WASHINGTON, DC – The history of the United States is intricately intertwined with immigration from various parts of the world in search of new opportunities and a better future. Among the immigrant groups that played a significant role in the country’s construction and development, Chinese immigrants have a rich and impactful history dating back to the early 19th century.
The Chinese immigration movement to the US officially began in 1820, when the first Chinese immigrants arrived on the American West Coast. Despite facing challenges and discrimination, these pioneers contributed to infrastructure building, such as railways and mining, playing a pivotal role in the region’s economic development. However, it wasn’t until 1868, with the signing of the Burlingame Treaty, that Chinese immigration began to be officially recognized and regulated.
A significant milestone in Chinese immigration history was achieving American permanent residency, also known as a “green card.” During the 1970s, specifically from 1970 to 1979, there was a peak in granting green cards to Chinese immigrants, totaling an impressive 707,314 issued documents, according to data from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) analyzed by Risch Law Firm.
This period was marked by a wave of Chinese immigrants seeking educational, economic, and political opportunities in the United States.
Challenges and obstacles, including exclusion laws and discriminatory policies, also marked the history of Chinese immigration.
er the onset of the global pandemic, immigration worldwide was affected, including Chinese immigration to the United States. However, as restrictions began to ease, there was a resurgence in the number of Chinese permanent residents in the US. In 2020, despite difficulties, 39,642 green cards were issued to Chinese immigrants, a sign of resilience and determination in the face of adversity.
The numbers continued to grow in 2021, with 48,072 green cards issued to Chinese immigrants. While the fiscal year from 2022 to 2023 has not yet been consolidated, trends indicate ongoing growth in granting permanent residency to this community.
Over the past two years, the granting of permanent residency to Chinese immigrants has grown by about 21%. This reflects these individuals’ determination to seek better opportunities in the United States and underscores the ongoing importance of Chinese immigrants in the country’s cultural diversity, economy, and social development.
American naturalization in numbers
China ranks third in this process, with 29,227 people acquiring American citizenship. Topping the list, the Philippines led with 48,478 naturalizations, followed by Cuba with 47,919. Brazil ranks 11th, with 12,448 individuals choosing to become US citizens. In the last fiscal year, the US government recorded 813,861 immigrants becoming citizens of the United States.
Written by MIGUEL RISCH – Brazilian and American lawyer, a master’s degree in International Law from the University of Miami, and founder of Risch Law Firm in the United States.