Immigrants from Southeast Asia today own tens of thousands of hotel properties in the United States, many having overcome severe obstacles in order to do so. Close to one-half of all American motels are under the ownership of Indian Americans.
The Asian American Hotel Owners Association lists more than 16,000 members, and in fact is the largest hotel owners’ trade group in the world. Its membership supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and makes a vital contribution to the overall American economy.
Pawan Dhingra, a sociologist at Tufts University, even devoted an entire book to the subject, publishing Life behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream in 2012.
Despite recent economic achievements, Indian Americans have often faced severe patterns of discrimination. For example, the Immigration Act of 1924 was also known as the Asian Exclusion Act for its exclusion of Southeast Asian people, who were largely barred from entering the country. In 1965, the new Immigration and Nationality Act abolished restrictions based on national origin.