The United States has always been the country where many people immigrate to live a better life. Since before the 1700s immigrants have been coming to America. They risked their lives in order to come to the United States to live a better life and have better opportunities for themselves and their families. There are currently 10 million immigrants in California and more to come.  In this essay I will explain what happened in the four major waves of U.S immigration. Once I’m done explaining the four waves, hopefully you got an understanding of what immigration was like compared to what it’s like now. America started with immigrants and will continue to be that way.       We know that Native Americans were the first to be in The United States before it was The United States. They were the ones that first discovered this land. Humans first arrived 20,000 years ago coming over from the bering straits. They were believed to be ancestors of the Native Americans. Soon the Europeans started to arrive for the available land, and hope for religious and political freedoms. Some Europeans that arrived had peace with the Native Americans while others fought which caused violence and disease. The Europeans kept on coming and they started staying in different places. In the early 17th century the British were in England and Virginia, the Dutch were in New York and New Jersey, and the Swedes in Delaware. The Europeans weren’t the only immigrants to come here. Africans were brought as slaves from Africa and the Caribbean in 1619. The Europeans got what they wanted, land, political and religious freedom but the slaves got nothing. They had no freedom or got payed for the work they did.                   In 1700 there was a population of 250,000. By 1820 the population grew to 9.6 million. When immigrants started to first arrive there were no restrictions but in 1819 the federal law required ship captains to keep records of passengers on board. The German, Scottish, and Irish were all represented but the Natives weren’t. The congress couldn’t do anything about immigration since the constitution had all the power. What they were able to do was ban slavery in 1808. In the year of 1790 the naturalization act was passed and it stated that  “…any alien, being a free white person, may be admitted to become a citizen of the United States…” Immigrants who came to america were accepted as american but had to be white, speak english, all be the same and share the same religion ( protestant christianity)  and must never allow more than 10,000 immigrants in one year.  In between the years of 1820-1880 many immigrants from different countries arrived to the United States. The Irish, Europeans and immigrants from Asia were the ones to arrive. The Irish were the largest group to first arrive and they came to get away from The Great Hunger because many potatoes got a disease that caused them to smell horrible. While they migrated to the United States to leave the nightmare, the Europeans and Asians came because they heard of the gold rush in California. When they arrived, the Irish men worked on building the Erie Canal and railroads while Irish women worked as domestic servants. The Germans came after and they settled on farms and wanted to control the American brewing industry. Scandinavians from Sweden,Norway,and Denmark came after the civil war to work in small farms in the upper Midwest. After the Scandinavians came, the Chinese arrived to the west coast of the United States and many worked on constructing the Transcontinental railroads while others were cooks, launderers or miners. Not all times were good. During times that were hard, immigrants would get accused of stealing jobs from americans. The Know-Nothings were a anti-immigrant and anti-catholic organization that protested the loudest during the hard times. They are known for answering any given question with “I know nothing.” During the times of 1880-1930 a lot happened. At the time many different immigrants from different countries came to the U.S that being the British Isles, Germans, and Scandinavians from Northwestern Europe. Italians,Russians, and Austro-Hungarians from Southern and Eastern Europe. Families would get separated when immigrants would travel. There were families that would reunite in later times. Immigrants that came from the East coast would travel to Ellis Island in New York. Young men would often be the first to come because they needed jobs. They would then send for their families. In 1882 the Chinese Exclusion Act affected many chinese immigrants since the act restricted immigration from China. It made it harder for them to bring their wives and families to the United States. Laws that were made in earlier times, made it hard for them to bring their families. Even though some chinese communities stayed as “bachelor societies”, the act just made it worse for them. Japanese and Asian immigration was luckily ended in 1907.During that period of time the Mexicans, Jews, and Armenians were welcomed into the US because of situations that they dealt with. That being the revolution, fleeing the pogroms from Eastern Europe and Russia, and escaping massacres in Turkey. After the outbreak of WW1 attitudes were changed towards foreigners because nationalism and suspicion of foreigners were on the rise and loyalties from immigrants were questioned. Many immigrants were accused of stealing jobs from “Native” Americans which were white protestants. It was difficult for them to become “american” since there was a lack of education, their tendency to cluster in urban ethnic ghettos, and their attachment to their own languages and customs.  They chose to come to the U.S but had to deal with the dangerous journey. The trip that they took wasn’t the best. The poor traveled in the third class and would often be in steerage. They crossed over the Atlantic and had no private cabins or beds. They had to sleep on metal bunks and would often get seasick. In the day it would get crowded since the passengers would get out and smell the fresh air to get away from the foul steerage smell. The ones who were first and second class got off at Hudson River and were directly in New York. The third class was left at Ellis island, the new federal immigration processing center. The immigrants who were left at Ellis Island waited in long lines waiting to be allowed in the land of liberty. Some would wait for a few hours while others were there for a couple weeks. They had to go through tests to make sure that they weren’t sick, no illiterates, no anarchists, no contagious disease carriers, to gain legal entrance into America. The ones that stayed from 3rd class stayed in poor urban neighborhoods and stayed close to their ethnic groups. Most of them opened their own churches,restaurants and businesses. They had businesses but it was difficult to get houses since some landlords wouldn’t want to sell their houses to jews,blacks, or catholics. Employers also didn’t want to hire “their kind”. The government got them no aid so if they needed aid they’d have to go to Immigrant aid societies of churches or ethnic organizations. During this time in history it was very difficult. People chose to come to america for better lives. The land of liberty. When they got here they were happy. Many cried but were happy to be together with their families. Because of our ancestors and parents, we are here today. I will now be moving on to the fourth wave of U.S immigration that takes place from 1965 to now in the 2000s. Before I get into what happened during those years I’m going to tell a little back story about the great internal migration. During the great internal migration, many white southerners moved north to get better jobs while 70% of African Americans moved to the west and Midwest. What led them to migrate was the lack of economic opportunity in the south. Blacks couldn’t vote and there wasn’t any legal protections. They also couldn’t get access to good schools. Racism was also a big part in the south so that’s also why they decided to migrate. There were more jobs and opportunities in the north so when the whites migrated, the blacks were willing to take jobs from them if they didn’t want their jobs anymore. They would often work in slaughterhouses, stockyards, as railroad porters and as domestic servants. Just like in the third wave they settled in ethnic neighborhoods where they started their own businesses, restaurants and churches. The outcomes of the great internal migration was that northern cities started to become bigger with the population of blacks while some small inner cities became dangerous. Despite the danger, most blacks that had education created an african american middle class. They took advantage of the 1960s civil rights revolution and reached success. Both republican and democratic politicians helped african americans push through the civil right laws of the 1960s. From the great internal migration to now in the present, over 30 million immigrants have come to the United States most of them being from Latin America and Asia. Immigration from 1924-1964, less immigrants came to the U.S since the quota act kept them out. Ellis island was also abandon in 1954 and since that was where many immigrants would go in order to come to the United States, they couldn’t anymore. The Immigration and Naturalization Act was then signed by president Lyndon Johnson and changes were made. The act made family reunification (76%), individual talents and skills (20%), and refugee status (6%) the new criteria for admittance. It also raised the total number of immigrants allowed to about 300,000 per year, a number that has gradually been increased to the present one million per year. In this phase instead of being cramped in a boat, these people flew in aircrafts, came in by land or sea. Immigrants came in from land routes through Canada and Mexico which made it easier for them to come to the United States illegally. In 1986 the Immigration Reform and Control Act gave amnesty to over 3 million immigrants since immigration was the topic that was constantly talked about in political debates. The IRCA legalized over two million immigrants but since it was easy to get fake IDs, they did not prevent employers from hiring illegals. People from different countries come in order to get better jobs and better opportunities. Immigrants who have came here from the first few waves before this one, have basically made America. America was made mostly by the immigrants that came years ago. Parents and family member risked their lives in order to live the American dream. In the first three waves things were different and the trips to get here weren’t the best. The states where they often stay at are  California, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.  Now the laws have become much more strict and once you mess up and make a crime, you go to court and may or may not be deported. It’s much more different know dealing with our current president and the problems that have been caused because of him. I just wish the best for The United States because right now we’re not so United. I hope things change for the better.


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