Immigration the immigration stations aren’t even included in

Immigration to America from another
country was a very scary and overwhelming process. The individuals who packed
their belongings and left their home countries in order to obtain more
freedoms, opportunities, and new lives for themselves and their families, were
quite remarkable to say the least. Immigrants in American history have always
faced obstacles; they have been discriminated against, mistreated, labeled,
stereotyped, forced to work the worst jobs, forced to accept the lowest pay,
and they were faced with many other disadvantages, but they kept on, as
perseverance has always been one of the most notable traits that immigrants
obtain. Immigrants have truly cultivated society into what it has become today
and without their work ethics, persevering attitudes, and strong-willed minds,
the nation wouldn’t truly be able to call itself America, which has always been
a place of freedom and opportunity. Though immigrants have faced many

Some ways that immigrants entered
America was through the main port cities. Some of these ports included the port
of Boston, San Francisco, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and many others.

Immigrants were able to arrive here thanks mostly to transportation by the
steamship. The most popular and very well-known “immigration station” included
the bustling Ellis Island, located in the port of New York City. Between
1880-1930, almost 30 million immigrants entered America (12 million of the 27
million who entered the country, entered through Ellis Island). Undocumented immigrants
that arrived before the creation of the immigration stations aren’t even
included in this number, especially since even the first American settlers
themselves were fleeing prosecution from England, and found refuge in this

However, entering America as an
immigrant was a lengthy and tedious process. Immigrants went through many
screening tests in which government employees and physicians inspected them for
any transmittable diseases, their mental health, their intent to enter the
country, and other personal questions that were tailored to the type of
immigrant. The reason the process was quite lengthy was simply because the
employees who managed the immigration stations (who worked for the government
as these structures were government funded), wanted to protect the country from
those who had any intent to harm themselves or others after arrival. They
decided to make this screening mandatory as for the most part, immigrants came
to America in large waves of people. Thanks to the Naturalization Act passed in
1790, (, white, free, male immigrants were able
to become citizens of the U.S. after two years of being accepted into the
country (though it was not perfect as it left out indentured servants, slaves,
and women, it was a step in the right direction to giving immigrant’s rights).

An event that attracted many
immigrants to America was Westward expansion (or Manifest Destiny). In Westward
expansion, many immigrants found work constructing railroads throughout the country.

After hearing word of the Gold Rush in California, the West became even more of
an adventure for immigrants and Americans alike ( During
periods when America had a prospering economy, immigrants were welcomed and
relied on for their hard work and tenacity with the goal of accumulating money
to support their families. It is stated that, “In 1863, despite the extra
workers’ tax and the raging Civil War, the Central Pacific hired Chinese
laborers to construct the first transcontinental railroad. The Union Pacific,
meanwhile, hired mainly Irish laborers, and by 1869, both lines had met at
Promontory Summit, Utah. Continuous train travel from coast to coast was now
possible.” Sadly, as expressed by the political party in the 1850’s, the Know-Nothings,
immigrants were just in the country to steal jobs from Americans. In actuality,
many groups of immigrants had very good reasoning for coming into the country;
they weren’t there to just steal from the American public. For example,
Mexicans fled from their home country to America after being victimized by the
Mexican Revolution in 1917 (, Armenian families were desperate for
refuge due to the Armenian Massacre in Turkey (in which over one million people
were murdered throughout 1914-1923)(, Irish
immigrants looked for safety in America as there was a Potato Famine in Ireland
(in which over 1.5 million people were killed between the years of 1840-1850) (

But even when these individuals arrived at America, they did not live easy
lives in the slightest.

As previously stated, immigrants
came in massive numbers some years, but other years, they trickled in slowly.

In 1907, for example, roughly 1.25 million immigrants traveled into America,
and after being processed, began their new lives. Immigrants fled to America
when tragedies struck in their home countries (there was a massive influx of
500,000 Irish immigrants in the 1840’s and 1850’s; when the Potato Famine was
occurring). To jump forward in time, during the 1940’s and 1950’s, America
faced a “Red Scare”, in which skeptics emerged who accused individuals
(especially those who were entering the country) of being Communist. This was a
very scary accusation as America was in the Cold War between the Soviet Union
(a Communist nation) at this time. Due to the Red Scare, only 225,206
immigrants entered America, which was considered to be a deficit in terms of
the grand scheme of immigration through Ellis Island.

The first immigrants to enter the
country were mainly from areas such as Germany, Scandinavia, England, Ireland,
mad many other European countries. Later on, immigrants began flocking to the
United States from countries mostly from Southern and Eastern Europe. Sadly,
entering the country began to become increasingly harder over time. Nativists
emerged from the moment that immigrants began entering the country. As sad as
it is to recall, discrimination existed everywhere. The Asian immigrants
specifically, had a very hard time assimilating to the culture. This was
because many acts were passed against them, including the Chinese Exclusion Act
(created in 1882), which placed a 10-year prohibition on Chinese immigration
into the states. A gentleman’s agreement was made with Japan in the early 1900’s,
which deepened resentment of the Asian immigrants and made it even harder for
those who previously entered the country to connect with their families, who
were supposed to have met them after some stability was obtained. After World
War I in 1914, the Asian immigrants were not the only ones who became excluded.

Immigration began to become a negative process in the eyes of American’s and
suspicious attitudes regarding foreigners developed. Nationalism surged in
America, and many laws were passed to limit the number of immigrants allowed to
find refuge in the United States.

When immigrants came into the
country, they flocked to large cities, where they could easily find jobs in the
textile, steel, coal, and automobile industries. Due to this surge in economic
profit and the increase in the work force, the United States became known as
one of the “economic powerhouses” ( The workers lives were not as
prosperous however. Immigrants were payed very low wages and were crammed into
apartments and tenement houses, in which there was no running water, poor
ventilation, and extremely unsanitary conditions. Due to these said conditions,
disease spread quickly and spread to massive amounts of the people that lived
in these shabby spaces, the immigrants. A downside to immigration is the
surplus of homeless children; known as Street Arabs, the children begged on the
streets and had nowhere to go as they were either abandoned (because immigrants
got paid so little and couldn’t afford anything) or, they got lost in a new
city (because their parents would be working so much that they would have
little to no supervision).

Some Americans, however, saw the
necessity to help these immigrants and did their part to step in. Jane Addams,
for example, created a home known as the Hull House. The Hull House created an
area in which poor immigrants were offered services (such as a service where their
children would be watched while they worked 14-hour work days), or even
opportunities for education or speech therapy.

As time rolled on, the Great
Depression was a huge factor which forcibly made immigrants return to their
home countries, sometimes against their own will. This was because the idea
that immigrants stole jobs was still having a profound impact on some
Americans. Even in World War II, when refugees were crying out for help from
Nazi persecution, many were turned away due to the restrictive laws and
nativist attitudes. When the United states went into World War II, immigrants
who were there for years were punished if their nationality was affiliated with
that of the Central Powers (including Germany, Italy, Japan, etc.) For example,
an Enemy Alien Control Program was created to find and detain immigrants whose’
nationalities were affiliated with that of the central powers. Over 11,000
Germans (many who were deemed to be ultra-nationalists for Germany but who were
actually Americans with a German great-grandparent for example) were detained
during the war to “protect the public”. Italian immigrants and
Italian-Americans were also detained by this same group. They had to carry I.D,
their travel was restricted, more than 1600 were arrested, and more than 250
were placed in military camps. However, these groups did not suffer half as
much as the Japanese did under “Executive Order 9066” which stated that
Japanese-Americans or direct Japanese immigrants had to be forcibly moved into
WCAA centers (Wartime Civil Control Administration Assembly Centers) because of
the bombing in pearl harbor in 1942. The executive order forced Japanese
individuals to leave their homes and go into internment camps, while many
didn’t do anything to provoke this punishment, but were rather imprisoned for
their ethnicity.

conclusion, immigrants have faced many acts of hardship and discrimination in
America. Due to their persevering attitudes however, we have formed the America
that thrives as a unified nation today. If not for immigrants, Americans would
not be exposed to the many wonderful cultures, traditions, goods, ideas, and
many other premises that diversifies it today. Though immigrants faced a long
and hard struggle to get the respect that they earned, they finally have, and
they currently make up 13.5 and 11.7 percent of the American population
(foreign born immigrants and American born citizens with a foreign-born
parent). It has been stated that “Immigrants make up significant shares of the
U.S. workforce in a range of industries, accounting for over 41 percent of all
farming, fishing, and forestry workers—as well as nearly 25 percent of those
working in computer and math sciences. As workers, business owners, taxpayers,
and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of the country’s diverse and
thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.” (, which truly encapsulates the
importance of immigrants in American society today and reminds us of the feats
that they accomplished 100 years ago.   


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