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  Wikipedia: Immigration to the United States

Wikipedia: Immigration to the United States
Immigration to the United States
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The United States of America has had a long history of immigration, from the first English settlers to arrive on the shores of the country to the waves of immigration from Europe in the 19th century to immigration in the present day. Throughout American history immigration has been a controversial issue. The history of immigration to the United States of U.S is, in some senses, the history of the United States itself.

Historical immigration

Colonial-era immigration to North America

Early immigration laws prevented Asians and Africans from entering the USA legally (except as chattel in the latter case). For most Europeans, however, immigration was relatively free and unrestricted until the 1800s and the onset of the Industrial Revolution.

Voluntary migration from Europe

The population of the colonies that later became the United States grew from zero Europeans in the mid-1500s to 3.2 million Europeans and 700,000 African slaves in 1790. At that time, it is estimated that 3/4 of the population were of British descent with Germans being the second largest free ethnic group and making up some 7% of the population.

Between 1629 and 1640 some 20,000 Puritans emigrated out of England, most settling in the New England of North America, in an event known as the Great Migration, these people became the Yankees of far north New England, who later spread out to New York and the Upper Midwest.

From 1609 to 1664, some 8,000 Dutch settlers peopled the New Netherlands, which later became New York and New Jersey.

Between 1645 and 1670, some 45,000 Royalists and/or indentured servants left England to work in the Middle Colonies and Virginia

From about 1675 to 1715, the Quakers made their move, leaving the Midlands and North England behind for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The Quaker movement was one of the largest religious presences in early colonial America.

Germans migrated early into several colonies but mostly to Pennsylvania where they made up 1/3 of the population by the time of the Revolution.

Between about 1710 and 1775, about 250,000 Scotch-Irish, mostly Presbyterian Protestants of Scottish descent from northern Ireland and generally settled in western Pennsylvannia, and Appalachia and the western frontier, the places later would become Kentucky and Tennessee.

Slavery, indentured servitude and convict shipments

The majority of African slaves were brought to the future United States before it was the United States. The numbers are less than clear but it is believed that some 300,000 slaves were brought to the States before Independence, and some 100,000 were imported in the period between the American Revolutionary War and the American Civil War.

And while history tends to emphasize the British shipment of convicts to its Australian colony, between 1700 and 1770, some 50,000 European convicts were also delivered across the seas to North America.

Immigration 1776 to 1849

Germans made up almost one-tenth of the population of the country by the end of the 18th century. Larger numbers of Germans immigrated in the 1800's. 20,000 came in the years 1816-1817 fleeing a famine. Some 6,000 fled to America after the failed Revolution of 1848.

Immigration 1850 to 1900

The 1850 United States census was the first federal U.S. census to query about the "nativity" of citizens--where they were born, either in the United States or outside of it, and is thus the first point at which solid statistics become available.

Immigration 1901 to the present day

Contemporary immigration

Contemporary immigrants are very strongly concentrated in six states: California, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey and Illinois. The combined total immigrant population of these six states is 70% of the total foreign-born population as of 2000.

Illegal Immigration

One consequence of laws restricting the number and ethnicity of persons entering the USA is a phenomenon referred to as illegal immigration, in which persons enter a country and obtain work without legal sanction. In some cases, this is accomplished by entering the country legally with a visa, and then simply choosing not to leave upon expiration of the visa. In other cases - most notoriously Mexicans in the USA without legal sanction - people enter the country surreptitiously without ever obtaining a visa. Often, people entering in this fashion are economic refugees - a class of refugee not recognized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration_Services (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service); these persons have left their home country in a desperate bid to provide financial support for themselves and/or their families. This is particularly true in cases where "minimum wage" in the US is several times what the average laborer earns in a given country; such immigrants often send large portions of their income to their countries and families of origin.

Much of the controversy today with immigration to the US involves anti-illegal immigration idealogies. Critics of these ideologies say that those who call to and end for "illegal immigration" really are calling for an end to all immigration, but are not realizing it. This is for two reasons, one being that all the problems associated illegal immigration (race to the bottom in wages, etc.) also apply almost equally to non illegal immigrants. Secondly, critics believe that anti immigrant idealogues misunderstand the immigration process and do not realize how many workers who they seem to be replacing jobs that American citizens can do are here completely legally, albeit without citizenship (this number is larger then the amount of illegal immigrants from per country).

In the dawn of the 21st century, the controversy was revived because many high tech and software engineering workers were being brought from India on H1 visas. Critics claimed that these people were working for less money and displacing American citzens. The companies who imported the workers argued usually that there were not enough American citzens to fit the job. A few economists argued that whether or not that might be true, it was better to import the workers, otherwise the companies would simply offshore the entire operation to India itself. This would likely be worse for the US economy as a whole, because in the first scenario Indian workers here in the US would at least be spending money in the United States, while the supranational corporation that would export the workers to India would probably not pass down as much of the savings to the US consumer who purchased for them.


In contrast to economic refugees, who are not generally granted legal admission, other classes of refugees can and do enter the United States (in a manner that technically is) illegally, but are then granted legal status through a process of seeking and receiving political asylum. For the most part, such persons are fleeing warfare; escaping persecution based on political or religious beliefs; or are victims of torture in their countries of origin. Some asylum cases have been also granted based on sexual orientation or gender, where cultural norms of the home country create and sustain conditions that make life unsafe or unbearable for the individual.

See Also

External Links


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
Modified by Geona