American Immigration History

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American Immigration History

American immigration history can be viewed in four epochs: the colonial period, the mid-19th century, the start of the 20th century, and post-1965. Each period brought distinct national groups, races and ethnicities to the United States. During the 17th century, approximately 175,000 Englishmen migrated to Colonial America.[11] Over half of all European immigrants to Colonial America during the 17th and 18th centuries arrived as indentured servants.[12] The mid-19th century saw mainly an influx from northern Europe; the early 20th-century mainly from Southern and Eastern Europe; post-1965 mostly from Latin America and Asia. Historians estimate that fewer than one million immigrants—perhaps as few as 400,000—crossed the Atlantic during the 17th and 18th centuries.[13] The 1790 Act limited naturalization to “free white persons”; it was expanded to include blacks in the 1860s and Asians in the 1950s.[14] In the early years of the United States, immigration was fewer than 8,000 people a year,[15] including French refugees from the slave revolt in Haiti. After 1820, immigration gradually increased. From 1836 to 1914, over 30 million Europeans migrated to the United States.[16]

The death rate on these transatlantic voyages was high, during which one in seven travelers died.[17] In 1875, the nation passed its first immigration law, the Page Act of 1875.[18] The peak year of European immigration was in 1907, when 1,285,349 persons entered the country.[19] By 1910, 13.5 million immigrants were living in the United States.[20] In 1921, the Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act, followed by the Immigration Act of 1924. The 1924 Act was aimed at further restricting the Southern and Eastern Europeans, especially Jews, Italians, and Slavs, who had begun to enter the country in large numbers beginning in the 1890s.[21] Most of the European refugees fleeing the Nazis and World War II were barred from coming to the United States.[22] Immigration patterns of the 1930s were dominated by the Great Depression, which hit the U.S. hard and lasted over ten years there. In the final prosperous year, 1929, there were 279,678 immigrants recorded,[23] but in 1933, only 23,068 came to the U.S.[13] In the early 1930s, more people emigrated from the United States than to it.[24] The U.S. government sponsored a Mexican Repatriation program which was intended to encourage people to voluntarily move to Mexico, but thousands were deported against their will.[25] Altogether about 400,000 Mexicans were repatriated.[26] In the post-war era, the Justice Department launched Operation Wetback, under which 1,075,168 Mexicans were deported in 1954.[27] First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same…. Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset….

Contrary to the charges in some quarters, [the bill] will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and deprived nations of Africa and Asia…. In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think. — Ted Kennedy, chief Senate sponsor of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.[28] The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, also known as the Hart-Cellar Act, abolished the system of national-origin quotas. By equalizing immigration policies, the act resulted in new immigration from non-European nations, which changed the ethnic make-up of the United States.[29] While European immigrants accounted for nearly 60% of the total foreign population in 1970, they accounted for only 15% in 2000.[30] Immigration doubled between 1965 and 1970, and again between 1970 and 1990.[31] In 1990, George H. W. Bush signed the Immigration Act of 1990,[32] which increased legal immigration to the United States by 40%.[33] Appointed by Bill Clinton,[34] the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform recommended reducing legal immigration from about 800,000 people per year to approximately 550,000.[35]

While an influx of new residents from different cultures presents some challenges, “the United States has always been energized by its immigrant populations,” said President Bill Clinton in 1998. “America has constantly drawn strength and spirit from wave after wave of immigrants […] They have proved to be the most restless, the most adventurous, the most innovative, the most industrious of people.”[36] An analysis of census data found that nearly eight million immigrants entered the United States from 2000 to 2005, more than in any other five-year period in the nation’s history; 3.7 million of them entered without papers.[37][38] Since 1986 Congress has passed seven amnesties for undocumented immigrants.[39] In 1986 president Ronald Reagan signed immigration reform that gave amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants in the country.[40] Hispanic immigrants were among the first victims of the late-2000s recession,[41] but since the recession’s end in June 2009,
immigrants posted a net gain of 656,000 jobs.[42] Over 1 million immigrants were granted legal residence in 2011. ————————————————-

Contemporary immigration
Until the 1930s most legal immigrants were male. By the 1990s women accounted for just over half of all legal immigrants.[46]Contemporary immigrants tend to be younger than the native population of the United States, with people between the ages of 15 and 34 substantially overrepresented.[47] Immigrants are also more likely to be married and less likely to be divorced than native-born Americans of the same age.[48] Immigrants are likely to move to and live in areas populated by people with similar backgrounds. This phenomenon has held true throughout the history of immigration to the United States.[49] Seven out of ten immigrants surveyed by Public Agenda in 2009 said they intended to make the U.S. their permanent home, and 71% said if they could do it over again they would still come to the US. In the same study, 76% of immigrants say the government has become stricter on enforcing immigration laws since the September 11, 2001 attacks (“9/11”), and 24% report that they personally have experienced some or a great deal of discrimination.[50] Public attitudes about immigration in the U.S. were heavily influenced in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

After the attacks, 52% of Americans believed that immigration was a good thing overall for the U.S., down from 62% the year before, according to a 2009 Gallup poll.[51] A 2008 Public Agenda survey found that half of Americans said tighter controls on immigration would do “a great deal” to enhance U.S. national security.[52] Harvard political scientist and historian Samuel P. Huntington argued in Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity that a potential future consequence of continuing massive immigration from Latin America, especially Mexico, might lead to the bifurcation of the United States. The population of illegal Mexican immigrants in the US fell from approximately 7 million in 2007 to 6.1 million in 2011 [53] Commentators link the reversal of the immigration trend to the economic downturn that started in 2008 and which meant fewer available jobs, and to the introduction of tough immigration laws in many states.[54][55][56][57] According to the Pew Hispanic Center the total
number of Mexican born persons had stagnated in 2010, and tended toward going into negative figures.[58] More than 80 cities in the United States,[59] including Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego,San Jose, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Detroit, Jersey City, Minneapolis, Miami, Denver, Baltimore, Seattle,Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine, have sanctuary policies, which vary locally.[60]

Effects of immigration
The Census Bureau estimates the US population will grow from 281 million in 2000 to 397 million in 2050 with immigration, but only to 328 million with no immigration.[77] A new report from the Pew Research Center projects that by 2050, non-Hispanic whites will account for 47% of the population, down from the 2005 figure of 67%.[78] Non-Hispanic whites made up 85% of the population in 1960.[79] It also foresees the Hispanic population rising from 14% in 2005 to 29% by 2050.[80] The Asian population is expected to more than triple by 2050. Overall, the population of the United States is due to rise from 296 million in 2005 to 438 million in 2050, with 82% of the increase from immigrants.[81] In 35 of the country’s 50 largest cities, non-Hispanic whites were at the last census or are predicted to be in the minority.[82] In California, non-Hispanic whites slipped from 80% of the state’s population in 1970 to 42.3% in 2008.[83][84] Immigrant segregation declined in the first half of the century, but has been rising over the past few decades.

This has caused questioning of the correctness of describing the United States as a melting pot. One explanation is that groups with lower socioeconomic status concentrate in more densely populated area that have access to public transit while groups with higher socioeconomic status move to suburban areas. Another is that some recent immigrant groups are more culturally and linguistically different than earlier group and prefer to live together due to factors such as communication costs.[85] Another explanation for increased segregation is white flight.[86]

“The lesson of these 236 years is clear – immigration makes America stronger.
Immigration makes us more prosperous. And immigration positions America to lead in the 21st century.” President Obama, July 4, 2012

A stronger GDP means a better standard of living for Americans.Immigrants start small businesses.Immigrant-owned businesses create jobs for American workers.Immigrants boost demand for local consumer goods. More than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or a child of immigrants. According to thePartnership for a New American Economy these companies employ more than 10 million people worldwide and generate annual revenue of $4.2 trillion. Immigrants innovate as scientists and engineers.Immigrants develop cutting-edge technologies and companies.Immigrant scientist and engineers positively impact wages.Fixing our broken immigration system is critical to bilateral trade and U.S. exports. Fixing our broken immigration system will help increase international travel and tourism to America.

merica’s immigration system is broken. Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living in the shadows. Neither is good for the economy or the country. Together we can build a fair, effective and common sense immigration system that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. The President’s plan builds a smart, effective immigration system that continues efforts to secure our borders and cracks down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants. It’s a plan that requires anyone who’s undocumented to get right with the law by paying their taxes and a penalty, learning English, and undergoing background checks before they can be eligible to earn citizenship. It requires every business and every worker to play by the same set of rules. The Know Nothing movement was an American political movement that operated on a national basis during the mid 1850s.

It promised to purify American politics by limiting or ending the influence of Irish Catholics and other immigrants, thus reflecting nativismand anti-Catholic sentiment. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholicimmigrants, whom they saw as hostile to republican values and controlled by the pope in Rome. Mainly active from 1854 to 1856, it strove to curb immigration and naturalization, but met with
little success. Membership was limited to Protestant males. There were few prominent leaders, and the largely middle-class membership fragmented over the issue of slavery. The most prominent leaders were ex-President Millard Fillmore (the party’s presidential nominee in 1856), Massachusetts Congressman Nathaniel P. Banks,[1] and former congressman Lewis C. Levin. Social

Irish immigration was opposed in the 1850s by the nativist Know Nothing movement, originating in New York in 1843. It was engendered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by Irish Catholic immigrants. In 1891, a lynch mob stormed a local jail and hanged several Italians following the acquittal of several Sicilian immigrants alleged to be involved in the murder of New Orleans police chief David Hennessy. The Congress passed the Emergency Quota Act in 1921, followed by the Immigration Act of 1924. The Immigration Act of 1924 was aimed at limiting immigration overall, and making sure that the nationalities of new arrivals matched the overall national profile. After the September 11 attacks, many Americans entertained doubts and suspicions about people apparently of Middle-Eastern origins.[citation needed] NPR in 2010 fired a prominent black commentator, Juan Williams, when he talked publicly about his fears on seeing people dressed like Muslims on airplanes.[127]

Racist thinking among and between minority groups does occur;[128][129] examples of this are conflicts between blacks and Korean immigrants,[130] notably in the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, and between African Americans and non-white Latino immigrants.[131][132] There has been a long running racial tension between African American and Mexicanprison gangs, as well as significant riots in California prisons where they have targeted each other, for ethnic reasons.[133][134] There have been reports of racially motivated attacks against African Americans who have moved into neighborhoods occupied mostly by people of Mexican origin, and vice versa.[135][136] There has also been an increase in violence between non-Hispanic Anglo Americans and Latino immigrants, and between African immigrants and African Americans.[137] A 2007 study on assimilation found that Mexican immigrants are less fluent in English than both non-Mexican Hispanic immigrants and other immigrants. While English fluency increases with time stayed in the United States,
although further improvements after the first decade are limited, Mexicans never catch up with non-Mexican Hispanic who never catch up with non-Hispanics. The study also writes that “Even among immigrants who came to the United States before they were five years old and whose entire schooling was in the United States, those Mexican born have average education levels of 11.7 years, whereas those from other countries have average levels of education of 14.1 years.” Unlike other immigrants, Mexicans have a tendency to live in communities with many other Mexicans which decreases incentives for assimilation. Correcting for this removes about half the fluency difference between Mexicans and other immigrants.[138] Religious diversity

Immigration from South Asia and elsewhere has contributed to enlarging the religious composition of the United States. Islam in the United States is growing mainly due to immigration. Hinduism in the United States, Buddhism in the United States, and Sikhism in the United States are other examples.[139] Since 1992, an estimated 1.7 million Muslims, approximately 1 million Hindus, and approximately 1 million Buddhists have immigrated legally to the United States.

Os Imigrantes e as Religiões

A maior religião dos EUA é o cristianismo, cerca de 78,4% da população é cristã. Tradicionalmente a maioria dos americanos eram majoritariamente protestantes, mas pela primeira vez em 2011 o grupo atingiu porcetagem menor que metade da população. Ainda assim os americanos continuam sendo de maioria protestante somando 48% ou ainda ma maioria crentes 51% somando afiliações mórmons. O cristianismo foi introduzidos durante o período da colonização europeia. O cristianismo é uma das religiões que mais cresce nos EUA. Isto se deve, entre outros fatores, pelo elevado número de imigrantes latino-americanos e filipinos que o país recebe a cada ano. A região com a maior concentração de católicos é o Nordeste, que apesar de ter sido colonizada por puritanos, recebeu grande número de imigrantes católicos europeus (principalmente alemães, irlandeses e italianos) a partir da segunda metade do século XIX. O Norte, área de forte influência da Igreja Batista, por outro lado, é a região com a menor porcentagem de católicos. Os Ingleses, Alemães, Escoceses, Holandeses, Noruegueses entre outros do norte europeu introduziram o Protestantismo, enquanto os franceses, espanhóis e irlandeses trouxeram o Catolicismo.

Apesar de seu status de religião mais difundida e mais influente nos EUA, o Cristianismo está num declínio relativo contínuo. Quando o número absoluto de cristãos foi levantado de 1990 a 2001, a porcentagem cristã da população caiu de 88.3% para 79.6%. O Judaísmo é a quarta maior preferência religiosa nos EUA. Os judeus atuais estão presentes nos EUA desde o século XVII, embora a imigração em grande escala não tenha ocorrido até o século XIX, em maior parte por causa das perseguições na Europa Oriental. O CIA Fact Book estima que 1% dos americanos pertencem a esse grupo. Aproximadamente 25% dessa população vive em Nova York. O Budismo entrou nos EUA durante o século XIX com a chegada dos primeiros imigrantes da Ásia Oriental. O primeiro templo budista foi estabelecido em San Francisco em 1853 pelos chineses-americanos.

Ao longo do século XIX, missionários budistas do Japão vieram aos EUA. Simultaneamente a estes processos, certos intelectuais dos EUA ficaram interessados pelo budismo. O século XX foi caracterizado por uma continuação das tendências do século XIX. A segunda metade, pelo contraste, viu uma emergência de correntes principais do movimento budista que tornou-se uma massa e um fenômeno religioso social. Estimativas do número de budistas nos Estados Unidos variam de 0.5% a 0.9%. No que diz respeito a história do Islã nos EUA, ainda que muito pequena, a população muçulmana aumentou extremamente nos últimos cem anos. Boa parte do crescimento foi por causa da imigração e pela conversão. Até um terço dos muçulmanos americanos são africanos que se converteram ao Islã durante os últimos setenta anos.

A imigração muçulmana aumentou em 2005, assim como mais pessoas de países islâmicos se tornaram residentes legais permanentes nos EUA do que qualquer ano, nas duas décadas anteriores. A estimativa de muçulmanos nos EUA é de 2,35 milhões (0,8% do total da população). A primeira vez que o Hinduísmo entrou nos Estados Unidos não está claramente identificado. No entanto, grandes grupos de hindus emigraram da Índia e de outros países asiáticos desde o Ato pela Imigração e Nacionalidade de 1965. Durante as décadas de 1960 e 1970, o fascínio pelo Hinduísmo contribuiu para o pensamento New Age. Atualmente, as estimativas de hindus nos Estados Unidos sugerem um número de quase 800.000 pessoas, ou cerca de 0.4% do total da população. A religião hindu está em
crescimento nos Estados Unidos, não só graças a imigração, mas também devido a conversão de muitos ocidentais. Place of birth for the foreign-born population in the United States Top ten countries| 2010| 2000| 1990|

Mexico| 11,711,103| 9,177,487| 4,298,014|
China| 2,166,526| 1,518,652| 921,070|
India| 1,780,322| 1,022,552| 450,406|
Philippines| 1,777,588| 1,369,070| 912,674|
Vietnam| 1,240,542| 988,174| 543,262|
El Salvador| 1,214,049| 817,336| 465,433|
Cuba| 1,104,679| 872,716| 736,971|
South Korea| 1,100,422| 864,125| 568,397|
Dominican Republic| 879,187| 687,677| 347,858|
Guatemala| 830,824| 480,665| 225,739|
All of Latin America| 21,224,087| 16,086,974| 8,407,837| All Immigrants| 39,955,854| 31,107,889| 19,767,316|


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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 21 March 2016

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