Asian American Community

The Asian American community is the fastest growing minority group in the United States. Nationally Asian Americans lead in percent of adults aged 25 and older having a bachelor’s degree (49% vs national average of 28%). It is because of this cultural focus on education that allowed them to have a higher earned income per capita in the U.S. with the median earned income for Asian Americans in 2012 (American Community Survey) being $76,747 compared to the total median income of $51,939.

In Texas alone, there are 1.1 million Asian Americans with a growth rate of 7.9% in the span of just two years (2010-2012). Adding to this growth is the steady increase of Asian Americans coming to San Antonio. At the moment Asian Americans make up about 2.5% of the population of San Antonio (2012 American Community Survey) which translates to over 36,000 individuals with Chinese and South Asian Americans each making up 37% respectively, Japanese making up 12% and 14% coming from all other parts of Asia. Among the adult population aged 25 and older in Bexar County, 51% of Asian Americans have a bachelor’s degrees or higher followed by a distant second of 30% of the white adult group. For Asian Americans in Bexar County, the top 3 occupational choices are sales, food services, and office administration. However proportionally, the top three professions with over-representations of Asian Americans in Bexar County are computer and mathematical occupations, doctors/ physicians/ scientists, and personal care occupations, relative to the overall population average. Asians are also over represented as business owners, where Asian owned businesses make up 3.6% of all businesses when Asian Americans represent only 2.5% of the population in the San Antonio area.

Chinese Community

At the end of the 19th century Chinese were brought to the United States as cheap labor to help build the railroads. Records indicate that the first 250 Chinese railroad laborers came to Texas in 1870. The most recent statistics indicate that the Chinese now equate to (1.3%) of the recorded population of the United States and the census records of the State of Texas indicate that (0.92%) of its residents are Chinese.

From these humble beginnings the Chinese culture has become a recognizable and growing part of the United States and of San Antonio. Today the Chinese American population of San Antonio includes mainly business proprietors and career professionals in the areas of management, science, engineering, education, medicine and research and represents a small but growing segment of the voting population.

The vast majority of the Chinese Americans in San Antonio are first generation immigrants in the United States and came from China and Taiwan. Others were born in the United States. Regardless of their birth country, the Chinese Americans are bound by a set of social norms and share a strong sense of pride in their cultural heritage.

The “Guiding Principles” of nationwide organizations as well as the various other local San Antonio Chinese organizations are all similar …

  • Support and obey the Laws and Constitution of the United States
  • Fully enjoy and defend the Rights and Privileges of American Citizenship
  • Cultivate the mind and self-improvement through the exchange of knowledge
  • Effect a higher character among its members and observe and practice the fundamentals of brotherly love, charity, fellowship, fidelity and justice.

The members of these various organizations are mainly comprised of U.S. citizens of voting age. They promote and practice their guiding principles within a family focused atmosphere to champion civil and immigrant rights and community improvements while providing activities for members, family, and friends which promote and preserve Chinese ethnicity and diversity.

To stimulate interaction within their organizations and further develop San Antonio as a vibrant and diverse city the local groups sponsor various social gatherings, community events and educational programs which promote the Chinese culture and heritage through art, music, dance and other venues, These events also provide a forum for business networking and highlight and promote the contributions of Chinese Americans in the democratic process at the local, state and national levels.

San Antonio also has two Sister City relationships with Kaohsiung, Taiwan and Wuxi, China. The relationship between San Antonio and Kaohsiung was established in 1981 and was facilitated by then Mayor Henry Cisneros. After a 2010 delegation led by Mayor Julian Castro and Councilwoman Elisa Chan to the Shanghai World Expo, San Antonio signed Friendship City agreements with the cities of Suzhou and Wuxi, China. In 2012 the Friendship City of Wuxi became a Sister City to San Antonio.

Filipino Community

The migration of Filipinos in Texas was a result of the Spanish-American War. Following the acquisition of the Philippines by the United States from Spain, the US maintained a substantial number of servicemen in the Philippines. When the military rule ended in 1907, military officers employed a large number of Filipinos as servants. Many of the Filipinos followed the servicemen when they returned to the US. San Antonio became home to many Filipinos because of the military presence in the city. The climate in in Texas was a major reason for Filipinos settling in the state.

Many Filipinos joined the United States armed forced during WW II. In 1946, when the Philippines gained independence from the US, many Filipinos qualified to become US citizens because of their military service. After 1945, the US became a destination place to many Filipinos including physicians, engineers, nurses, and other professionals.

As of the 2010 census, the Filipino American community was the second largest Asian American group in the US with a population of about 3.4 million. It has been estimated that there were about 4,000 Filipinos in Texas in 1950. By 2000, the number increased to 75,226. Ten years later, there were about 137,700 Filipinos who have called Texas home. Houston has the largest population of Filipino-Americans in Texas.

In San Antonio, Filipino-Americans are represented in groups based on organizational mission, professional affiliation and trade, and social and civic objectives of their members. The major organized Filipino-American associations in San Antonio include: The Aguman

Capampangan of San Antonio (ACOSA), the Filipino-Americans in San Antonio, the Filipino Students’ Association of San Antonio, the Karilagan Philippine Cultural Group, Inc, the Organization of Filipinos in Texas (OFT), the Philippine Choral Ensemble of San Antonio, the Philippine Nurses Association of San Antonio (PNASA), the Philippines Women of America (PWA), among others.

Indian Community

The Indian population is steadily growing in Texas. Earlier, major concentration were in Houston and Dallas, the latest trend from census figures show that San Antonio is getting a fair share of new families moving in. This is primarily due to the fact that India provides skilled labor in technology, IT and medical fields. These sectors have a major presence in San Antonio so the migration rates to San Antonio are rising rapidly. Incidentally Indians have the highest rate of increase in comparison to any other ethnic group besides Hispanic.

  • 2010 Census: 8,733 (0.7 %) in San Antonio
  • 2000 Census: 3,378 (0.3 %) in San Antonio

That works out to 15.9% growth per year or 159% over 10 years.

In 2008 San Antonio and Chennai, India developed a sister city relationship helping each city to share their respective cultures as well as improve and build business relationships. San Antonio also celebrates Diwali SA, the only city sanctioned event of its kind in the nation drawing some 15,000+ people from all over the state of Texas. Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is one of the most celebrated Indian festivals which symbolizes the victory of good over evil.

Japanese Community

The Japanese community has deep roots in San Antonio from the Japanese Tea Garden to the Toyota plant. The Japanese Tea Garden was built in 1919 in Brackenridge Park as a place to share Japanese Tea culture. During World War II the park’s name was changed to the Chinese Tea Garden due to anti-Japanese sentiment during the war only to have it officially changed back to the Japanese Tea Garden or “Sunken Garden” by Mayor Henry Cisneros in 1985. Mayor Cisneros also helped establish the Sister City relationship with Kumamoto, Japan in 1987. This relationship has been an important avenue for cultural exchanges including the installation of the Japanese Gardens in the San Antonio Botanical Gardens in 1989. The largest economic partnership Japan and San Antonio have to date is the Toyota plant located on the city’s south side. The plant that builds the Toyota Tacoma and Tundra broke ground in 2003 and had its grand opening in 2006 with the début of the brand new Tundra. The total initial investment was 1.2 billion dollars resulting in the formation of 5,700 jobs for the citizens of San Antonio.

Korean Community

Koreans have a long history in San Antonio building to the Sister City relationship with Guanjgu, South Korea in 1981. This relationship has fostered many business and cultural exchanges. The Guangju Pavilion was built in 2010 in Denman Estate Park in San Antonio as a symbol of this bond between the two cities. At a cost of 1.2 million dollars the city of Guangju paid for half of the traditionally Korean constructed pavilion, modeled after the Guangju Democracy Bell in Guangju, South Korea. Another event Koreans in San Antonio have to share their rich culture is the Kimchi Festival held at UTSA (University of Texas San Antonio) which highlights one of the country’s most popular dishes. Many Koreans in San Antonio are also business owners making them an active member of the Cities economy by creating jobs and diversifying the market. one of these Korean owned businesses is OCI Solar who recently agreed to move their corporate headquarters from Atlanta, GA. to San Antonio through a deal with CPS. This move will create over 800 jobs in San Antonio. The Korean community is active in the civic process advocating for the issues that matter to them.

Pakistani Community

The Pakistani population is steadily growing in Texas. Earlier, major concentration were in Houston and Dallas, the latest trend from census figures show that San Antonio is getting a fair share of new families moving in primarily due to business opportunities and demand for professional jobs in San Antonio ,hence Pakistani migration rates to San Antonio are rising rapidly.

Like the terms “Asian American” or “South Asian American”, the term “Pakistani American” is also an umbrella label applying to a variety of views, values, lifestyles, and appearances. Although Pakistani Americans retain a strong ethnic identity, they are known to assimilate into American culture while at the same time keeping the culture of their ancestors. Pakistani Americans are known to assimilate more easily than many other immigrant groups because they have fewer language barriers (English is the official language of Pakistan and widely spoken in the country among professional classes), more educational credentials (immigrants are disproportionately well educated among Pakistanis), and come from a similarly diverse, relatively tolerant, and multi-ethnic society. Pakistani Americans are well represented in the fields of medicine, engineering, finance and information technology.

Part of the Community

The collective success of the Asian American community has already made an impact on San Antonio and cemented itself as a vital part of the fabric of the city, bringing a diversity of perspectives and values that have proved to bring success in business, education, and family. The Asian American Community continues to seek out opportunities to join with other organizations and the city at large to promote and grow the reach of this vibrant city for years to come.