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Immigration Timeline

I live in Queens, New York, the most ethnically diverse county in the United States. My family came here from Russia, Romania and Poland between 1890 and 1920. Had they not emigrated here, I would likely have never been born. For that reason I’m very sensitive regarding restriction of immigration. There but for the grace of G-d go I.

The Arizona Immigration bill brings to mind the idea of Jews being forced to wear The Star of David in Europe. This isn’t unique to Mexicans. But you’d think that we would have learned from our mistakes. Below is a vague timeline of the history of immigration in the US.

American Immigration Timeline: http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/content/2313/2313_imigratingdreams_timeline.pdf

1492: Columbus reaches the Americas, followed by other European explorers.

The voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492 led to extensive European colonization of the Americasand the genocide of its inhabitants. Columbus came at a time in which many technical developments in sailing techniques and communication made it possible to report his voyages easily and to spread word of them throughout western Europe. It was also a time of growing economic rivalries that led to a competition for the establishment of colonies.
The mass death of the Native Americans from slavery, disease and war led to severe changes in the population and ethnic identity of America's inhabitants. The slave labor of Americans killed by European incursions was replaced by that of sub-Saharan African peoples through the slave trade. Native populations became increasingly minor as the European and African slave populations grew rapidly. The dominance of White Americans continued through the period of widespread independence from European rule, begun in the late 18th century by the United States.

1502: Africans are brought as slaves to the island of Hispanola (present-day Dominican Republic/Haiti) by the Spanish, with 10 million enslaved Africans to follow and arrive on American shores.

Beginning at least as early as 1502, European slave traders shipped approximately 11 to 16 million slaves to the Americas, including 500,000 to what is now the United States. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, slaves could be found in every area colonized by Europeans. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/modules/slavery/index.cfm

1607: First permanent English colony built in Jamestown, Virginia.

In all, 214 people set sail for America. They reached it on May 14, 1607. Very soon after they landed, the English found themselves under attack from Algonquins, a Native American tribe who had been living in that area for some time and who didn't exactly welcome new settlers. The English managed to drive off the attackers, who came back every now and then. The English, however, were there to stay.
Under the leadership of Captain John Smith, the English built a fort and other buildings designed to protect their new colony. They also found friendly Native Americans, like Powhatan, who was willing to trade with them.
The terrible winter of 1609 convinced most of the settlers to abandon their new life, however. Only 60 of the 214 settlers survived this harsh winter, which was also hard on Powhatan's tribe and other neighboring Native Americans.

1619: First Africans arrive at Jamestown, Virginia, as indentured servants.

1700-1776: First big immigrant wave: Europeans, mostly English, arrive in large numbers.

The population of the American Colonies, until the end of the 17th century, was almost entirely English. Except for the Dutch in New York, the English population had managed to maintain or impose their institutions on all other competing cultures. The 18th century saw the arrival of large numbers of Swedes, Germans, Swiss, Scotch-Irish, Africans and other cultures as they arrived or were brought into the colonies.
Colonial Immigration: An overview http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/colonial_america_retired/32260#ixzz0mmg3sEuj

1750: Population reaches more than one million.

1790: Population reaches almost four million.

1808: Congress makes it illegal to bring slaves to the United States.

1820-1870: Second big immigrant wave: About 7.5 million arrive, mainly from northern and western Europe (especially Great Britain, Ireland, and western Germany).

Emigrating to the U.S. wasn't the magical solution for most of the immigrants. Peasants arrived without resources, or capital to start farms or businesses. Few of them ever accumulated the resources to make any meaningful choice about their way of life. Fortunately for them, the expansion of the American economy created heavy demands for muscle grunt. The great canals, which were the first links in the national transportation system were still being dug in the 1820s and 1830s, and in the time between 1830 and 1880, thousands of miles of rail were being laid. With no bulldozers existing at the time, the pick and the shovel were the only earth-moving equipment at the time. And the Irish laborers were the mainstay of the construction gangs that did this grueling work. In towns along the sites of work, groups of Irish formed their small communities to live in. By the middle of the nineteenth century, as American cities were undergoing rapid growth and beginning to develop an infrastructure and creating the governmental machinery and personnel necessary to run it, the Irish and their children got their first foothold- on the ground floor. Irish policemen and firemen are not just stereotypes: Irish all but monopolized those jobs when they were being created in the post-Civil War years, and even today Irish names are clearly over-represented in those occupations (Daniels, 1990). Irish workmen not only began laying the horsecar and streetcar tracks, but were some of the first drivers and conductors. The first generations worked largely at unskilled and semiskilled occupations, but their children found themselves working at increasingly skilled trades. By 1900, when Irish American mend made up about a thirteenth of the male labor force, they were almost a third of the plumbers, steamfitters, and boilermakers. Industry working Irish soon found themselves lifted up into boss and straw-boss positions as common laborers more and more arrived from southern and eastern Europe- Italians, Slavs, and Hungarians.

1840: Wave of Irish immigrants arrives, escaping famine because of potato crop failure.

1848: Discovery of gold results in Chinese and Latin American immigrants coming to the west coast.
The Chinaman was welcomed as long as the surface gold was plentiful enough to make rich all who came. But that happy situation was not long to continue. Thousands of Americans came flocking in to the mines. Rich surface claims soon became exhausted. These newcomers did not find it so easy as their predecessors had done to amass large fortunes in a few days. California did not fulfil the promise of the golden tales that had been told of her. These gold-seekers were disappointed. In the bitterness of their disappointment they turned upon the men of other races who were working side by side with them and accused them of stealing their wealth. They boldly asserted that California’s gold belonged to them. The cry of “California for the Americans” was raised and taken up on all sides.
Within a short time the Frenchman, the Mexican and the Chileño had been driven out and the full force of this anti-foreign persecution fell upon the unfortunate Chinaman. From the beginning, though well received, the Chinese had been a race apart. Their peculiar dress and pigtail marked them off from the rest of the population. Their camps at the mines were always apart from the main camps of white miners. This made it the easier to turn upon them this hatred of outsiders. With the great inrush of gold-seekers the abandoned claims which the Chinese had been working, again became desirable to the whites and the Chinese were driven from them with small concern. Where might made right the peaceable Chinaman had little chance.

The state legislature was wholly in sympathy with the anti-foreign movement, and as early as 1850 passed the Foreign Miners’ License law. This imposed a tax of twenty dollars a month on all foreign miners. Instead of bringing into the state treasury the revenue promised by its framers, this law had the effect of depopulating some camps and of seriously injuring all of them. San Francisco became overrun with penniless foreigners and their care became a serious problem. The law was conceded to be a failure and was repealed the following year. http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist6/chinhate.html

Third big immigrant wave: Nearly 23.5 million arrive, mainly from southern and eastern Europe
(especially Austro-Hungary, Italy, and Russia).

The wave of the first massive immigration from Eastern Europe in 1880-s - see article Three Waves of Massive Polish Immigrationcoincided with the increase in instability in the USA. This was a time of the industrialization, urbanization and political corruption accompanied by more crime, strikes, prostitution, welfare etc.
For many Americans it was natural to blame immigrants from Southeastern Europe for the increasing problems. Especially since it was a time of the turmoil and increase of racial theories in science after Darvin's evolution theory was published.

This is how the Anglo-Saxon Myth was created. 'Intellectuals like John Fiske, college professors, scientists and others promoted the idea that the process of evolution had culminated in the "Anglo-Saxon race" which was far superior to any other race on the planet. Such thinkers claimed that more "primitive" races (i.e., any "race" that didn't originate in northwestern Europe) did not possess the mental, physical, or social capacities of "Anglo-Saxons." The "Anglo-Saxons" or "Teutons" or "Aryans" were responsible for all the finer points of civilization. "Scientific evidence" of the superiority of the "Anglo-Saxon race" was hardly evidence at all; for instance, some believed the angle of slope on the human forehead was a reliable indicator of human intelligence. "Anglo-Saxons" were more likely to have a high forehead with a more vertical angle of slope than other races; therefore, "scientists" conjectured that "Anglo-Saxons" were necessarily more intelligent.' (Ref. 1). The other were arguing that since Anglo-Saxons were the first to build this country they should protect themselves from the influx of the strangers.

The restrictions on immigration were imposed gradually. In 1882 the law excluded people likely to become public charges. In 1985 the immigration of contract laborer was prohibited (1885). A literacy bill was passed by Congress in 1897, but President Grover Cleveland vetoed it so it was passed again in 1917. The immigrants from outside the Europe were subjected to even worse restrictions than these from Southestern Europe. In 1882 the Congress enacted the Chinese Exclusion Act barring Chinese immigration for 10 years. This act was extended in 1892. According to a Gentlemen's Agreement of 1907-1908, Japan agreed to halt further immigration to the USA but under the condition that the USA would end Japanese discrimination. http://culture.polishsite.us/articles/art43fr.htm

1882: Chinese Exclusion Act is passed to prevent Chinese workers from immigrating.

In the spring of 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Chester A. Arthur. This act provided an absolute 10-year moratorium on Chinese labor immigration. For the first time, Federal law proscribed entry of an ethnic working group on the premise that it endangered the good order of certain localities.

1886: Statue of Liberty is unveiled.

The New Colossus, by Emma Lazerus.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
' With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

1892: Ellis Island opens.

1900: Population reaches 76 million.

1907: One million immigrants pass through Ellis Island in one year.

1914: World War I inspires strong anti-immigration feelings.

1917: Congress requires immigrants to pass literacy tests.

The 1917 Immigration Act increased the entry head tax to $8. People who were now excluded from the United States included: "all idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons, epileptics, insane persons; persons who have had one or more attacks of insanity at any time previously; persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority; persons with chronic alcoholism; paupers; professional beggars; vagrants; persons afflicted with tuberculosis in any form or with a loathsome or dangerous contagious disease; persons not comprehended within any of the foregoing excluded classes who are found to be and are certified by the examining surgeon as being mentally or physically defective, such physical defect being of a nature which may affect the ability of such alien to earn a living; persons who have been convicted of or admit having committed a felony or other crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude; polygamists, or persons who practice polygamy or believe in or advocate the practice of polygamy; anarchists, or persons who believe in or advocate the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States".

The most controversial aspect to the act was the proposal to exclude all "aliens over sixteen years of age, physically capable of reading, who cannot read the English language, or some other language or dialect, including Hebrew or Yiddish." Attempts at introducing literacy tests had been vetoed by Grover Cleveland in 1891 and William Taft in 1913. President Woodrow Wilson also objected to this clause in the 1917 Immigration Act but it was still passed by Congress.
The 1924 Immigration Act was even more restrictive. Under this act only around 150,000 were permitted to enter the United States. As one of its critics, Emanuel Celler, pointed out: "We were afraid of foreigners; we distrusted them; we didn't like them. Under this act only some one hundred and fifty odd thousands would be permitted to enter the United States. If you were of Anglo-Saxon origin, you could have over two-thirds of the quota numbers allotted to your people. If you were Japanese, you could not come in at all. That, of course, had been true of the Chinese since 1880. If you were southern or eastern European, you could dribble in and remain on sufferance."

1924: Congress limits number of immigrants by nationality, including southern and eastern Europe.

Northwest Europe and Scandinavia Eastern and Southern Europe Other Countries
Country Quota Country Quota Country Quota
Germany 51,227 Poland 5,982 Africa (other than Egypt) 1,100
Great Britain and Northern Ireland 34,007 Italy 3,845 Armenia 124
Irish Free State (Ireland) 28,567 Czechoslovakia 3,073 Australia 121
Sweden 9,561 Russia 2,248 Palestine 100
Norway 6,453 Yugoslavia 671 Syria 100
France 3,954 Romania 603 Turkey 100
Denmark 2,789 Portugal 503 Egypt 100
Switzerland 2,081 Hungary 473 New Zealand & Pacific Islands 100
Netherlands 1,648 Lithuania 344 All others 1,900
Austria 785 Latvia 142
Belgium 512 Spain 131
Finland 471 Estonia 124
Free City of Danzig 228 Albania 100
Iceland 100 Bulgaria 100
Luxembourg 100 Greece 100

Total (Number) 142,483 Total (Number) 18,439 Total (Number) 3,745
Total (%) 86.5 Total (%) 11.2 Total (%) 2.3

(Total Annual immigrant quota: 164,667)

1930-1964: Immigration declines due to restrictive laws, the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War.

1945: Puerto Ricans begin to arrive in large numbers.

1954: Ellis Island closes, marking an end to mass immigration.

1965: Immigration Act of 1965 ends quotas (number limit) based on nationality. Immigration from Asia and West Indies increases.

1986: Immigration Reform and Control Act forbids hiring of illegal immigrants; helps them become legal


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 2nd, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
Razing Arizona
First of all legal and illegal immigration are two different things. Secondly, those who are fleeing from terror and dehumanizing behavior are welcome in this counrty. It's not like we don't let anyone in legally.

One of the many problems with this subject is that people seem to jump to extreme conclusions when someone simply states their beliefs. I am a middle of the roader. I understand that their are many sides to every story and situation and wish that others would do the same instead of assuming that which is irrelevant. I am not a racist whatsoever. I don't give a damn what color of skin or which god someone prays to, if they come here illegally. well, it's not legal for them to be here. I am a realist. We cannot take on the burden of so many illegal aliens wants and needs while so many citizens are in sure dire straights. And before you say that the immigrants have it worse you must keep in mind that it is not a matter of degree of hardship, this is all relative. If you are hungry when you go to bed and are hungry when you wake up it doesn't matter if your wage is a dollar a day in Mexico or five dollars a day here.

What people are forgetting or not realizing in the first place is that what changed was that the police were now given the ability to arrest a lawbreaker whereas they had no recourse but to deal it out to the overburdened INS. There are reasons for immigration laws and all countries have them. And by the way, one way that police can reasonably assume that someone is here illegally is if they congregate in an area that is known for illegal employment by anyone with eyes.

The fact is that when a society becomes overburdened with illegal immigrants it acts much like introducing a non-native plant, animal, etc. to an existing ecosystem. Even if that ecosystem was robust and diverse, a change in population, temperature, waste production, food chain, everything is at risk. A population boom within he ecosystem alone could spell disaster but a carefull system of checks and balances exists in order to keep the harmony.

As for my favorite inacurate argument of the pro immigrationists is that illegals are taking the jobs that Americans do not want. Well there are a few major holes in that argument. First of all, the American workers would love those jobs if they were paid fairly for doing them. The problem with this is that the business' have an alternative source of cheap and dispensible labor. Another problem is that this view is extremely short sighted. If people are coming to this country to make a better life for their children that means that the future generations of the illegals will be taking the jobs that would otherwise go to someone whose parents are taxpaying citizens.

Another argument of course is that their government is corrupt, there are no jobs, and they want a better life for themselves and their families. Here are some more important impacts on our citizenry but worse, keeps their homelands in a cycle of poverty and corruption. If you have a bad government you must work to change it not keep running away from it. How are any problems to be sovled if there is no one there to solve them? Creation of jobs, government, infrastructure do not just happen by themselves or overnight. If you abandon your country in hard times then the good times may never come.

May. 2nd, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Razing Arizona
I don't think that anybody can objectively say that there aren't two sides to the issue.

Do we close the doors now that we are here? As an Attorney (not immigration, but specialties do cross) I've seen first hand, that since 9/11, there are considerable restriction on legal immigration.

On the other hand, how much can we handle?

I go back to the thought, that if there had been similar restrictions in 1890, I would not be alive.
May. 2nd, 2010 04:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Razing Arizona
I agree that there are plenty of sides to the issue. I honestly do not know if you would have made it or not but I do know that there have been many people who were saved and continue to be saved by seeking or applying for assylum. Let us also not forget that trying to relate any two situations, let alone the many differences between now and the begingin of the last century, is difficult if not immpossible. Comparing legal immigration and illegal immigration, immigration during war time versus times of peace, what countries they are from is a daunting if not impossible task and sure to be rife with conjecture and opinion.

Also, I lived in El Paso when the attakcs happen and I am originally from New York. When I found out that some of the terrorists on that plane came over through Mexico I was not surprised. When we used to go there to drink in college we didn't need a passport to go either into Mexico or to return. Yes, they searched most if not all cars and did have boarder control officers and were able to keep the boarder somewhat secure. I think that we can most likely agree that simply having to show a passport, as is now the law, at the boarder of any country is not only customary but just makes sense. I appriciate your insights and enjoy sharing ideas with you even if we don't see eye to eye on this particular issue.
May. 2nd, 2010 04:53 pm (UTC)
Re: Razing Arizona
Thank you.

Yours is an intelligent discussion, with valid points.

The only way that we continue to learn is by listening to another point of view , when stated in a calm, rational manner. I welcome your comments.
May. 2nd, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC)
Can't Be
A rational and open-minded debator? Now I've seen everything. I'm gonna keep an eye on your posts for sure and look forward to some back and forth.
May. 2nd, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Can't Be
I used to post regularly on political site. I foolishly did so today. You can't have a rational discussion there. That goes for the right as well as the left.

I have a lot of friends who agree with me. Nearly as many who disagree with me. At the end of a debate, we remain friends.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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