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History of Immigration in the US - Essay Example

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Part One History of Immigration in the United States The United States is a very ethnically diverse country, and this is due to the many different waves of immigration into the country. The largest ethnic group is Caucasian, with corresponds with the first wave of immigration during the colonial era of Western Europeans…
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History of Immigration in the US
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History of Immigration in the US

There are negative aspects to having such an ethnically diverse population, such as racism and social class boundaries drawn along racial lines; African Americans, for example, generally earn less than their Caucasian counterparts. The purpose of this paper is to explore how the history of immigration has shaped the United States and how it affects the population. The first immigration can be said to be one of the most important. As previously mentioned, the Western Europeans brought with them African slaves, and it is perhaps partly due to the lingering thought that African Americans are associated with this slave trade that draws one of the most important cultural boundaries. African Americans experience high levels of racism, as evidenced by the presence of ‘Christian’ groups such as the KKK who continue to exist in the U.S. today and work towards ethnically cleansing the country. African Americans earn less and are frequently found in the most deprived areas, suggesting that there is still a lot of work to be done to counteract this earlier negativity. Another important aspect of this first wave of immigration is the treatment of the Native Americans who were already residing in the area. The white colonists felt that the native groups were in many ways inferior, as well as bringing with them several infectious diseases that were problematic. This led to a large decrease in the number of Native Americans residing in the United States and forceful land-grabbing ensuring that these people could no longer live their traditional lifestyles. Again, Native Americans suffer from racism and economic problems, which could be seen as a result of this earlier cultural boundary drawn by the colonists. In the 19th century, the Western Europeans again began to migrate en-masse to the United States. Two important cultural groups arriving with this wave were the Germans and the Irish, both leaving their home countries because of unfavourable conditions there and the promise of the American Dream. The Nativist/Know Nothing movement strongly opposed these immigrations because it was felt that they could disrupt the social balance of the country. Importantly, the Irish immigrants were predominantly Catholic and it was felt that, because they were under the control of the Pope in Rome, there would be an upheaval of the style of Christianity already established in the U.S. The 19th century also saw the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which said that there were only to be a certain number of Chinese immigrants into the country. At first, Chinese immigrants were seen as important to the economy of the United States but after the economic situation improved, they began to be blamed for white unemployment. There was often violence against the Chinese in California because of the passing of this act. This era also saw the mass immigration of Polish Jews attempting to escape the Russian empire and religious persecution, and these people were again generally refused entry after the immigration quota was reached. Racism was, and still is, an important issue for the Chinese and Jewish people, perhaps because of their treatment during this time. In conclusion, it is easy to see how the United States has become such an ethnically diverse country and how these different events have shaped the racial landscape of the country. Many of these immigration events, and those that came after, still have an ... Read More
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