The History of Immigration to the United States

Historians argue that the first American inhabitants moved in around twenty thousand years ago. These immigrants are considered the ancestors of today’s Native Americans. However, immigration topics consider Native Americans as the original inhabitants of the United States thus not considering them when discussing American immigration.  The history of immigration in America is characterized by issues such as racism, immigration laws, and discrimination, religion, and ethnicity.  The Native Americans are the minority in the US society implying that other races have been migrating to America.  The great migration of the Europeans in America began in the 15th century.  The sailing technology had gained immense popularity in the 15th century that enabled the Europeans to cross the Atlantic Ocean. They were seeking political and religious freedom that was limited in Europe. Others were motivated by the availability of unexploited resources especially land in the United States.  The period between the 15th and 17th century was characterized by the migration of both the Spanish and the British.  The European established plantation farming that increased the demand for labor.  As a result, the slave trade gained popularity where slaves were acquired from West Africa by the Arab traders and sold to the settler farmers.  The slave trade led to the settlement of African-Americans in the United States.

Immigration in the United States took a different turn between the years 1790 and 1820.  Census conducted in independent America revealed that English and African ethnic groups were the largest and the second largest respectively. In the year 1790, the Congress passed the Naturalization Act that allowed free white persons who were noncitizens to apply for citizenship. The act marked the beginning of controlling immigration.  The migration of Europeans reduced substantially during and after the 1790s due to political instability affecting European powers. Also, the war between America and Britain slowed migration. The realization of peace in Europe and the end of the war between America and British increase the rate of Europeans migration to America. The immigrant encountered many problems when in transit from Europe to America due to unfavorable conditions in the shipping vessels.  As a result of these problems, the Congress responded by introducing the Steerage Act in the year 1819 that was aimed at compelling  ship captains to provide friendly conditions ships and also maintain proper records of the passengers.

The period between the year 1880 and 1930 was characterized by massive migration of more Europeans and for the first time a substantial number of Asians. The booming businesses in the United States attracted different races. The Chinese moved to America at an alarming rate that led to the introduction of the Chinese Exclusion Act that was aimed at restricting the Chinese migration.  During the Second World War, the migration of Germans and Italians was restricted and those already in were mistreated due to the high hostility between America and the Axis powers.   The American government was even more hostile on the Japanese since all Japanese living in America were interned.

Between 1965 and 2000 the migration trends changed where European immigrants reduced substantially while immigrants from Asia, Central America, Mexico, and the Philippines increased immensely.  The issue of illegal immigrants was dominant in the 1980s and 90s.  In the year 1986, the government through the Immigration Reform Act gave amnesty to over three million illegal immigrants.  Most of them were of Mexican origin that developed hostilities towards the Hispanic Americans. This perception about the Hispanic Americans is still affecting America today since many people perceive Hispanic Americans as illegal immigrants.

The Differences in the Average Socioeconomic Status and Upward Mobility of Second Generation Immigrant Minorities

The second generation immigrant minorities’ upward mobility and social, economic status are to a great extent influenced by the social, economic status of their parents and immigration policies. A close examination of the second-generation Latino Americans reveals that the two factors play a crucial role in the social and economic development of the second generation immigrants in the United States.  Hispanic Americans form the largest portion of immigrants, and their inflow continues to increase.  The social, economic status of their parents has the strongest influence on their socioeconomic status followed closely by the immigration policies in the United States.

Most Latino Americans migrate to America in search of green pastures. The larger portion of these immigrants is undocumented that compromise their ability to engage in legitimate economic activities.  They also lack adequate skills to enable them to secure well-paying jobs. Education systems in Latino America are of lower standards as compared to the American system.  It implies that even the educated Latino immigrants are not competitive in the American labor market. Their inability to secure well-paying jobs compromise their socioeconomic status and upward mobility. Being the children of the immigrants, the second generation immigrant minorities cannot realize socioeconomic development due to the absence of the same in their parents. Education is one of the key factors that influence upward mobility and a favorable socioeconomic status. The immigrants cannot afford quality education to their children.  Education remains out of reach for many immigrants in despite the heavy investment by the government in the education sector. Some costs are met by individuals that make it hard for the immigrants to educate their children. The fact that the second generation immigrant minorities lack adequate skills limits their ability to realize upward mobility and socioeconomic development. Also, the second generation immigrant minorities are brought up in a poor environment that exposes them to crime and drugs that compromise their socioeconomic development.

The American immigration policies to a great extent influence the upward mobility and socioeconomic status of the second generation immigrant minorities. America has been implementing harsh immigration policies aimed at discouraging illegal immigration. Any illegal immigrant America captured by immigrant law enforcers is deported with immediate effect. Some incidences of deportation are publicized that creates a negative image of the minority races. Latino Americans are the worst affected by the tough immigration policies. The government has in the past one decade deported thousands of undocumented immigrants to their countries. The hostility towards undocumented immigrants has elicited heated political debates regarding the treatment of Hispanic Americans and other minority races that account for substantial portions of the illegal immigrants.  The immigration policies promote racism since other races especially the whites view the minority races as the cause of problems facing the United States.  The ill treatment of the second generation immigrant minorities compromises their engagement in income generating activities that in turn degrade their social, economic status and upward mobility.




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