Immigrating to The United States in the Modern Era

Immigrating to The United States in the Modern Era

The United States is a country founded on immigration. The Pilgrims who came from Great Britain to America on the Mayflower, were among the country's first immigrants. Despite the perils of crossing the ocean, hundreds of thousands of people came to America from various parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. Some came voluntarily, while others were brought to the country against their will. This forced immigration occurred most recognizably with Africans, who were brought as slaves from Africa. Indentured servants from Europe were also subject to a form of forced immigration. People who willingly immigrated to the United States often did so with the hopes of a better life for themselves and their families. The Potato Famine in Ireland, for example, led many Irish to immigrate to America often leaving everything behind. Many immigrants who arrived at the turn of the 19th century came through Ellis Island, where they were greeted by the Statue of Liberty. Other immigrants came from China and Mexico on the west coast.

In modern times immigrants come from all over the world, by boat, by plane, in cars, or by walking across the Canadian or Mexican border. Because of ever changing economic situations, trends in immigration are constantly changing. The influx of new people and culture affects the population of the country, particularly in large cities, where resources are more readily available. Immigration trends also affect employment, education, and medical care. The nationalities of people who immigrate at any given time will also fluctuate. While Europeans made up the majority of immigrants in the past, current trends show that most immigrants now come from Mexico and China. Another, more troubling trend is the number of illegal immigrants coming to U.S. Illegal immigration is predominately associated with South America, and with Mexico in particular. Some research, however, indicates that the number of illegal immigrants as well as the number of legal immigrants are on the decline.

America is widely considered to be a “melting pot” into which diverse cultures mix and form a union which has worked toward being harmonious and united. Immigration laws were highly restrictive in the past, denying citizenship to blacks and other groups. Over time, however, these laws have been mainly liberalized. Illegal immigration has become a source of controversy and debate. As a result, states are creating new laws in efforts to control immigration. Some of these laws are viewed as discriminatory, particularly to certain ethnic groups. In Arizona, for example, new immigration laws would require people to show their identification in order to prove their legal status. People in opposition of this law feel that it unfairly marks people of certain ethnic groups, and will force legal citizens born and raised in the U.S. to show identification.

History of Immigration

Current Trends in Immigration

US Laws and Immigration