The history of immigration is important in understanding how the different ethnic groups in America relate. However, immigration has been a controversial topic throughout history. This controversy has resulted from the failure to control the number and type of immigration.
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Additionally, it is worth noting that America was a colony of Britain. Therefore, America received a significant number of immigrants during the colonial period. However, during this era, the immigration policy did not exist. Nonetheless, the largest wave of immigrants arrived in America in the 20th century. This essay provides an insight into the History of immigration in America.
The colonial period, in America, lasted from 1607 to 1776. During this period, majority of immigrants were Britons. In fact, by 1790, sixty percent of the population in Jamestown (Virginia) and Plymouth (Massachusetts) was from Britain. Most of these immigrants came to America for economic reasons. However, some arrived in search of religious freedom. The Germans, who began arriving in America around early to mid 1700s, were the second major group to arrive.
However, they lived in rural areas and resisted assimilation by other cultures. Additionally, from the start of the colonial period until the abolition of slave trade, America received many immigrants from Africa. These were slaves meant to work in plantations. Therefore, they were involuntary immigrants. About eleven to twelve million African slaves were shipped to the Americas between the 16th and 20th Centuries.
The first large-scale wave of immigrants occurred between 1820 and 1880. In this time, over ten million immigrants arrived in America. The most notable immigrants were the Irish. Three million people migrated from Ireland to the US supposedly to escape the potato famine. Furthermore, the second wave of immigrants took place between 1880 to1930. In this episode alone, America received 27.5 million immigrants.
This group was from Southern and Eastern Europe. Moreover, they were Catholics and did not speak English. The Jewish also migrated to America during this time. However, they were more skilled than the earlier group. For that reason, it was easier for them to settle than the group from Eastern and Southern Europe. Additionally, the first wave of Asian immigrant was between 1840 and 1924.
These were mainly Chinese and Japanese immigrants. The Japanese settled in the rural farms where they worked as agricultural contract workers. On the other hand, the Chinese worked on Hawaiian plantations, mines and railroads. The largest wave of immigrants came after 1965. A significant number of Mexicans entered America during this wave.
Uncontrolled immigration caused a major crisis in the US. Consequently, there was a need to develop restrictive immigration policies. For that reason, a literacy test was developed in 1917. This was followed by the immigration act of 1924 and later the Hart Cellar Act of 1965.
In the immigration act of 1924, the total immigration was restricted to 165,000 people per year while only 2% of all immigrants were to come from the same country. On the other hand, the Hart Cellar Act of 1965 restricted immigration to family unification and employment visas. In addition, the act placed ceilings on immigrants from certain hemispheres.
In conclusion, it is worth noting that America’s immigration history is crucial in understanding the dynamics of the various ethnic groups within it. Additionally, the controversy in the immigration has stood for a long period of time. Therefore, failure to control the number and type of immigration in America is not a new thing.