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Prevention of Immigration

Essay by review  •  February 3, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,147 Words (9 Pages)  •  912 Views

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Prevention of Immigration

The Declaration of Independence, an important political and legal document states that. “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”(ushistory). The United States was built upon these fundamentals, but these ideas were contradicted by President Bush who created tougher laws and policies for immigrants. The first amendment was violated when President Bush passed the patriot act. The tough immigration laws and policies that are enabled today is similar to the harsh discrimination and treatment the Chinese immigrants faced during their entrance to the United States. The Chinese immigrants faced many hardships during their entrance to the” land of the free” because like America today, the government during that time had many laws and acts that made it almost impossible to immigrate to the United States. The United States passed laws such as; the Chinese Exclusion Act in fear of the Chinese immigrants that entered the country because they believed that these immigrants posed a threat to American society. This same fear exists in present day United States with the passing of the immigration bill and patriot act that the President enforces to hinder the already difficult process to enter this country.

Mass immigration started during the 1890’s and ended during 1913; this time period is called the progressive era. During this period it is estimated that twenty two million immigrants entered the United States (Katz 8). The groups of people that immigrated to this country consisted of: Chinese, Hungarian, French, German, Irish, Italian, Syrian, Jewish, Turkish, Russian, Armenian, Greek and also Finnish (Wills53). Many of these immigrants came to United States in search of political, social and economical freedom that this faithful country has to offer. These immigrants were misunderstood and mistreated by the American citizens that inhabitant the country.

The working American citizens feared immigration because of the competition that had been created by their existence in America. During the 1900 the average female Polish American earned up to three dollars or less a week (Katz 38). This was only one group of people’s weekly income. The immigrants worked for lower wages than the working American citizens did. Many immigrants that had come to this land came for economic opportunity. The reason why they worked for low wages is because they would make more money in United States than they would in their home country. Not all of the jobs that American citizens had were being taken by immigrants.

The Americans feared immigrants due to the fact they took away the jobs for lower wages, however that was not the case in the southwestern states. In these southwestern states many Mexican immigrants had settled there to take the jobs that many Americans would not take. From 1900 to 1930 around 700,000 Mexicans came to United States for hopes of a better life. They often took jobs at factories or had food related jobs (Chambers 34). The agricultural jobs were looked down upon by the Americans and they did not work in this line of field. The agricultural jobs of the south was an equal opportunity for both American citizens and immigrants, however American citizens did not wish to fill these jobs.

Americans feared immigration because of their customs, cultures and religion they brought with them. The government in response to this fear of immigration set up “gateways” to screen the immigrants that entered the United States. One gateway is located in New York; Ellis Island. Upon arrival on this island the immigrants had to go through a series of tests which would take up to an average of five hours. They would be screened for mental and physical disabilities and also checked for any infectious diseases. About ninety percent of the immigrants would pass this part and proceed to the next test. In the next part of the test the United States Immigration officer would ask twenty nine questions to each adult immigrant. Common questions asked were name, age, occupation and they were also asked to prove they knew basic literacy in either English or their native language (Wills 48). Many of these laws look like to protect American ideals, but the Immigration officers that are suppose to enforce these laws would often discriminated against the incoming immigrants. Many of the officers would deny people by their physical appearance, if the officer did not approve of the appearance of a certain person that person would be denied passage to United States. If any immigrant had even a minor criminal offense they were not gained entrance to the country. To prevent people of poor backgrounds to enter America, the government made steamship companies pay for the return passage of immigrants who were denied entry. This made it difficult for people who were poor to enter these steamships because they had to pay more money and had to have proper documentation or else they will not be allowed to enter the ship (Chambers 92). Americans feared immigrants and wanted actions taken to stop or limit the immigrant population entering the United States.

United States government had passed many acts to slow down and in some cases to stop immigrants to enter their country. During the mid 1800’s large number of Chinese immigrants poured into west in states like California and Oregon. Upon their settlement in the west they took jobs that dealt with the creation of the railroads. The Chinese had a big hand in the creation of the western half of the railroad. The transcontinental railroad was an important advancement that the United States had ever achieved. This invention had connected the union of states by increasing trade, commerce, and transportation. The transcontinental railroad serves an important purpose, but the people who created this important piece of work where not given the proper recognition. Instead the one of the groups that heavily contributed to the creation of the transcontinental railroad where not allowed to enter the country anymore after 1882. The reason why Chinese were not allowed to enter United States is because congress approved the Chinese Exclusion act. This completely stopped the immigration of Chinese into the United States, and this ban last for about sixty years (Lee 84). The Chinese were one of the many groups that were mistreated and stopped from entering the United States. The United States passed these laws out of the fear of immigrants and this is because they were simply different than Americans. Americans were not use to foreign culture, customs or rituals and so the fear came out of ignorance. The same ideals and principals that the government officials

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