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The Immigrant Experience

The Immigrant Experience

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The United States of America experienced major waves of immigration during the era of colonization, especially in the first part of the 19th century from the year 1880s to 1920s, ( Newberry para. 1). Many of the immigrants came due to economic opportunities, while the Pilgrims came in search of religious freedoms. Furthermore, the African Trans-Atlantic Trade caused influx of the Africans between the 17th and 19th century against their will. The first legislation, which restricted the immigration, was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. From the earliest days, the United States of America has been a country with many immigrants, starting from the original inhabitants that came from Europe. The United States relied on the newcomers because the country had relatively open lands. Thus, immigration during the colonial era is a genesis for the Truman’s 9981 Executive Order due to pressure against racial discrimination after the Second World War.  

Groups Involved

The religious tensions in Britain remained serious immediately after the Protestant Reformation. The Puritans wanted to purify and reform the church of Anglicans. The Puritans thought that the priests and bishops had too much power, especially over the members of the church. The extreme Protestants wanted to leave the church. In response, the leaders of the Anglican started to punish Separatists. The Pilgrims were one of the separatists group. Because of the endless punishment, the group moved to Netherlands in 1608. The Pilgrims became one of the immigrant groups who moved out of their homeland to another country. However, while in Netherlands, the Pilgrims were not happy because their children were learning the Dutch language. They feared that their children would forget the English traditions; consequently, they migrated to the United States.

Due to progress in the Industrial Revolution after 1700, a large part of the population moved to the city centers; the phenomenon particularly transpired in Britain. The German Americans and the Dutch spoke dialect becuse it was their primary language back in Europe, but they used English as the main trading language. The laws and structure of government at all ranks was mainly copied from the English laws and government. The only British body, which was not imitated, was the aristocracy. The settlers started their elected governments as well as courts, which grew within a few years later. The settlers had their own self-supporting and ruling government. The self-ruling among the settlers became so entrenched such that almost all the new settlers’ groups had their government immediately after they arrived in the new land.

About 50,000 to 100,000 Catholic Irishmen came to the United States in the 1600s, who were also followed by another 100,000 in the 1700s. Indentured slavery was a common way of migration, and in the 1740s, the Irish conjured nine out of ten servants of the colonial regions. After the settlement of the immigrants, the population of the regions grew to exceed ten percent with the exception of the isolated instances. The last colonies to be settled were the Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Carolina. The immigrants the regions came mostly from England and Scotland, except only the Pennsylvania, which was occupied mainly by the German immigration. Over the half of British immigrants mostly in the South arrived as the indentured servants. They were poor and young people who could not afford passage to the United States; hence they resorted to immigration by the means of work indentures especially between five to seven years.  Moreover, about sixty thousands of the British convicts were transferred to the British colony of Georgia, as most were guilty of being poor or out of work. Convicts were the only group of immigrants with complete immigration records while others lived in America with insufficient or no records.

The African American immigration in the United States was the forced migration due to the Trans-Atlantic trade. The phenomenon caused voyage of black people to the American land. A second dynamic movement occurred due to the internal slave trade that took place by transportattion of blacks off the coast of Atlantic to the southern region of America. The third migration was the transportation of the black slaves from the rural South to the urban North (Sanchez 106). After the immigration into the new land, they experienced many challenges.

Challenges Faced by Immigrants

The entry of migrants into the United States caused mixed reactions. In some cases, the immigrants were welcomed. On the contrary, some of the already established Americans saw them as threat. The Irish, German, and the Italian migrants who entered America land during the 1800s often faced criticism and mistrust. They also faced a problem of language barrier. Moreover, others, who escaped the problem of poverty and religion, discovered that they would have to face the same treatment.

The problems faced by the United States immigrants included overcrowding in the cities and towns. Furthermore, trying to find employment was a challenge to many. The lives of the immigrants became characterized by poverty and diseases. Many escaped their countries due to economic reasons, because they expected to find abundant opportunities, but all were in vain. Children also had to work to support their families hence increased mortality among the young age of the immigrant community. 

The major issue, which the immigrants faced, was the racial segregation. Legally and socially sanctioned privileges and rights were granted to the White Americans, while the immigrants were denied the equal treatment. The Native Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latin Americans suffered due to segregation. The Anglo-Americans enjoyed granted privileges and rights such as education, right to vote, citizenship, and land acquisition while the immigrants suffered partial exclusion and continuous discrimination in many sectors. The discrimination was even more vivid in the military. Discrimination of immigrants continued despite the efforts to fight it after the Second World War and it was the genesis of Truman’s Executive Order 9981.

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