Minoo Netervala, on far right, rides a carousel with friends, 1952.
The women are from the University of California Los Angeles, and the men are from the University of Southern California. The female student wearing the sari would have been rare in this period since most students from India were men.
On July 2, 1946, partly due to the assistance India provided to the Allied Forces in World War II, Congress passed the Luce-Celler Bill. This removed restrictions on Asian Indian immigration and gave India an annual immigration quota of one hundred. Asian Indian immigrants now had naturalization rights. Asian Indian men who had not seen their wives and children in over thirty years were now able to send for their families and build a new life in the United States.
Asian American contingent in solidarity with Chicanas/os at a march against deportations, East Los Angeles, summer 1976. Photo courtesy of Mary Kao.
Census and other studies have put the number of all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. at approximately 12 million. About 1.5 million are Asians — representing 12 percent of the total Asian population — with 23 percent estimated to be Chinese, 17 percent Filipino, 14 percent Indian, 11 percent Koreans and the balance from a variety of smaller countries, all with different issues.
For instance, huge backlogs exist in families where immigrant citizens or legal permanent residents can bring spouses, parents and minor children from overseas. Their wait times are heartbreaking. The longest is for Filipinos, Narasaki said — they currently must wait about 19 years to reunite with family members. Chinese and Indians face up to nine-year waits.
Then there are the concerns of refugees from Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma who are wary about strict filing deadlines for asylum claims and crackdowns on deportations for minor criminal offenses.
Filipino American recreation hall at 245 S. Main Street, Los Angeles. 1940.
Though most of the Filipinos living in Southern California today made their residence in the United States after the Immigration Act of 1965, immigrants from the Philippines established settlements in the region decades before. A 1924 immigration law prohibited any immigration from Asian countries. However, since the Philippines was U.S. territory, immigration to the United States was not restricted for Filipinos. Between the years of 1924 and 1934, an additional law was enacted to restrict the number of Filipinos who could enter the States to 50 per year. The first substantial wave of Filipinos settled in Los Angeles in the 1920s. By the first quarter of the 20th century, a small Filipino enclave was developing in the impoverished Downtown area, between Main and Los Angeles Streets. Due to racially restrictive covenants and discrimination, this was the only area in Los Angeles that the rental market allowed them to rent at that time.
The Luce-Cellar Act of 1946. President Harry Truman signs into law the Luce Cellar Act, granting naturalization rights to Filipinos and Asian Indians.
This Act effectively ended statutory discrimination against these two Asian American groups erstwhile deemed ‘unassimilable’ along with most other Asian Americans. Immigration rights were established as a token, allowing a meager 100 immigrants per year from India and 100 more from the Philippines.
In California, a small “Mexican-Hindu” community rose up in the early 20th century, as male immigrants from Punjab – mostly Sikh – married Hispanic women and started uniquely bicultural families. U.S. immigration laws restricted South Asian women from immigrating to America, while miscegenation laws forbid South Asian men from marrying white women. Marriages between South Asian men and Hispanic women – classified by law within the same racial category – resulted in bicultural children with names like “Maria Singh” and “Jose Rai.”
Physical exams at Angel Island. After being assigned a barrack and bunk, new arrivals underwent a medical examination shortly after reaching the island. Unfamiliar with the language, customs, and Western medical procedures, the examination was often characterized by newcomers as humiliating and barbaric. Photo Sources: National Archives