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Race and Ethnicity - Asian Americans

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As with Hispanics, the term Asian American refers to a broad range of national and cultural identities. Asians were subjected to considerable racial prejudice in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Congress passed immigration laws as late as the 1920s prohibiting further entry of Asians into the country and blocking requests for U.S. citizenship. During World War II some 120,000 Japanese Americans were imprisoned for up to three years out of suspicion of potential wartime criminal activity based solely on their ethnicity.

The Asian American population rose from over seven million in 1990 to about twelve million in 2000. Despite a strong history of discrimination, some Asian American groups such as the Japanese have been very successful in U.S. society while others such as the Chinese have not. The Asian American population is concentrated in California, Washington, New York, and Nevada.

Many Chinese Americans live in urban Chinatowns located within large cities. Chinatowns often have very high poverty rates, FBI Director Louis Freeh claimed that Asian street gangs are becoming more organized and are growing threats. (AP/Wide World Photos) and youth gangs have been an outcome of this poverty and isolation. More recently, young immigrants from Hong Kong have formed gangs. Asian organized crime has also penetrated the United States, becoming a major force in drug trafficking.

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