Chinese immigration to the U.S. began in the 19th century. They worked as laborers on the railroad and as miners, but their time in the U.S. was marred by racial discrimination. Even though U.S. industries were eager to employ this new and cheap labor, the ordinary white public were alarmed by what they called the "yellow peril."
Political and labor groups rallied against what they believed to be an "inferior race". Even church leaders argued that their land was "for whites only". The public reaction was so extreme that in 1882 the United States Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited immigration from China for the next ten years, as well as a law prohibiting Chinese men from marrying white women.
It was only in the 1940s, when the US and China became allies in the Second World War, that Chinese Americans won fairer treatment.