What is the History of Immigration in America?
Today the immigration courts and immigration attorneys are busy with hopeful immigrants from around the world. What motivates someone to come to America today? Is it different than the motivation of previous immigrants? Let's study.
First Wave1790 - 1820
PUSH/PULL FACTORS: Groups of immigrants came for a variety of religious, political, and economic reasons.
IMMIGRANTS: English, Scots, Scots-Irish, Germans (migrated to Pennsylvania for religious freedom), Dutch, French, Spanish (migrated to Florida and southwest for Christian converts), Puritans (migrated to Massachusetts to establish a community restricted to members of their faith)
-Starvation, disease, and shipwreck killed 1 in 10 of those immigrants who set sail for America before they even set foot on land.
-English settlers comprised 60 percent of the U.S. citizenry in 1790 (the year of the first U.S. population census).
-A large amount of white immigrants (one-third of those arriving in 1776) indentured themselves to secure passage.
Second Wave1820 - 1860
PUSH/PULL FACTORS: Immigrants came for new opportunities because in Europe, peasants displaced from agriculture and artisans were made jobless from the industrial revolution. Some immigrants received "American Letters" which were encouraging friends and relatives to join them in America.
IMMIGRANTS: German (escaping economic problems and seeking political freedom), British, Irish (poverty and famine encouraged emigration).
-The Roman Catholic church was the single largest religious body in the United States by 1850.
-Steamships and railroad companies recruited immigrants as customers.
-About 40 percent of the immigrants from the second wave came from Ireland.
Third Wave1880 - 1914
PUSH/PULL FACTORS: Immigrants came over to America for more job opportunities and freedom of religion.
IMMIGRANTS: Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian countries (migrated to the western states).
-Over half of the operatives in steel, meat-packing, and mining were made up of immigrants.
-In the 1910 census, foreign-born residents made up 15 percent of the U.S. population and 24 percent of the U.S. labor force.
-By 1914, 1.2 million immigrants had entered the United States.
Fourth Wave1965 - Present
PUSH/PULL FACTORS: A new law that altered the selection of immigrants from the country they were from, to giving priority to people who already had family in the United States or had skills that were needed in the labor market.
IMMIGRANTS: Europeans, Asians, Hispanics (Mexico)
-In the 1980s and early 1990s, Asians made up about one-third of the immigrants entering America
-Hispanics made up about one-half of the number of immigrants in the 1980s and early 1990s.
-In the 1970s, Europeans made up less than 20 percent of the immigrants entering America and only about 10 percent in the 1980s.