Filipinos constitute a small but increasingly significant minority group on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Filipino immigrants have a relatively short history in the state. In 1960, according to the US census, Mississippi was home to only 59 people of Philippine ancestry, about half of them in Harrison County. That number grew steadily over the rest of the century, reaching 1,043 in 1980, 1,565 in 1990, and 3,845 in 2000. The 2010 census counted 3,562 Filipinos, making them the state’s fourth-largest Asian immigrant group, behind Vietnamese, Indians, and Chinese. By far the largest number of Filipinos in the state live in Harrison County, and very few live in rural areas.
Changes in American immigration laws account for a good deal of that dramatic increase in population. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act replaced national origin quotas with preferences for people with particular skills and for unifying families. Since 1965 about half a million Filipinos have come to the United States every decade.
In Mississippi, as in many parts of the United States, many Filipinos are doctors and nurses. According to historian Barbara Posadas, “Filipino American health care professionals veritably define the ethnic group in the minds of many Americans.” Those health care professionals who came to the United States because of their especially desirable skills are also notable in that they came with family members. Unlike many American immigrant groups, Filipinos tend to have relatively even gender ratios and to live in large family groups.
- Hazel McFerson, ed., Blacks and Asians: Crossings, Conflict, and Commonality (2006)
- Philippine News website, www.philippinenews.com
- Barbara M. Posadas, The Filipino Americans (1999)
- Maria P. P. Root, ed., Filipino Americans: Transformation and Identity (1997)
- US Census Population Reports, www.census.gov