America has been the land of opportunity for many immigrants since before 1790. For many immigrants they risked everything and left behind everything they have ever known for a better shot at life, for themselves and their children. Currently in The United States there are 41 million immigrants, to this day people are leaving their homeland to come to the US to for more opportunity. Immigration has been a long journey and and over the four major waves of immigration that I will tell you about you will see the all changes that has happened, America wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for Immigration.Most scientists believe that human beings first came to America about 20,000 years ago. The first Americans were the ancestors of the many Native American cultures. Soon after a small amount of Vikings arrived about 500 years later the great European migration began. The first Europeans arrived in a place that was already home to indigenous Native Americans. Over time Native Americans formed into many distinct groups. In 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue and arrived in the Bahamas. While being in the Bahamas Christopher Columbus encountered a group of indigenous people called the Arawak. The Arawak people were curious and friendly to these European travelers. Although the Arawaks were good people, Columbus was greedy and mean he wanted everything for himself. He threatened the natives and used them as servants. The natives couldn’t do since they were no match compared to Columbus and his men. Columbus and his men had guns and weapons and the natives didn’t. “I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I please” – Christopher Columbus. The Native Americans were introduced to diseases such as smallpox, measles, and the plague. There may have been a population of 20 million Native Americans and majority and perhaps 95% were killed by old word disease that the europeans brought with them.The first successful colony in America was established in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia. In 1620 tens of thousands of British, German, and Dutch but mostly British puritans came to North America to escape religious freedom persecution or to search for better opportunity, or simply for new adventures. Population was so decimated by war and migration that only about 100,000 were left inside the territorial United States. Out west many Spaniards moved north from Mexico across the Rio Grande to settle in California, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. By the early 17th century thriving communities dotted the landscape, the British in New England and Virginia, the Dutch in New York and New Jersey, and the Swedes in Delaware. After pre 1790 things were changing, there were much more immigrants and much more people were coming to America. The First wave of immigration occurred from 1790- 1820. The population of America in the first wave was the Native Americans, Europeans, and slaves from the Caribbean and Africa. America grew quickly from an estimated population of 250,000 in 1700 to an estimated 2.5 million in 1775. The population grew to about 9.6 million in 1820. Approximately 1.2 million of those people were immigrants. The early immigrants were primarily Protestants from northwestern Europe. The first federal law requiring ships to keep records of immigration wasn’t passed until 1819. This made the first wave of immigrants “undocumented aliens.” There were many reasons for Immigration, Like Economic Opportunity, Slavery, Political Freedom, and Religious Freedom. The first wave of immigrants generally had an easier time being accepted as American for several reasons. Firstly, they tended to be all relatively be sharing the same religion which was Protestant Christianity. Secondly, it was understood that immigrants who spoke other languages must learn English and conform to Anglo-American cultural norms. Thirdly, as the rapidly expanding country needed labor the immigrants were hard workers that needed jobs. In 1790, it passed the first Naturalization Act, which stipulated that “…any alien, being a free white person, may be admitted to become a citizen of the United States…”. By 1806, the flow of immigration was reduced to a trickle as problems started between England and Napoleon’s France , disrupting the Atlantic shipping lanes. Congress was given the authority to ban the slave trade after 1808. The War of 1812 between the United States and Britain slowed immigration even further. Peace was beck in 1814. Congress responded with the Steerage Act of 1819, requiring ship captains to keep detailed passenger records and provide more humane conditions for those on board.The second wave of the United States immigration occurred from 1820-1880. The German, Irish, British, Canadian, African, Asian and European immigrants came to America. The largest group was the German with 3,000,000. Irish had 2,800,000 , Britain 2,000,000 , Austro Hungarian Empire 1,000,000 , Canada 750,000, China 230,000, and Africa 50,000. Most Irish immigrants from the 1840’s and 1850’s came to escape the famine back home. Immigrants from Asia and Europe came to America because they were heavily attracted to the California gold rush. In 1830 an average of 6,000 Immigrants were on the US totaling up to 1.5% of American society. An increase of 50,000 immigrants happened in 1832. Immigrants rose up to 480,000 in 1854. In the 19th century at around the 1880s 5.2 million immigrants arrived. By 1890 4% of Americans were born in foreign countries. People from different countries came but the first largest group were the Irish catholics. Men would mostly work on building the Erie Canal and railroads while Irish women worked as domestic servants. After the Irish, the Germans came after and they settled on farms and wanted to control the American brewing industry. Scandinavians from Sweden,Norway,and Denmark came after the civil war to work, on the small farms in the upper Midwest. By the 1880s over 100,00 Chinese immigrants came to America. They arrived to the west coast of the United States. Many of them worked on constructing the Transcontinental railroads while others were cooks, launderers or miners. There were many transportation improvements that brought people to America. The development of clipper ships and railroads speeded travel and lowered the cost of the fare to America. All of the War, famine, revolution, and industrialization brought many Western Europeans from their homelands in search of a chance for something better in America. The “American Dream” was the growing reputation of the USA. It was known as a safe haven for immigrants and a land of opportunity for those willing to work. After the Irish, the Germans came after and they settled on farms and wanted to control the American brewing industry. Scandinavians from Sweden,Norway,and Denmark came after the civil war to work, on the small farms in the upper Midwest. The civil war caused reduction in immigration and after the war more came with 5.2 million coming in the 1880s. Nativism was known for anti immigrants and favoring the once who were born in America. There was religion were american Protestants saw the pope as an antichrist and viewed Catholics as terrorists. The “Know-Nothings” were the most influential in the 19th century and they were mostly known for answering any question with “I know nothing”. They were defending Protestantism against Catholicism. The Yellow peril was against the Chinese because they saw them as threats and despised them because of their “foreign ways” and race. This led to riots and mob violence in the 1800s. The third wave of immigration occurred from 1880-1930. By the 1880s many people were coming to the US because steam power shortened the journey to America. Which caused immigrants from all over the world to come to America. People from the Middle East, the Mediterranean, southern and Eastern Europe, and down rom Canada. Immigrants from the East Coast would first go through Ellis island in New York. Families traveling to the US would often travel all together during this time, although young men often came first to find work. In 1882 the congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act restricting immigration from China. The immigrants on the West coast went through the Angel Island immigration station in the San Francisco Bay. For many that was the closest they got to the mainland. At this time America was providing a refuge for the Mexicans victimized by the revolution , Jews fleeing the pogroms Eastern Europe and Russia, and the Armenians escaping the massacres in Turkey. For millions New York provided a lot of opportunity. The population there was so diverse you could the whole world in a single neighborhood. In 1880, 87% of immigrants had been from Northwestern Europe, British Isles, Germany, and Scandinavia. In 1900 over 80% were from Southern and Eastern Europe ,Italy, Russia, Austro-Hungary. Between 1880 and 1930 over 27 million people entered the US. 12 million of them entered through Ellis island. After world I in 1914 Americans attitudes changed towards immigrants. Nationalism and suspicion of foreigners were on the rise, and immigrants loyalties were often called into question. Through the early 1920s, a series of laws were passed to limit the flow of immigrants.The population of the US increased from 63 million in 1890 to 106 million in 1920. This is when immigration hit its peak. 1890 was when an annual average of 580,000 immigrants arrived on American shores, and 1907 set a record of 1.3 million newcomers in a single year. Most entered from Ellis Island, which served as the main port of entry for American immigration from 1898 to 1924. Push Factors drove Southern and Eastern Europeans to leave their native countries. Another push factor were the high population growth in Southern and Eastern Europe, Lack of jobs and food, Scarcity of available farmland, Mechanization of agriculture which pushed peasants off the land, and Religious persecution of Russian Jews, who fled their villages after pogroms. A pull factor was the Democracy, Freedom of religion, Available land, Other forms of economic opportunity, and Booming industries like steel and railroads advertised for workers in Hungary and Poland. These new immigrants helped build new railroads and took jobs in steel mills. By the late 19th century, regularly scheduled steamships replaced sailing ships, cutting what had been a 3-month voyage across the Atlantic to a mere 2 weeks. The poor immigrants traveled in the 3rd class or steerage, the open area below decks with no private cabin or bed. There, they slept on rough metal bunks and often got seasick. During the day, passengers crowded the deck to breathe fresh air, away from the foul smells of steerage. While First and Second Class passengers disembarked at Hudson River piers directly into New York City, the Third Class passengers in steerage had to be processed at Ellis Island, the new federal immigrant processing center. At Ellis Island they waited in long lines holding on to their few belongings that they had , and their papers that proved they were entitled to gain admittance to the land of liberty. Most immigrants spent a few hours there showing their papers and passing through a barrage of medical and psychological tests to prove they were worthy. They were put through test to make sure they had no illiterates, no anarchists, no contagious diseases. About 20% of Ellis Island immigrants were detained for some period on the island. Usually for a medical condition and released in less than 2 weeks. November 12, 1254 Ellis Island was officially closed. Most 3rd wave immigrants settled in poor urban neighborhoods with the cheapest housing, usually among others of their own ethnic group like “Little Italy and “Little Poland”‘. They set up their own businesses, churches and restaurants. European economic collapse after WWI led to another surge in immigration. During this time, the US economy sank into a deep depression, making foreigners seem a threat to US workers jobs. A revived Ku Klux Klan grew all over the country opposing not only blacks but Catholics and Jews as well. The Klan demanded strict new restrictions on immigration. In 1921, the Republican congress passed the first of a series of new restrictions on immigration. The 1921 Immigration Quota Act capped annual immigration at 350,000 and set National Origins Quotas to limit each country’s total. These National Origins Quotas sounded fair on the surface, but were written to restrict southern and eastern Europeans. Quotas were based on 2% of the 1890 population of each nationality in the US. As there were hardly any Italians or Poles in the US in 1890, their quotas were miniscule. The law also changed the racial complexion of the country, banning all immigrants from Asia, while exempting western-hemisphere immigrants from any quotas. So Canadians and Mexicans freely came into the US, while Asians, the majority of humans on the planet, were completely barred. These laws caused a dramatic decline in immigration to America. 22.3 million people immigrated to America between 1891 and 1930, only 4.1 million immigrated between 1930 and 1960. Southern and Eastern European immigration declined by nearly 90% (87.3%). The foreign-born represented 15% of the population in 1930, but only 4.7% in 1960. The middle of the 2oth century became the low tide of American immigration history.From 1930 and 1960, there were a mere 4 million arrivals, fewer immigrants than had come during the decade of the 1920s alone. The amount of the foreign born were dramatically shrinking to about 5% . This was the “low tide” of immigration. Ellis Island was closed down and abandoned in 1954. Millions around the world wanted to immigrate to America, but were kept out by the quota system, while fewer chose to emigrate from the western European countries that were eligible due to rising standards of living after WWII.The fourth wave of US immigration takes place from 1965-2000’s which is in the present. During this phase the effects of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 were immediate and significant to the US. Asian immigration quadrupled. From 1965- 2000 people from Mexico, The Philippines, Korea, Dominican Republic, India, Cuba, Vietnam, and Canada were coming to the US. Mexico 4,300,000 immigrants, The Philippines 1,400,000 immigrants , Korea 760,000 immigrants, Dominican Republic 750,000 immigrants, India 740,000 immigrants, Cuba 720,000 immigrants, Vietnam 700,000 immigrants, and Canada 650,000 immigrants. During this time more women than men entered the country. They were reuniting with their families, joining their GI husbands, taking part in the post war economic boom. The current wave of immigration is by far the largest in American history. Over 30 million legal immigrants have entered over the last four decades. Primarily from Latin America and Asia. Throughout this period, in a policy that continues to this day, the government has given preferences to professionals like doctors, nurses, scientists, and hi tech specialists, creating what is often called the “Brain Drain.” Many of these skilled workers are women, who are often the first link in a chain of migration, working and saving enough money to bring family members to the US. Most immigrants from this wave ended up in California, in Imperial Valley to Silicon Valley. Receiving most of the immigrants from the Asian mainland and the Philippines, Mexico, and Central America. A difference between the Fourth Wave and other waves of immigration is that there is a large group of illegal or undocumented immigrants. Many of those immigrants come over legally on temporary visas, but stay after the visas expire. Others walk in without visas, mostly over the Mexican border. The intense poverty of Third World countries caused a lot of the immigration. Another reason for the large amount of immigration was that traveling was much easier instead or boats there were aircrafts.In the 1960s, America finally confronted the issue of race and challenged its long accepted system of racial segregation. President Lyndon Johnson signed the Immigration and Naturalization Act on October 3, 1965. The Naturalization Act of 1790 restricted citizenship to “any alien, being a free white person” who had been in the U.S. for two years”. America began opening its doors to immigrants again the introduction of jet aircraft which could cross oceans in a few hours greatly decreased the cost and difficulty of travel.As the number of illegal immigrants swelled to an estimated 5 million in 1986, a new Immigration Reform and Control Act the IRCA was passed to deal with the problem. It made fines of up to $10,000 on employers for every illegal immigrant they employed. The IRCA succeeded in legalizing over two million immigrants but failed in its other goals. Due to easily available fake IDs and inadequate funding for the Immigration and Naturalization Service to inspect workplaces, the IRCA did not stop employers from hiring illegals, they could hire more cheaply than US citizens or legal immigrants. The number of illegal immigrants has grown greatly in the last 20 years to an estimated 11 million people. In the 2000s, as in past eras, high US unemployment combined with a rising number of immigrants produced a nativist anti immigrant backlash. Republican led Congress opted to increase border security, constructing a multibillion dollar fence on the Mexican border and doubling the size of the border patrol. They also vastly increased the number of immigration agents. As a result the Bush and Obama administrations vastly increased deportations and cracked down on employers who hire illegal immigrants. The Fourth Wave immigrants have primarily settled in seven states. California, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey have over 70% of the immigrant population. The new immigrants have revitalized many of America’s cities, moving into depressed neighborhoods and made them thrive again. The Fourth Wave brought an astounding new ethnic and religious diversity. Now the US has more Muslims and an increasing number of Buddhists. Mexican, Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern restaurants have sprung up all over. Immigration is what has made America what it is. Immigrants have shaped the culture of America. America is known for the diversity and we wouldn’t have that if it wasn’t for the brave immigrants that came to America without knowing what’s gonna happen next. In the first wave immigrants has an easier time for being accepted. It only got harder throughout each wave. In the second wave many immigrants were coming because of hardships in their homelands , they came to work. In the third wave many immigrants were coming because technology was evolving and traveling was much easier but in the third wave a lot of twist groups like the KKK were scrounged than ever. The fourth wave is still occurring and it is the largest group of immigration in history. The fourth wave of immigration is still happening and it’s getting harder. Our President is not allowing many immigrants and that means less are getting to live the “American dream”. Like in the third wave a lot of racism is still happening and it’s more alive than ever and a lot of it is coming from our President. I want to see a change, I believe that every single person derives a chance at living there best life. Immigrants are the reason we have a lot of what we have today, we should be thankful towards them and not treat them as criminals and job stealers.
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