Asian Immigration on Rise in California, But Challenges Remain

Asians entering California now outnumber Latinos, but there are impediments to their developing a strong political voice

By Gordon Tokumatsu and Bill French
|  Thursday, Jan 17, 2013  |  Updated 6:32 PM PDT
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Asian Immigration on Rise in CA, But Challenges Remain

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

At Park's Finest Restaurant near Filipinotown, owner Johneric Concordia says California's new immigration trend will translate into something important to him.

"Now we're in a position where we can really advocate," says Concordia.

Concordia is talking about flexing some political muscle.

His parents came to Los Angeles from the Philippines. They faced different challenges than those faced by their children and grandchildren.

Related: Asians Overtake Latin Americans in Immigration to California

Now, he looks forward to a California where loans, scholarships and candidates for public office are all more accessible. He's looking ahead.

"Part of it is, really the next generation and the generation after that," he says.

Demographic experts say there is one important reason why Asian immigrants may face a steeper hill than their Latino counterparts.

"Because there are so many languages," says Dan Ichinose of the Asian Pacific America Legal Center. "The community is so diverse."

Despite cultural differences, most Latinos share Spanish language in common. That's helped them become a political force.

It's a bit different for Asians. Koreans don't speak Chinese, Chinese don't speak Vietnamese, etc.

"We really need to be able to serve these communities, in ways that we've been able to serve Latinos," says Ichinose.

Asian-Americans say high tech industries and advanced education may have contributed to their immigration surge.

But the biggest advancements may depend on how well they embrace English as a second language.

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