Immigration in United States 

Immigration in United States                         

            The work of Gerdes (2005) shows that immigration in United States occurred in four stages: during colonization period, mid 19th, beginning of 20th centuries and after 1965. The stages brought different groups of immigrants to America. Over 400,000 people migrated to America during the 17th century, European immigrants constituted more than half of the migrating ethnicities between 17th and 18th centuries. In the 19th century, United States experienced high number of immigrants from north part of Europe. In Foner (2009) states that most people migrating to the country during the 20th century were from east and south parts of European countries and that mostly Asians and Latin American citizen migrated to America after 1965.

Research by In Foner (2009) shows that the European immigrants who went to America from 1600 to 1799 were less than one million. 1790 Act only allowed immigration of white people to America but it was later revised to include black persons in 1860s. Asians were allowed to migrate to the country after the expansion of the act in 1950s. Immigration in United States was less than 8000 persons in the early years which started increasing at a higher rate from 1820. More than thirty million European people migrated to America between 1836 and 1914. The death rate of the immigrants was high and as Loucky, Armstrong and Estrada (2006) postulate, one person in every group of seven died. The country passed the first law concerning immigration in 1875. Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882 by the American congress that excluded all immigrants from China following California Gold Rush by the Chinese immigrants. Chinese were allowed to migrate to America from 1943 after repeal of the law. Immigration from Asia became common in the late 1800.

Turning to Loucky, Armstrong and Estrada (2006), one finds that the immigrants from European countries was at peak in 1907 when 1,285,349 people entered into America and in 1910, more than thirteen million immigrants were living in the country. Emergency Quota Act was passed by the American congress in 1921 and then Immigration Act in 1924 that was aimed at restricting southern and Eastern Europe immigrants entering the country in large number since 1890s. The act also consolidated Asian immigration prohibition. According to a research by Haugen, Musser and Lovelace (2009) citizens from Californian requested for the amendment of the American constitution by passing proposition 187 that would deny financial help to immigrants without legal documents.

Between 2000 and 2005, almost eight million people immigrated to America in which 47 percent entered illegally (Haugen, Musser & Lovelace, 2009). Seven amnesties were passed by the congress since 1986 for dealing with immigrants that had no documents for immigration. Most immigrants lost their occupations in the country during the recession in the late 2000s but later posted 656,000 jobs net gain after the end of recession in 2009.

As Gerdes (2005) perceptively states, increased number of immigrants to the United States had a negative impact on the environment. High number of immigrants especially in the southwest parts of the country has raised fear about pressures by the population on the supply of water in some parts. The department of water resources in California stated that more water supply was needed before or by 2020 to cater for high growth rate of the population. Zolberg and Russell Sage Foundation (2008) point out that there exist challenges in terms of wealth distribution between US citizen employees and illegal immigrants employed in America. Immigration according to In Foner (2009) has detrimental impacts on African-American employment in terms of number of employees and low salaries that can create conflict among the immigrating groups. A study by Smith and Stares (2007) indicates that increase in the number of workforce by ten percent reduced the salary of the employees in the group by almost two percent and also raised the rate of unemployment by more than 5.5 percent.

The work of Loucky, Armstrong and Estrada (2006) reveal that competition of economic goods among the American and immigrant groups plays a role in creating conflict. Competition among different ethnic groups in the United States for economic resources predates the country’s civil war. There has been conflict among Irish and African American workers because the Irish who were not educated and did not possess the skills just like the African American entered the country at large numbers. Hsu (2010) has drawn attention to the fact that conflict among groups in the United States between 1840s and 1850s was as as a result of pressure in competition that was brought by low cost workers. Anderson (2010) argues that African American educated and semi-educated workers were replaced at the time of reconstruction by the immigrants whenever the supply increased. African American workers were only considered when immigrant workers were limiting or cut off.

Reference to Powell (2007) reveals that competition for political positions and status by the immigrant causes conflict. The conflict from status competition growth and prosperity in the economy when the emerging ethnicities bring strains with groups established earlier. African American holding high positions in the offices are declining while that of immigrants is increasing. Weber and Jentleson (2010) record that; rise in the number of immigrants continues to change the social and political complexion of America.


Anderson, S. (2010). Immigration. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood pub.

Gerdes, L. I. (2005). Immigration. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press.

Haugen, D. M., Musser, S., & Lovelace, K. (2009). Immigration. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.

Hsu, R. (2010). Ethnic Europe: Mobility, identity, and conflict in a globalized world. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

In Foner, N. (2009). Across generations: Immigrant families in America. New York: New York University Press.

Loucky, J., Armstrong, J., & Estrada, L. J. (2006). Immigration in America today: An encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Powell, J. (2007). Immigration. New York: Facts on File. N.p.

Smith, H., & Stares, P. B. (2007). Diasporas in conflict: Peace-makers or peace-wreckers? Tokyo: United Nations University Press.

Weber, S., & Jentleson, B. W. (2010). The end of arrogance: America in the global competition of ideas. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Zolberg, A. R., & Russell Sage Foundation. (2008). A nation by design: Immigration policy in the fashioning of America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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