Immigration—Almost Four Hundred Years of American History - Coming To America, Attitudes Toward Immigrants, The First Century Of Immigration, Immigration At The Turn Of Thetwentieth Century
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There were probably as many reasons for coming to America as there were people who came. It was a highly individual decision. Yet it can be said
that three large forces—religious persecution, political oppression and economic hardship—provided the chief motives for the mass migration to our shores. They were responding, in their own way, to the pledge of the Declaration of Independence: the promise of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
—John F. Kennedy, A Nation of Immigrants, 1964
This chapter covers the impact of immigration and related legislation from the founding of the first American colonies through the 1970s. Immigration from the 1980s to the present follows in Chapter 2. Information for these two chapters was drawn from a variety of resources, but in particular the U.S. Census Bureau; the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration; the Department of State; the National Archives; and the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
America, from its very beginning, has been a land of immigrants. People have come from all nations seeking free choice of worship, escape from cruel governments, and relief from war, famine, or poverty. All came with dreams of a better life for themselves and their families. America has accommodated these people of diverse
backgrounds, customs, and beliefs, although not without considerable fricti…
Immigration was the way of life in the country's first century. Nevertheless, negative attitudes began to appear among the already settled English population. In 1753 Benjamin Franklin warned about the Germans coming to Pennsylvania: Those who came hither are generally the most stupid of their own nation, and as ignorance is
often attended with great credulity, when knavery [dishonest deali…
In the early 1800s America's territory more than doubled in size with the addition of the 828,000 square miles of land, which came to be known as the Louisiana Purchase. Reports of rich farm land and virgin forests provided by explorers like Lewis and Clark drew struggling farmers and skilled craftsmen, merchants and miners,
laborers, and wealthy investors to leave Europe for the land of op…
Immigration and Naturalization Service annual records reported that the nation's already high immigration rate at the turn of the century doubled between 1902 and 1907. Immigration reached a million per year in TABLE 1.2 Aliens excluded, by administrative reason for exclusion, 1892–1990 SOURCE: Adapted from "Table 44. Aliens
Excluded by Administrative Reason for Exclusio…
World War I temporarily stopped the influx of immigrants. In 1914, 1.2 million immigrants arrived; a year later the number dropped to barely 326,700. By 1918, the final year of the war, just over 110,000 immigrants ventured to America. However, the heavy flow started again after the war as people fled the war-ravaged European
continent. More than 800,000 immigrants arrived in 1921. The new wave of…
Immigration dropped well below 100,000 arrivals per year during the Great Depression of the 1930s, since America offered no escape from the unemployment that was rampant throughout most of the world. However, in the latter half of the 1930s Nazi persecution caused a new round of immigrants to flee Europe. In 1940 the INS was
transferred from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice. Th…
A growing fear of "communist infiltration" arose during the post-World War II period. One result was the passage of the Internal Security Act of 1950 (64 Stat. 987; PL 81-831), also known as the McCarran Act, which made membership in communist or totalitarian organizations cause for exclusion (denial of an alien's entry into
the United States), deportation, or denial of natura…
In 1963 President John F. Kennedy submitted a plan to change the quota system. Two years later Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965 (PL 89-236). Since 1924 sources of immigration had changed. In the 1950s immigration from Asia more than quadrupled from 37,028 (between 1941 and 1950) to 153,249
(between 1951 and 1960). In the same period immigration from North, Cen…
Official American refugee programs began in response to the devastation of World War II, which created millions of refugees and displaced persons (DPs). (A displaced person was a person living in a foreign country as a result of having been driven from his or her home country due to war or political unrest.) This was the first
time the United States formulated policy to admit persons fleeing perse…
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