Throughout the nineteenth century, there was very little immigration by the Asian population into Wisconsin.1 United States immigration policies, spanning from 1882 to 1934, were used to ban Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Philippine populations from immigrating to this country.2 During World War II, over 100,000 Japanese American citizens were sent to internment camps, including Wisconsin's Camp McCoy.3
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 Act.4 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 1990s.5 Thirty-eight percent of Asians in Wisconsin are Hmong.6
Hmong people were recruited during the Vietnam War as guerilla soldiers.7 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 danger.8 After the war ended, the Hmong population sought refuge in neighboring Thailand refugee camps because of persecution and imprisonment.9 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 States.10 Many small towns in Wisconsin began Asian-refugee settlement programs, with the encouragement of religious leaders and the government.11
Currently, Wisconsin has the third largest Hmong population in the U.S; Minnesota and California have the top two populations.12 The largest communities in Wisconsin are in La Crosse, Sheboygan, Green Bay, Wausau, and Milwaukee.13 Cambodian, Laotian, Vietnamese, and ethnic Chinese are additional refugee populations found in Wisconsin.14
- Atlantic Monthly, April 1994
Additional Information About Asian Americans in Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Interactive Statistics on Health (WISH), an interactive data query system, provides African American population estimates and other health-related data about African Americans in Wisconsin.
- Wisconsin Minority Health Report, 2001-2005, P-45716 (PDF) provides health-related findings about African Americans in Wisconsin.
- Wisconsin Historical Society
- University of Wisconsin at Madison, Center for East Asian Studies
- University of Wisconsin at Madison, Center for Southeast Asian Studies
- University of Wisconsin at Madison, Center for South Asia
- Collaborative Center for Health Equity
- U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates Program