Immigration to the U.S.



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In the late 1800s and early 1900s many people that lived in different parts of the world made a choice to leave their homes and immigrate to the United States. The U.S. was becoming a place of growing cities and rising population.  Land and job shortages, and rising taxes caused many  from Southern and Eastern Europe to come to the U. S. because it was known as the land of economic opportunity. China and Japan were very populated and sent many men over the Pacific looking for jobs.  Many other people came seeking freedom or to get away from political and religious situations. Almost 12 million immigrants arrived in the United States between 1870 and 1900. During the first wave of immigrants most of the people coming to America were from Germany, Ireland, and England but during this second wave many more came from Southern and Eastern Europe as well as Asia. As time went on different cultures continued to show up on American shores looking for opportunity.

Immigrants entered the United States through the East Coast, and the West Coast centers. More than 70% of all immigrants entered through Ellis Island, N.Y.C.  New York City. N.Y. became known as the “Golden Door.” In 1892, the federal government opened an immigration processing center. The center was open on Ellis Island in New York harbor. On the West Coast many Asian immigrants entered San Francisco under the Golden Gate Bridge through Angel Island but later their numbers were restricted due to prejudice.


Many states, especially the ones with big populations, attracted immigrants by offering jobs or land for farming. Many immigrants wanted to move into a house and start building communities. Once immigrants got settled in their new setting, immigrants looked for work. There were never enough jobs, and employers often took advantage of the immigrants and their rights. Foreign born men were usually paid less than other American workers. Women were always paid less than men regardless of their job title. Immigrants were often stereotyped and discriminated against. After World War I America became more isolationist and this policy was known as nativism.  Many immigrants went through verbal and physical abuse because they were “different.” The new immigrants that came into the U.S. helped transform American society and culture, demonstrating that diversity, as well as unity, is a important part of national strength.

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