Filipino Migration to the U.S.

Racial Discrimination

The Filipinos in the U.S. during this time were in an ambiguous position. For one, since the Philippines was a U.S. colony, they had no sovereign government to speak for them. The 1924 Immigration Act deemed the Filipinos as neither aliens nor US citizens since they were a colonized people, although technically they were classified as US nationals.

Like other non-whites, Filipinos were racially discriminated against and stereotyped. They were often called half-civilized (or half-savage), uneducated, worthless, and unscrupulous. Racism against the Filipinos was strong since they were essentially viewed as taking the jobs of the white workers as well as their white women. They were accused of luring white women, hence an anti-miscegenation law was passed. They were also called wasteful for their alleged ostentatious display of lifestyle, mainly clothing. Filipinos were denounced as being prone to crime and violence. They were accused of living in substandard conditions where as many as twenty people slept in one room. In reality, though, these statements were mere racial prejudices. Filipinos were mostly men and the gender ratio between Filipino men and women in California was like 14:1. Filipino men sought the company of white women. Low wages, on the other hand, consigned Filipinos to poor living conditions since they could not afford better accommodation. In some cases, the housing accommodation provided by the growers was substandard.

Anti-Filipino discrimination was primarily due to economic reasons. Filipinos were disliked because they were seen as willing to work for low wages and, thus, were taking the jobs of white people. This was exacerbated by the preference in hiring Filipinos since their physique were perceived to be ideally suited for "stoop labor", i.e., bent down kind of work like cutting asparagus and planting cauliflower.