News / USA

Chinese, Mexican Americans Share Similar Immigrant Experience

Chinese, Mexican Americans Share Similar Immigrant Experiencei
X
May 28, 2014 1:49 PM
More immigrants live in the western state of California than anywhere else in the United States. Among the largest immigrant groups -- either legal or without legal documents -- are Mexicans and Chinese. These two ethnic groups may come from different places, but they share many similarities, as Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Elizabeth Lee
More immigrants live in the western state of California than anywhere else in the United States.   Among the largest immigrant groups -- either legal or without legal documents -- are Mexicans and Chinese.  These two ethnic groups may come from different places, but they share many similarities.

People often find 21-year-old Jonathan Wong a mystery. “They go are you filipino? Are you Mexican? Are you Pacific Islander? Are you Hawaiian?” he recalled.

Wong is actually a fourth-generation Chinese and third-generation Mexican American.  He finds there is one thing both cultures deeply value. “The connection you have with your family in general. Both of them are very family oriented,” he noted.

Like many immigrants, Wong’s Mexican and Chinese ancestors came to the U.S. for a better life, said Shelley Fisher Fishkin of Stanford University. “The Chinese who came to the U.S. in the middle of the 19th century and then Mexicans who came at the end of the 19th century or early 20th century were lured by the possibility of creating opportunities for their families that were not possible in their home countries,” she said.

These new immigrants often faced discrimination and worked as laborers, either as modern-day Mexican migrant workers or as Chinese railroad workers in the 19th century.  

In an art exhibit that looks at the two immigrant experiences, one piece has railroad tracks buried under a giant mound of fortune cookies.  Created by artist Hung Liu, the image depicts the early Chinese immigrants who came to dig for gold or labor on the railroads.

“The very reason the Chinese first came here is to escape from the economic despair in China,” Hung Liu stated.

Steven Wong, the curator of the Chinese American Museum, said immigrants from both countries still come at any cost.

“I think not a lot of people realize that there still is a lot of unskilled labor coming in from both communities and not a lot of people know, too, when it comes to immigration and immigration reform usually people associate that with “Oh, that’s a Latino issue.”  But that’s also a big Asian issue of undocumented immigrants coming in also -- specifically Chinese.” said Wong.

Often, both groups also live in ethnic enclaves.

Artist Tony de los Reyes experienced this while growing up in Los Angeles. “The border of Mexico now extends in certain small areas within Los Angeles even though the physical border may be 120 miles [200 kilometers] south,” he explained.

Mostly-Mexican East Los Angeles is one such area.  Neighboring it is Monterey Park, a predominantly Chinese suburb.  While these immigrant groups may live near each other, de los Reyes said the two do not often mix.  “You’re going to have this push and pull between not wanting to be in a place because the culture is different and then also being attracted to it,” he said.

But Jonathan Wong said the boundaries are blurring.  That’s why he’s not surprised his parents married. “Look how much blending there is. It’s not even weird at all like how they would have met and how they could have come across each other and hit it off,” he stated.

He expects more blending of the two cultures in other parts of the United States, as immigrants and their descendants continue to seek the American dream.

You May Like

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

update Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
May 29, 2014 2:09 AM
Save our planet. China is large polluter of our global environment. Boycott products that are "MADE IN CHINA"

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs