The United States is one of the most desirable countries for migration. The United States were created by colonists from the New World. Till today, each year America accepts more than half a million of legal migrants. The same quantity arrives illegally. All of them desire to live in economic and political stability, with freedoms and equal rights. Their hard work shaped the modern United States. The fact is that America is the core of the world’s migration system.
Keywords: immigration, USA, waves of immigration
Historically, America is a nation formed by immigrants. In general, according to Hasia Diner, the United States had “five main periods in its history and, correspondingly, five periods of immigration” (Hasia 2001).
Discovery of the New World by Columbus caused a massive amount of colonists. It was the first wave of immigration to America from the Old World. The colonists were arriving in the country mainly from Europe. More or less, almost every European state participated in the colonization of the North America. There were settlers from England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal. It was one of the most open for the immigration periods in the history of the United States. During those times, the participants of unsuccessful revolutions of 19th century from Germany, Ireland, France, Russia, Austro-Hungary, Finland, were looking for democratic principles and freedoms. Talking about the first wave of immigration, it is dare to say about millions of slaves from Africa that arrived in the country against their will. In 1619, the first ship with slaves arrived in Jamestown to work on the plantations.
The next period of migration occurred in 1850-1914. It was called the “Age of Mass Migration” (Glynn 14). Unlike the previous period, these years were characterized by the migration not only from Europe, but from China, India and some other states. However, the percentage of immigrant from Central Europe, specifically, from Sweden, Italy and Ireland was the highest. People left their countries because of economical, religious and political reasons (Hasia 2001). As in all times, “Most people departed to escape poverty because of the limited economic opportunities available to them in their home countries” (Glynn 16). According to the history, “Underemployment in agriculture led many Italians to migrate for a short period” (Glynn 17), while Irish migrated in researches of higher wages. Industrialization in Central Europe transformed the economy, in a result many people remained without possibilities. Irish immigration was the first large-scale Catholics’ inflow to the Protestant America. In these years numerous migrants from China arrived to the country. In a result, in 1882, the Act that prohibited immigration from China was adopted (Schwab & Gearhart 2013). In 1891, the United States immigration service was established, and in January 1892, on Ellis Island, New York, opened the immigration point. Its task included identity and health verification of arrived people.
During the third in the history of immigration to the United States wave almost 25 million Europeans arrived in the country. The period was called the flood of immigrants. Most of them were Italians, Hungarians, Greeks, Poles and other Slavic peoples. Almost 3 million of Jews arrived to America because of the aggressive German policy before the beginning of the World War II (Hasia 2001). They settled in the biggest industrial cities and represented the major labor force in the production of coal, steel, in mechanical, textile and clothing industries. These people raised the economy of the United States. The difficult years of the Great Depression left their mark on the immigration to the United States. Million Americans remained without work. During 1930s only around half a million immigrants arrived in the country.
The xenophobic thoughts developed rapidly in those conditions. Americans created new legislation that limited the quantity of immigrants for each country. In 1921, the act of national identification was taken. However, it had not influence in the western part of America, where till 1960s the immigration from Mexico, Jamaica, Barbados, Haiti and other parts of Central and South America continued. This period was characterized by refugees from Nazis in Europe, Communist Eastern Europe and revolutionaries from Cuba.
Since 1970, immigrants from Korea, China, India, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Africa began to arrive, forming the last wave of immigration. It was caused by the act adopted in Parlament that permitted to elevate quotes for these countries. Besides, there was a flow of highly qualified specialists from USSR and other countries.
Today, America remains the most desirable country to live in. It reserved its democratic principles of a society, freedoms and equal possibilities.
If in the first years of its existence, the country was open to almost everyone, with the development of the state appeared the necessity to strengthen the control over quantity of arriving immigrants. Today, America is a country with very strict immigration legislation. The reasons for the large-scale labor migration remain unemployment, more favorable conditions of work in the United States and, of course, high living standards. Besides, Europe began to lose its attraction for immigrants. Many of them leave the European states. This situation is a result of the strengthening of the regulatory policies of Europe against immigrants.
During all history of the United States since the colonial period and until the beginning of the 21 century, people from all over the world stopped their choice on America. Despite the distance and language bearers, differences in cultures and religions, they hope America will become their hostile home. Over time, the perceptions of American culture changed. Immigrants and their descendants created the United States of America.
Diner, H. (2001). Hungering for America Italian, Irish, and Jewish foodways in the age of migration. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Glynn, I. (2011). Emigration Across the Atlantic: Irish, Italians and Swedes compared, 1800-1950. Mainz: Institut für Europäische Geschichte.
Schwab, W., & Gearhart, G. (2013). Right to dream: Immigration reform and America's future. Fayetteville, Ark.: University of Arkansas Press.