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Ever since the United States came into existence, it has been seen that the laws and attitudes towards immigration and immigrants have constantly changed. Either the immigrants have been welcomed with open arms or straight up barred depending on how they impact the culture of the United States (Smith, 2017). The immigrants have faced a fair share of challenges and experiences over the course of time. In this paper, the immigration trends in the United States from the 19th Century to 1945 will be discussed and compared to the trends of the contemporary USA.
In 1892, Ellis Island, America’s first immigration station opened in New York Harbor. Annie Moore a teenage girl from the County Cork in the United States was the first immigrant to step in the United States through the immigration station. So, in between 1892- 1945 around 12 million steps into the United States through Ellis Island. In 1907 the immigration of the United States saw a peak once again as around 1.3 million immigrants stepped into the United States. 1907 was also the time when the Gentleman's Agreement was signed between the United States and Japan. Americans were having issues with the increasing numbers of Japanese and taking the jobs to which this agreement was signed under the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Under the agreement, Japan agreed that they will limit the Japanese immigration and Roosevelt urged Sans Francisco to stop the segregation of Japanese and white students in the schools.
By 1910, around three-quarters, if New York City's populace consisted of first-generation Americans and new immigrants. In 1917 racism had reached new heights on account of American contribution in World War 1. Majority of the Asian countries were restricted from immigrating to the United States and there was a new criterion of the immigrants having a certain qualification in order to enter the United States. By 1924 things changed more. The restrictions increased as per the Immigration Act of 1924. The number of immigrants allowed in the United States were limited and only allowed via the yearly quota. Only 2% of all nationalities were given the chance to apply for the visa. Further, immigrants from the northern and western Europe were favored, these areas only covered three countries; Ireland, Germany, and Great Britain. The act completely left out the immigrants from Asia, other than the Philippines. These limitations increased illegal immigration to the US (Smith, 2107). This led to the establishment of the US Border Patrol, restricting any illegal immigrants from the borders of Mexico and China. Then the United States faced labor shortages during World War 2, which led America to form the Bracero Program. This Program allowed the Mexican agriculture workers to enter the United States but it ended in 1964.
Talking about the immigration situation today, there are certain aspects that are similar to the old times but there are also things that are different. Back in the day, the immigrants were not given white-collar jobs, that part has changed but the inequality is similar to the old days. The immigrants today do not get the same opportunities as whites due to racism. Yes, they are qualified for the white-collar jobs but are denied for no good reason. Racism was present back in the day and still is an issue currently. New policies from Donald Trump have made things worse. His vision of making America great again is by excluding the immigrants. Again, there is a ban on majority Muslim countries and there is a vision of a wall between Mexico and the United States.
The issues that are being faced by the immigrants today are still similar to the problems faced in the past. The differences are in the policies. Racism would be the most substantial similarity that has stayed constant (Smith, 2017). There might be new countries who must have been restricted by the US based on the impact they might bring to the culture, but the basis of doing so will always go down to racism.
Smith, R. C. (2017). Transnational Localities: Community, Technology and the Politics of Membership within the Context of Mexico and US Migration 1. In Transnationalism from below(pp. 196-238). Routledge.
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