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In the century before the American Revolution, there was a major wave of free and indentured labor from England and other parts of Europe as well as large-scale importation of slaves from Africa and the Caribbean.

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Although some level of immigration has been continuous throughout American history, there have been two epochal periods: During some of the peak years of immigration in the early s, about one million immigrants arrived annually, which was more than one percent of the total US population at the time. In the early twenty-first century, there have been a few years with more than one million legal immigrants, but with a total US population of almost million, the relative impact is much less than it was in the early part of the twentieth century.

The first impact of immigration is demographic. The 70 million immigrants who have arrived since the founding of the republic formal records have only been kept since are responsible for the majority of the contemporary American population. The one segment of the American population with the longest record of historical settlement are African Americans.

Almost all African Americans are the descendants of seventeenth- or eighteenth-century arrivals. Early in the twentieth century, when immigration from southern and eastern Europe was at its peak, many old-stock Americans sought to preserve the traditional image of the country as primarily composed of descendants from northwest Europe, especially of English Protestant stock. The first American census in , shortly after the formation of the United States, counted a bit less than 4 million people, of whom at least 20 per cent were of African descent.

The estimates of the non-English-origin population in range from 20 to 40 per cent. In May , there were three days of rioting in Kensington, an Irish suburb of Philadelphia, which culminated in the burning of two Catholic churches and other property. The rising tide of nativism — the fear of foreigners — had deep roots in anti-Catholicism and a fear of foreign radicals.

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The Immigration Restriction League, founded by young Harvard-educated Boston Brahmins in , advocated a literacy test to slow the tide of immigration. Cities, where most immigrants settled, were derided and feared as places filled with dangerous people and radical ideas. While some reformers, such as Jane Adams, went to work to alleviate the many problems of urban slums, others, such as Henry Adams, the descendent of two American presidents and a noted man of letters, expressed virulent nativism and anti-Semitism. The Chinese Exclusion Act of was the first step toward a closed society.

From the s to the s, a diverse set of groups, ranging from the old-line New England elites and the Progressive Movement in the Midwest to the Ku Klux Klan, led a campaign to halt undesirable immigrants from Europe.

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Passing the national origins quotas in the early s was intended to exclude everyone from Asia and Africa and to sharply lower the numbers of arrivals from southern and eastern Europe. The period from to , when a highly restrictive immigration policy was in place, was exceptional in American history. For those who were reared in this era, it might seem that the high levels of immigration experienced during the last three decades of the twentieth century are unusual.

However, high levels of immigration characterized most of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as well as the first two decades of the twentieth. The impact of the Amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act, also known as the Hart-Cellar Act, was a surprise to policy makers and many experts. The primary intent of the Act was to repeal the national origin quotas enacted in the s, which were considered discriminatory by the children and grandchildren of southern and eastern European immigrants.

The advocates of reform in the s were not pushing for a major new wave of immigration. Their expectation was that there would be a small increase of arrivals from Italy, Greece, and a few other European countries as families that were divided by the immigration restrictions of the s were allowed to be reunited, but that no long-term increase would result.

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  8. The new criteria for admission under the Act were family reunification and scarce occupational skills. About the same time, and largely independently of the Immigration Act, immigration from Latin America began to rise. Legal and undocumented migration from Mexico surged after a temporary farm-worker programme known as the Bracero Program was shut down in Beginning in the s, there were several waves of Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Hmong refugees following from the collapse of American-supported regimes in Southeast Asia.

    Then in the s, there were new refugees from Central American nations such as Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Each of these streams of immigration as well as refugee inflows has spawned secondary waves of immigration as family members followed. By , there were over 30 million foreign-born persons in the United States, of whom almost one-third arrived in the prior decade.

    The impact of immigration on American society

    Adding together immigrants and their children the second generation , more than 60 million people — or one in five Americans — have recent roots from other countries. American history cannot be separated from the history of immigration. Irish immigrants worked as labourers in cities and were the major source of labour in the construction of transportation networks, including canals, railroads, and roads.

    Some have estimated that the manpower advantage of the Union forces during the Civil War was largely due to immigrants who had settled in the northern states. Immigrants have also played an important role in the transition to an urban industrial economy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Immigrant workers have always been over-represented in skilled trades, mining, and as peddlers, merchants, and labourers in urban areas.

    Immigrants and their children were the majority of workers in the garment sweatshops of New York, the coalfields of Pennsylvania, and the stockyards of Chicago. The cities of America during the age of industrialization were primarily immigrant cities Gibson and Jung In , about three-quarters of the populations of many large cities were composed of immigrants and their children, including New York, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, San Francisco, Buffalo, Milwaukee, and Detroit. Immigrants and their children have also played an important role in modern American politics, for example, in forming the Roosevelt coalition in the s and again in the s with the election of John F.

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    Although Herbert Hoover defeated Al Smith in , a number of scholars have attributed the shift from the Republican dominance of the government in the s to the New Deal coalition of the s to the increasing share, turnout, and partisanship of the urban ethnic vote following several decades of mass immigration Andersen Although the age of mass immigration had ended in the s, the children of immigrants formed 20 percent of the potential electorate in In the decades following the World War II era, white Protestants, and especially middle class white Protestants outside the South, have been the base of the Republican Party, while Catholic and Jewish voters have been disproportionately Democratic.

    Immigrants and their descendants were also important in the development of popular American culture and in creating the positive image of immigration in the American mind. Immigrants and the second generation have played a remarkable role in the American creative arts, including writing, directing, producing, and acting in American films and plays for most of the first half of the twentieth century Buhle ; Gabler ; Most ; Phillips ; Winokur Many Hollywood and Broadway productions have also given us poignant accounts of outsiders who struggle to be understood and accepted.

    Perhaps it is not so surprising that the Statue of Liberty has become the pre-eminent national symbol of the United States Kasinitz From our current vantage point, it is clear that popular beliefs and fears about immigrants in the early twentieth century were completely mistaken. In the early twentieth century, most elites and many social scientists thought that immigrants were overrunning American society.

    The arguments used to restrict continued southern and eastern European immigration in the twentieth century paralleled those made earlier to end Chinese and Japanese immigration in and , respectively. For three decades, the battle over immigration restriction was waged in the court of public opinion and in Congress.

    In , the Dillingham Commission a congressionally appointed commission named after Senator William P. Dillingham of Vermont issued a volume report, which assumed the racial inferiority of the new immigrants from eastern and southern Europe relative to the old-stock immigrants from northwestern Europe.

    Looking backward, we can see that the impacts of the age of mass migration from to were almost entirely opposite to those anticipated by contemporary observers. The Anglo-centric core of the early twentieth century has been largely replaced with a more cosmopolitan America that places Catholicism and Judaism on a par with Protestant denominations, and the Statue of Liberty has become the national symbol of a nation of immigrants. Perhaps the most important legacy of the age of mass migration is that the children of eastern and southern immigrants helped to pave the way for the New Deal of the s, the Great Society of the s, and the Immigration Act that allowed a new wave of immigration from Asia and Latin America to arrive.


    Most go the Army, but some also go to the other military branches. To become citizens, the service members need an honorable service designation, which can come after even just a few days at boot camp. All had signed enlistment contracts and taken an Army oath, Stock said. Therefore, by default, they do not meet the background check requirement. The AP interviewed Calixto and recruits from Pakistan and Iran, all of whom said they were devastated by their unexpected discharges.

    Calixto, who lives in Massachusetts and came to the U. In the suit, Calixto said he learned he was being kicked out soon after he was promoted to private second class. The Pakistani service member who spoke to the AP said he learned in a phone call a few weeks ago that his military career was over.

    He asked that his name be withheld because he fears he might be forced to return to Pakistan, where he could face danger as a former U.

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    Nonetheless, the documents show the Army cited those foreign ties as a concern. He had been slated to ship out to basic training in January , but that also was delayed. An Iranian citizen who came to the U. In a statement, the Defense Department said: The service members affected by the recent discharges all enlisted in recent years under a special program aimed at bringing medical specialists and fluent speakers of 44 sought-after languages into the military. In response, the military layered on additional security clearances for recruits to pass before heading to boot camp.

    The Trump Administration added even more hurdles, creating a backlog within the Defense Department. Last fall, hundreds of recruits still in the enlistment process had their contracts canceled. Many service members recruited through the program have proven to be exemplary. Shrestha, originally from Nepal, was named U. Army Soldier of the Year. In general, the immigrant recruits have been more cost-effective, outperforming their fellow soldiers in the areas of attrition, performance, education and promotions, according to a recently released review by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research institution.