The Harsh History of Immigration

Through many historic years, the immigrant experience has been shaped by their perceptions by nativist, only to be seen as a threat. Nativism is a political ideology where you are protecting the interests of native-born; protecting their beliefs from immigrants. A variety of immigrants who come into this country to build a better life aren’t getting the possibility to go by this because they are in a predicament in which they are seen differently and are treated poorly. The immigrants that come to America have an experience that ends up being disappointing because these immigrants are unknown and Americans didn’t know their intentions so they treat them differently.

Foreign borns think the United States is the land of opportunities but that thought changes as soon as they step foot into the US because at first or throughout their whole time living here it isn’t an equitable balance between American citizens and immigrants, some immigrants were citizens but still were not treated equally.

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Some immigrant groups that have been seen as a threat due to their race and/or religion are the Japanese-Americans, Chinese, and Irish. Other people shouldn’t be the ones to shape the experience for immigrants. To come to America it should be a fair place and accepting those who want to have an outstanding future just like any of us with open arms.

Back then in 1775 United States fought a war that changed history forever. The United States, that was once the 13 colonies became independent after fighting the British Empire, this is when the US started growing.

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An example of growth was the growth of nativist, nativism happened as an outburst in response to the Irish Catholic immigration. Nativism protects the beliefs of the citizens born in America. The United States was a country where there was more land than people, immigration has always been something that has been common since the first countering of America. People have migrated over here based on labor and the many opportunities held on this land, “The lure of prosperity brought record numbers of immigrants to the United States” (Whitman, 2000). If you ask an immigrant why they came to America most likely they’ll tell you it’s because they wanted a better life and America is where you will get a better life because there are many opportunities that aren’t in the lands that they’ve migrated from. The first people who were in America wouldn’t want any newcomers because they thought these immigrants were trying to take over or were dangerous in many ways because they were new and nobody knew nothing of them. No matter how many times immigrants tried to show that they were innocent, the citizens of America would continue to view them in suspect and were worried about what they might do.

Immigrants were cast out by the nativist even if they migrated to the US for a purpose not to destroy the country in any way, shape, or form. In the 1800s there was a point in time where the Chinese and the British Empire were in a conflict called the Opium Wars. These wars were established because of unequal treaties between the two. Eventually, it started to affect those who weren’t part of it by the crop failure and how unsafe it was in China. The Chinese started to migrate towards America where it would be more safe, no wars taking place or dangerous weapons affecting the lives of the innocent. Once they came to America, Chinese wanted to get jobs in order to be wealthy and survive which caused them to go out and search for jobs. Most jobs were already taken by those who were already here such as the US citizens. To survive in this world you have to do labor work because you need to provide for your family and/ or yourself. Chinese immigrants were able to get jobs because railroad companies needed workers to do hazardous work to build railroads. Chinese were willing to be laborers, in fact, it was the Central Pacific who hired them because they couldn’t get any other laborers who were willing to do this type of job. Doing the dangerous work of building railroads many Chinese lives were at risk but they continued to work and some workers ended up dying. The railroad companies wouldn’t respect the Chinese workers although they were doing the work for them because of their race. The Central Pacific would help pay to lodge, working tools, even food for the white workers but they didn’t offer to pay these things for the Chinese Workers. A senior editor who speaks on geography and history wrote an article on the Opium Wars and said “Even though Chinese workers worked longer hours than workers of European descent, the Central Pacific paid them the same wage or less. Additionally, Chinese workers were required to pay for their food, lodging, and tools to work, which the railroad companies provided to white workers at no cost” (3). The Central Pacific offers to pay these things for caucasian workers but not for the Chinese workers. The race of the Chinese are changing their work experience compared the white workers, the Chinese workers aren’t getting the same respect and being thought of like the white workers. Not only do they have to pay for their own things but they also get paid less than white people which makes it even harder for them because they are getting money but continuously wasting it for the materials needed for this same job.

Furthermore the Chinese would be seen as invaders, they would come to America and take over the American citizens labor according to the pioneer laundry workers assembly in 1878. Chinese would have the skills that are needed for these certain factories or companies and they would get hired quickly. The thought of the immigrants taking the jobs of the US citizens wasn’t a good start coming into a new country because that will change many of the Americans perspectives. The laundry workers said to the world, “Every [Chinese man] doing this work takes BREAD from the mouths of OUR WOMEN”(Stanford History Education Group, 3). Most women were the ones who worked at the pioneer laundry until the Chinese came, this flyer caused a feud between the Chinese and Americans. The workers persuaded other workers in the US besides in laundries that the Chinese would be taking over their jobs which lead them to accuse the Chinese are a threat to the American society. The workers from the laundry proceed to say in this flier “CHINAMAN takes labor from our country without the returning prosperity to our land the way the labor of our labor does to our glorious country” ( Stanford History Education Group, 3). These pioneer workers claim that the US citizens are the only one who can do glorious things to our country. No Chinese man or any man/women can come and do the labor without giving back which started off their experience horrible and changed how they were viewed because they were taking but not giving back.

Not only was race an impact on how immigrants were treated but so was religion. Nativist has including their opinions towards the religion of the Irish, the nativist were trying to protect the Americans beliefs since Irish didn’t believe in the same things. The US wanted things to stay the same and be one religion. Irish beliefs were different from the US, the Irish were Catholics who followed the Roman Catholic church and the US were Protestant Christians, they followed the Western Christian churches. Christianity is a monotheistic religion that believes Jesus is the son of God, Christians believe that Jesus is the savior. In the past times, the United States were only Christians, between the years 1820 and 1975 Irish immigrants migrated to America. Americans referred that the Irish weren’t respecting the beliefs of Americans. Americans believed that the Irish were trying to change the minds of others, this was called cultural diffusion. Irish could come to our country and spread the word to everyone how and what it took to be a Catholic. The Americans did not want any change at all.

On July 22, 1854, appeared an article, The Know-Nothing and American crusader. The article continually announces how Catholics hate everything the United States goes by. The article begins by saying “THINGS WHICH THE ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND ALL TRUE ROMAN CATHOLICS HATE” this indicates what the article will be about and what the article is trying to claim. This starting sentence or title will interact with the readers, the Americans in this case. The message of this writer will be heard. The article proceeds to say “they HATE the bible, and will blot it out of existence if they could!” and “ They HATE all the rulers that do not swear allegiance to the Pope of Rome” (Uncle Sam, 6-8). The argument towards Irish immigrants was relentless, in some cases, it may seem that the actions of the Irish could have come across as disrespecting the beliefs of Americans but the reason the Irish came to America was for safety reasons due to the potato famine not to disobey the country. Americans viewed the Irish immigrants as a threat because they were different. The Religion of the Irish caused them to be treated poorly, bashed, and weren’t able to get jobs. Companies needed workers but they specifically put on their flyers “no Irish need apply”, this was unfair for the Irish because they did nothing but believe in different things compared to the US.

The Irish were treated differently but they also ended up in fueds started by Nativists. In the 1830s there was a well-known churchman named Rev. Lyman Beecher and he told the people in the nation that soon there will be plotting and this plotting would be the flood in the US with Catholic descents, which were the Irish immigrants. In an article written by Peter Schrag, he states, “issued dark warnings that the Vatican was plotting to flood the country with Catholic immigrants and take over the American West” (Schrag, 2). Beecher had a feeling that Catholic immigrants specifically the Irish will take over America. By Beecher telling the Americans that there will be a flooding of Catholics, they will now be suspicious over the immigrants coming into the US. The Nativists didn’t want to allow the Irish to spread their religion all over the US so they went into action. Schrag continues and says, “A nativist mob in Boston broke into and torched an Ursuline Sisters’ convent and school. In the years following, anti-Irish, anti-Catholics riots occurred in Lawrence, Mass., Baltimore, New York City, and Philadelphia, where the most vicious violence..” (Schrag, 2). Over the religion of Irish, it has caused them to be in a dangerous position and can possibly end up being killed. Nativist are the ones who triggered the Irish to fight back and if they didn’t do this then there wouldn’t have been tension between the two. The nativist in the United States has shaped the experience for the Irish immigrants because now the Irish could end up being dead and not pursue their dreams at an opportunity and being free.

Some people may argue that immigrant groups have it all, they get everything handed to them very easily. In the mind of the nativist and US citizens, immigrants didn’t go through complications getting jobs and becoming a citizen. The American society thought that it was a good shot for them and the immigrants coming into the United States were treated perfectly fine and were well respected. There were multiple quotes written on immigrants and one mentioned: “any immigrant reform proposal must first guarantee that our immigration laws are enforced both at the border and within the United States” (2). This states that when immigrants do come to the border the laws are not told to them right away. Coming to the United States is easy and the government makes it easy for them to know their place in the US. If immigrants can get easy access into the US then they can continue to do more things, for instance getting jobs, buying homes, and getting citizenship. An article written by David Bier talks about how the Founders of America support immigration in multiple ways. He goes to say “The constitution protected a society of immigrants and citizens living side-by-side. While giving the right of ‘life, liberty, and property’ for ‘any person’ not just any citizen” (Bier, 1). Even if immigrants still hadn’t become citizens they were still protected under the law if they were in America. Immigrants were treated very similarly to an American citizen, for immigrants that was a great start because if they ran into problems such as owning any land they can have protected rights against anyone. Americans think that immigrants don’t quite go through a process of becoming an American they simply have to come and will get the help needed or can just move on and fit in themselves without being discriminated or talked bad on.

Although it was easy to come into the US immigrants were still being treated less than the native borns. In addition, race continues to affect immigrants as a whole, it changes the way they are brought upon the reality of being an immigrant and migrating to a country that isn’t presentable as they say it is. No matter if the US government helps immigrants out the nativist in this country continue to think of them as less than what they are. In 1941 President Roosevelt wanted the State Department to investigate the loyalty of the Japanese Americans. This was called The Munson Report because the man who carried this out was Curtis B. Munson, he was a representative of the State Department. The reason president Roosevelt wanted to investigate the loyalty of the Japanese-Americans because United States allies were at war with the Japanese. These Japanese Americans were located on the west coast, California, Based on that fact they were seen as dangerous people and saboteurs. The report states that there will be no uprising of Japanese and that these Japanese-Americans will not get near anything if it is protected by plenty of guards. Munson’s report stated, “the Japanese are hampered as saboteurs because of their easily recognized physical appearance” (25). Munson was informing president Roosevelt that he will get on it( the investigation), he will check the loyalty of these immigrants. It would be easy for Munson to find the Japanese-Americans because they were easy to find just by looking at them. Although these Japanese have been born in the United States the US citizens were still suspicious over them cause of the conflict that was already presented. The Japanese were socially cast out because they were easily recognized and told out, being in a country in which others aren’t like you, who are against you, you are now viewed as their enemy.

Nativist have brought their opinion into this issue, the president including the government of the US thought that the country was in danger due to their allies fighting in wars. At any time given the enemies in this case the Japanese, could come to the US and cause destruction. The Japanese were innocent but yet the president and government questioned their loyalty to fully know if they were going to turn their backs on the US. Most Japanese didn’t even work near American sources, as stated in the same report “the Japanese here is almost exclusively a farmer, fishermen or small businessmen. He has no entree to plants or intricate machinery.” Curtis B. Munson wouldn’t have said this if it wasn’t true, these Japanese have already been living here but are still seen as harmful enough to investigate them. If they wanted to do something or harm anyone Japanese would already done so. The experience for the Japanese-Americans has been changed because now they are in a position of being threatening to the country.

With the information given it is concluded that historically, immigrants have been perceived as a threat due to their race and religion. The immigrant experience has been shaped by their perception by nativist that they are a threat. Whether these immigrants are a different race or believe in a different religion it will affect how they are viewed and how immigrants are viewed will change their experience to either a good route or a bad one. Mainly the immigrant experiences will be bad because they are being judged based on how different they are. It can be shaped in many ways based on how others form it because the government has a say in many things and if American citizens support them they will continue to support the government and their perceptions which causes Americans to act out and not look at immigrants as equal to them.

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The Harsh History of Immigration. (2021, Oct 12). Retrieved from

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