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Asian-American: Immigrant vs. Nonimmigrant

The term "Asian-American" paints with a broad brush note only diverse peoples and cultures, but also collapses the boundary between immigrant and nonimmigrant. As a recent NPR survey shows, there are many intriguing differences between the two groups, especially in perceptions of prejudice.

First of all, Asian-Americans families in general report persistent signs of discrimination in several situations and sectors of society such as applying for jobs, being paid or promoted equally, and renting or buying housing. This goes to show that income is seldom a shield from discrimination, since Asian-Americans have high average incomes, outpacing other racial or ethnic groups.

Taking a closer look, however, at the aforementioned divide between immigrant and nonimmigrant that is so often ignored, we come to the conclusion that nonimmigrant Asian Americans seem to bear the brunt of prejudice more heavily in almost all sectors, with the exception of healthcare. They feel the insidious effects of discrimination more acutely than their immigrant counterparts in areas such as threats or nonsexual harassment, sexual harassment, and violence. Curiously, in the realm of healthcare, this split is reversed; immigrant Asian-Americans were 17 times more likely to report discrimination based upon their heritage.

Another noteworthy outcome is that while Asian-Americans frequently report instances of offensive comments or racial slurs, they seldom seem to be a cause of fear. On another note, Indian-Americans report many more instances of unfair police stops or treatment. All in all, however, Asian-Americans deem discrimination by individuals is a larger issue than discrimination embedded in social systems such as the law and government policies.

It is always imperative to break down the term "Asian American" and focus on the nuances — not only between specific nationalities, but also between categorizations as simple as immigrant and nonimmigrant that are so frequently glossed over. It is by analyzing these nuances that we can arrive at fine-tuned conclusions that can lead to effective policies.


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