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The Good Immigrants: How the Yellow Peril…

The Good Immigrants: How the Yellow Peril Became the Model Minority

by Madeline Y. Hsu

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Have had this book on my list for quite awhile and finally got around to reading it with AAPI month. Author Hsu looks at the "elite" immigrants who were able to migrate to the US and get exceptions/exemptions. These immigrants include intellectuals, businessmen, and students, and how it has affected everything from immigration policy to perceptions to how, as the title says, they became the "model minority."

This was a fascinating topic to study. There are a lot of perceptions of immigrants being low-skilled, low educated, etc. and arrive to the US (speaking, of course, from a US-centric perspective) looking for handouts and "free stuff" from the government. This book upends this and shows how these "elite" were integrated (or not) in the US.

I found the education/student angle really interesting in light of the recent stories of how schools deliberately try to find foreign students (who pay more tuition), how students question how "safe" the US is at this current time, what is the role of universities/colleges in US foreign policy, etc. I'm not sure people (or myself) really understand the role schools and education play in influencing non-US students and this book was helpful in shedding some light on that.

However, the book was really difficult to read. It's overly academic and rather dense text-wise. I got the feeling that I would have benefited reading this in the context of a class or reading list. At times the author is overly wordy and while the topic was interesting, it was a really tough go.

But if this is a topic that interests you, by all means, give it a go. Strongly recommend the library unless you need it for a reference. ( )
  acciolibros | May 11, 2018 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0691164029, Hardcover)

Conventionally, US immigration history has been understood through the lens of restriction and those who have been barred from getting in. In contrast, The Good Immigrants considers immigration from the perspective of Chinese elites--intellectuals, businessmen, and students--who gained entrance because of immigration exemptions. Exploring a century of Chinese migrations, Madeline Hsu looks at how the model minority characteristics of many Asian Americans resulted from US policies that screened for those with the highest credentials in the most employable fields, enhancing American economic competitiveness.

The earliest US immigration restrictions targeted Chinese people but exempted students as well as individuals who might extend America's influence in China. Western-educated Chinese such as Madame Chiang Kai-shek became symbols of the US impact on China, even as they patriotically advocated for China's modernization. World War II and the rise of communism transformed Chinese students abroad into refugees, and the Cold War magnified the importance of their talent and training. As a result, Congress legislated piecemeal legal measures to enable Chinese of good standing with professional skills to become citizens. Pressures mounted to reform American discriminatory immigration laws, culminating with the 1965 Immigration Act.

Filled with narratives featuring such renowned Chinese immigrants as I. M. Pei, The Good Immigrants examines the shifts in immigration laws and perceptions of cultural traits that enabled Asians to remain in the United States as exemplary, productive Americans.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 31 Aug 2015 06:39:38 -0400)

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