The rise in anti-Asian bias attacks and rhetoric have brought new attention to numerous stereotypes that have long plagued Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the United States. While last week's post focused on the model minority myth, unpacking how the high achievement metrics of AAPIs in general masks the needs and realities of more vulnerable AAPI communities, this week we focus on another stereotype, that of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as perpetual foreigners. The perpetual foreign stereotype depicts Asian American and Pacific Islanders as outsiders and aliens regardless of where they were born or how long they have lived in the United States.
This all, of course, runs counter to the reality and the data. Asian American and Pacific Islanders have a long history in what is now the United States, dating back to the 18th century. Moreover, after decades of significant immigration from Asia following the 1965 removal of discriminatory country quotas, the AAPI community is increasingly U.S.-born, with the U.S.-born AAPI population now growing faster than the AAPI immigrant population. On top of this, immigrant Asian American and Pacific Islanders now have higher than average rates of naturalization and 2020 saw the highest voter participation rates for AAPI voters in history. But, despite these positive developments, issues that affect some segments of the AAPI community still merit attention, including undocumented immigrants and certain immigrant groups with limited English language proficiency.