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History of Immigration in the US and Modern-day Challenges

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Society
Wordcount: 2686 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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Immigration is a complex phenomenon that needs to be analyzed from multiple approaches that allow us to form a moderately rational judgment about it. They will be precisely located in one of these perspectives, from which certain conceptions that, in our opinion, are no more than interested ideologies that are still maintained with respect to the way of understanding democracy and the rights actually existing in our societies, can be questioned. societies.


The history of the American people is the history of immigrants. The United States has received more immigrants than any other country. More than 75% of all people who left their homelands one day came to settle in the United States.

The emigration to America began more than 20,000 years ago. At that time, groups of transhumant hunters followed herds of animals from Asia to America through a land bridge in the north, where today is the Bering Strait. Why did these first European settlers undertake a dangerous sea crossing, suffering great difficulties, to come to settle in an unknown land? They were driven by the same desires that continue to bring immigrants today. The first European settlers went in search of land, wealth and freedom: a better life. Some settlers came to America in pursuit of religious freedom because in America they could worship God in their own way.

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Between 1619 and 1808, about 500,000 Africans were brought to the American colonies, forced to be slaves. But importing slaves to the United States was declared a crime in 1808. By 1810 there were 7.2 million inhabitants in the United States, of which 1.2 million were slaves and 186,768 were free blacks. Today, black Americans constitute about 12% of the total population.

Between 1840 and 1860 in Europe, hunger, poor harvests, the growing population and political unrest caused nearly five million people to leave their countries each year. In addition the land and the US. it was always very abundant and relatively cheap, while labor was scarce and relatively expensive. A drop in the birth rate that coincided with the take-off of industry and urbanization reinforced this situation. In the nineteenth century the E.E.U.U. They continued to be a strong magnet for immigrants, which offered them opportunities to have farms in the countryside or to find work in the cities. Adding to this, it was also said that in North America there was economic opportunity and political and religious freedom. All these striking features from this country increased the desire for people from Europe to travel to E.E.U.U.

Coincidentally, between the years 1845 and 1850, the Irish people suffered from hunger because of an epidemic that caused the putrefaction of the potato. There were also other reasons for the migration of the Irish: resentment with the government, landowners, Protestantism and British taxes. This prolonged depression that brought immense social hardship caused the immigration of Irish to E.E.U.U. Today, in the E.E.U.U. there are more than 13 million Americans with Irish significance.

During the Civil War, the federal government encouraged the immigration of Europe, especially from the German states, by offering land grants to immigrants who served in the northern armies. In 1854, 215,000 Germans landed at American ports. Among these immigrants were a large number of professionals, educated people (doctors, lawyers, professors, engineers), some of them refugees from the failed German Revolution of 1830 and 1848. In addition to a range of political opinions ranging from conservatism to Marxism A third of the new immigrants professed the Catholic religion, many were Protestants (mostly Lutherans) and there was a significant number of Jews, free-thinking atheists and agnostics. Unlike the Irish, among the Germans there were many independent farmers, trained workers, and warehouse owners who came with means to establish themselves in the city or in the countryside. The Germans, too, traveled with their families, which would help them preserve their language and culture. Today, a third of Americans are of German descent.

Two other groups that began to arrive in considerable numbers during the 1840s and 1850s were Scandinavian immigrants who did not exceed 1,000 men until 1843, but in 1860 they lived in the United States. 72,600 Scandinavians And Norwegians and Swedes who usually arrived in family groups in Wisconsin and Minnesota, where the climate and forests reminded them of their homeland.

 In 1896, more than half of all immigrants were Poles, Hungarians and Czechs.

During the 1880s, Jews suffered bloody massacres throughout eastern Europe. Many thousands escaped an almost certain death to the US. Today there are about 5.7 million American Jews living in the V, and comprise about 2.2% of the total population.

The United States was being known throughout the world as a refuge and a place of reception for people from many nations. In 1886, as a gesture of friendship, France donated to the E.E.U.U. the statue of Liberty. This statue is a symbol of hope and freedom that the country offers. The words engraved on the statue of La Libertad are an inspiration for people from many countries who hope to go to the US: “Give me your poor, the weary, the masses who yearn to breathe freely. The miserable remains of your crowded coasts. Send me to them, to those who have no home, to those who were thrown by the storm. I raise my lamp over the golden door! ”

In the 30 years between 1890 and 1920, more than 18.2 million immigrants invaded the coasts of the US. In 1910, 14.4% of all residents had been born abroad; today, about 6.2% of all North American residents they were born abroad.

The United States had always been the land of immigrants, but the welcome that had been given to them frequently was not very cordial. For many natives, these waves of foreigners to the territory posed a threat of unknown languages, mysterious customs and, perhaps worst of all, feared religions. After 1840 waves of immigration became critical to the dynamics of growth. The increase in population contributed to economic growth and demand, whether the newcomer was engaged in agriculture or settled in a city. Many citizens worried, thinking that these new Americans would take their jobs. The citizens began to ask that the congress limit the number of immigrants.


Today it is not uncommon to walk the streets of the US. and hear Spanish spoken. In 1950 there were less than 4 million residents of the United States. that came from Spanish-speaking countries. Today it is estimated that there are 17.6 million Spanish speakers in the country. Near 60% of these in the E.E.U.U. they had their origin in Mexico. The other 40% comes from a variety of countries, including El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Colombia.

Formerly it was thought that the US. It was a true “melting pot” of immigrants. A “crucible” means that, as they entered the US. immigrants from many different cultures, their old customs melted and they became part of an entirely new culture.

Often, groups of Americans from the same culture come together. They live together in distinctive communities, such as “Chinatown” or “Little Italy”. Living in communities with the same ethnic group gives new Americans the security of sharing a common language and traditions with people who understand them.

The children of immigrants are often eager to adopt new American customs.

Immigrants move to the United States because they seek a better life. A better life since the United States has always shown itself to be a great power, a great magnet for immigrants, thanks to the fact that in this country there is a lot of work opportunity and there is political and religious freedom. Also this country has shown to have good land, wealth, and something very important, freedom. The economic stimulus has always been almost always the biggest motivation.

It takes a lot of courage to leave behind everything that is familiar and reach a new country. Since before the independence of the Americans, they have been a people willing to take risks and try new things. This willingness to accept the unknown requires an independence and optimism that is considered characteristic of the current American people.

Immigrants also come to the US. because they differ from the majority of those around them and because Americans are also known to accept, generally, people with different ideas.

Immigrants also believe in the dream of the United States they believe that by working hard and obeying the laws, they can obtain a better life.

The causes of migrations can be classified as 4:

  1. Economic: This cause is one of the most important and striking for people from all over the world to migrate to the US.
  2. Migration by catastrophe: It is also present in the migrations to the E.E.U.U. It is clearly shown in the reason why the Irish immigrate to the US: an epidemic that caused potato rot and produced a famine.
  1. Catastrophe caused by man: this is also one of the causes for people to migrate to the US. For example, many people migrated to this country for the First and Second World War, for the Civil War, etc.
  2. Sociocultural: This cause is another of the most important and is practically present in the minds of all people when they migrate to this country. The USA. It has characteristics that attract the attention of many people, such as freedom, the ease of making money and socially leveling up.

Migrations can have serious repercussions, some good and others bad. A consequence in the field of work may be, for example, where there are imbalances between the supply of labor and the supply of jobs, migration can be a corrective factor, by improving the lot of the worker and his family and alleviating unemployment in one region and underemployment in another.

Another consequence of psychological order can be: when a person with his own culture to another, the person can experience prolonged disturbances, even, can lose confidence in his discernment to feel uncomfortable with all these strange people and different culture.

The location where the person who immigrated is located can bring you several problems. Possibly he can be rejected from the place where he chose to live given his deferential culture; Blacks, Okies, Jews and Indians are often, visibly and even ostensibly rejected.

As immigrants from many different cultures enter the United States, their old customs can be merged into a new culture.

Another consequence is that the population grows in large numbers producing super-population problems. At the same time, new towns are emerging and existing ones grow.

The immigrant’s imprint on American civilization was summed up by the influential politicians and machines of the big cities. Although the political influence of the immigrant can undoubtedly be exaggerated, it was certainly powerful; and during the nineteenth century, it became increasingly noticeable as ships full of immigrants were leaving their cargoes on land.


While the United States does not face a challenge comparable to that of Europe, which is surrounded by the most troubled regions of the world, political tension has risen to similar levels. In 2016, 1.49 million immigrants entered, 7% more than the previous year. In total, there are 43.7 million people living in the country, 13.5% of the population. In 1970 they were only 5 percent. It is estimated that about 11 million are undocumented.

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In 2016, 415,816 people were attempting to enter the country illegally, 23% more than in 2015. 98% of arrests were registered in the southern border, and almost all detainees were from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Since he took office in January 2017, Donald Trump has aimed to reduce the flow of migrants that the United States receives every year. He considers them responsible for a good part of the crime that affects the country.

There are cultural, economic and national security reasons. Governments do not know how to deal with the phenomenon for fear of losing the consensus of voters and fear of not being able to integrate migrants. Those concerns surpass the demographic and economic factors that would lead to encouraging immigration.

Proposals for a possible solution to a complex problem

1. Promote legal and regulated immigration

There are many ways to deal with the increase of immigration in Europe, starting with the most obvious: to open legal and safe entry routes. That reduces migrants’ incentives to use human traffickers and breaks their networks. It would also be crucial for EU member states to allocate quotas for the reception of those seeking asylum. It would alleviate the responsibility of the countries that are in the front line and facilitate the integration.

This strategy would not only serve refugees who are fleeing armed conflicts or natural disasters. Promoting controlled immigration for labor purposes would also allow an exit from poverty for thousands of people from different countries, but without risking dying along the way. Considering the rejection of the European population to take the lowest rated jobs, it should not have harmful effects on the unemployment rate.

2. Regularize the undocumented

The first solution should be a legalization of all those who are undocumented in the United States, with their formal integration into the labor market. It would send the signal that there is no longer any demand for new illegal immigrants.

3. Economic and political support from recipient countries to issuers.

The support to the local economies and to the education, would reduce the number of those that undertake that crossing by the lack of perspectives.

Financial aid and state capacity, focused on transit countries, is necessary to allow them to manage arrivals and, potentially, identify the most vulnerable cases, which would need greater protection.

It is clear, few people want to leave their country if they can enjoy minimally acceptable living conditions. For that reason, the basic solution to the migratory overflows will always be the development of the nations that expel their inhabitants. That can not be inoculated from the outside, it is a long process that depends on internal dynamics. But the most powerful countries on the planet can make a contribution.


  1. United Nations – OHCHR (2013) Annex 3, note 1. International migration is an important feature of globalization in the 21st century. p. 46
  2. Economic Research Department of the BBVA Group, p.4
  3. United Nations (2011): http://esa.un.org/unpp/p2k0data.asp
  4. PIGRAU, A.: “The policies of the IMF and the World Bank and the Rights of Peoples” [online]. [Consultation: January 14, 2003] http://www.cidob.org/Castellano/Publicaciones/Afers/pigrau.html.
  5. WORLD BANK: World Development Report 2000/2001.


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