Asian Americans in Wisconsin
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Throughout the nineteenth century, there was very little immigration by
the Asian population into Wisconsin1. United
States immigration policies, spanning from 1882 to 1934, were used to ban
Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Philippine populations from immigrating to
this country2. During World War II, over 100,000 Japanese American
citizens were sent to internment camps, including Wisconsin's Camp McCoy3.
Immigration reform policy removed previously established restrictions
based on national origin by giving preference to family reunification and
political refugees with the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act4.
In more recent times, the Asian population has increased with the immigration
of Hmong refugees from Laos. About 100,000 Hmong fled to this country as
political refugees from 1975 to the 1990s5. Thirty-eight percent of
Asians in Wisconsin are Hmong 6.
Hmong people were recruited during the Vietnam War as guerilla soldiers7.
They were United States allies in a fight against communist rule. Their fight
against the North Vietnamese caused them to live directly in the conflict and
in constant danger8. After the war ended, the Hmong population
sought refuge in neighboring Thailand refugee camps because of persecution
and imprisonment9. With the sponsorship of organizations, such as
the U.S. Catholic Conference and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services,
the Hmong began to immigrate to the United States10. Many small
towns in Wisconsin began Asian-refugee settlement programs, with the
encouragement of religious leaders and the government11.
Currently, Wisconsin has the third largest Hmong population in the U.S;
Minnesota and California have the top two populations12. The
largest communities in Wisconsin are in La Crosse, Sheboygan, Green Bay,
Wausau, and Milwaukee13. Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese, and
ethnic Chinese are additional refugee populations found in Wisconsin14.
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Back to Minority Populations in Wisconsin
- Atlantic Monthly, April 1994
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April 21, 2014