. “The different ethnic groups don’t really interact that much,” he says. “There’s definitely a sense of sticking with your community.”

The diminishing number of African-Americans on campus is a consistent topic of discussion among black students. Some say they feel isolated, without a sense of community. “You really do feel like you stand out,” says Armilla Staley, a second-year law student. In her freshman year, she was one of only nine African-Americans in a class of 265. “I’m almost always the only black person in my class,” says Ms. Staley, who favors a return to some form of affirmative action. “Quite frankly, when you walk around campus, it’s overwhelmingly Asian,” she says. “I don’t feel any tension between Asians and blacks, but I don’t really identify with the Asian community as a minority either.”

Asians the “New Jews” at American Universities

Timothy Egan wrote in the New York Times: Asians have become the “new Jews,” in the phrase of Daniel Golden, whose recent book, “The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way Into Elite Colleges — and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates,” is a polemic against university admissions policies. Mr. Golden, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, is referring to evidence that, in the first half of the 20th century, Ivy League schools limited the number of Jewish students despite their outstanding academic records to maintain the primacy of upper-class Protestants. Today, he writes, “Asian-Americans are the odd group out, lacking racial preferences enjoyed by other minorities and the advantages of wealth and lineage mostly accrued by upper-class whites. Asians are typecast in college admissions offices as quasi-robots programmed by their parents to ace math and science.” [Source: Timothy Egan, New York Times, January 7, 2007]

A study released in October 2007 by the Center for Equal Opportunity, an advocacy group opposing race-conscious admissions, showed that in 2005 Asian-Americans were admitted to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, at a much lower rate (54 percent) than black applicants (71 percent) and Hispanic applicants (79 percent) — despite median SAT scores that were 140 points higher than Hispanics and 240 points higher than blacks.

To force the issue on a legal level, a freshman at Yale filed a complaint in the fall with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, contending he was denied admission to Princeton because he is Asian. The student, Jian Li, the son of Chinese immigrants in Livingston, N.J., had a perfect SAT score and near-perfect grades, including numerous Advanced Placement courses. “This is just a very, very egregious system,” Mr. Li said. “Asians are held to different standards simply because of their race.”

To back his claim, he cites a 2005 study by Thomas J. Espenshade and Chang Y. Chung, both of Princeton, which concludes that if elite universities were to disregard race, Asians would fill nearly four of five spots that now go to blacks or Hispanics. Affirmative action has a neutral effect on the number of whites admitted, Mr. Li is arguing, but it raises the bar for Asians. The way Princeton selects its entering class, Mr. Li wrote in his complaint, “seems to be a calculated move by a historically white institution to protect its racial identity while at the same time maintaining a facade of progressivism.”

Do U.S. Universities Discriminate Against Asian-Americans?

Stephen Hsu wrote in Bloomberg: It’s a common belief among Asian- American families that their children are held to higher academic standards than college applicants from other ethnic groups. Such practices were openly acknowledged after investigations at universities like Berkeley and Stanford in the 1980s and 1990s. Have they been corrected? The U.S. Education Department is investigating complaints that Harvard University and Princeton University discriminated against Asian-Americans in undergraduate admissions. [Source: Stephen Hsu, Bloomberg, February 2, 2012]

’statistics seem to support the claim of bias across most of elite higher education. For example, in comprehensive data compiled as part of Duke University’s Campus Life and Learning project (as reported in a recent analysis by Duke economist Peter Arcidiacono and collaborators), Asian-Americans who enrolled at the school in 2001 averaged 1457 out of 1600 on the math and reading part of the SAT, compared with 1416 for whites, 1347 for Hispanics and 1275 for blacks.

”There is every reason to believe that a similar pattern holds at nearly all elite universities in the U.S., with notable exceptions such as the California Institute of Technology. In fact, Duke may be one of the mildest offenders when it comes to Asian-American admissions: With the goal of increasing its overall student quality, Duke has reportedly been more friendly recently to Asian-American applicants than traditional powers such as Harvard and Princeton.

’schools like Harvard and Princeton brag that each year they reject numerous applicants such as Jian Li (who filed a complaint against Princeton) who score a perfect 2400 on the SAT. How would we feel if it were revealed that almost all of these rejected top scorers, year after year, were Asian- Americans? I challenge Harvard and Princeton to refute this possibility.

”To be fair, most elite universities practice what is known as holistic admissions: Each candidate is evaluated on a variety of measures, including athletic and leadership activities in addition to academic performance. It is possible that the gap in academic average between Asian-American and white admitted students is compensated by gaps in the opposite direction on these other variables. Looking again at internal evaluations by Duke’s admissions office, we find Asian-Americans had higher averages than whites in the following categories: achievement, curriculum (each about one-third of a standard deviation) and letters of recommendation, while trailing very slightly (less than one-tenth of a standard deviation) in personal qualities.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, The Guardian, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

Last updated November 2012

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