Immigration in the United States

Cameron Lee, Nick Briggs

When the group came to the United States

In the United States, before there was New England, there was New Spain; and before there was Boston, Mass., there was Santa Fe, N.M. The teaching of American history normally emphasizes the founding and growth of the British colonies in North America, their emergence as an independent nation in 1776, and the development of the United States from east to west. This treatment easily omits the fact that there was significant colonization by Spain of what is now the American Southwest from the 16th century onward. It also tends to ignore, until the Mexican War is mentioned, that the whole Southwest, from Texas westward to California, was a Spanish-speaking territory with its own distinctive heritage, culture, and customs for many decades.

Why the group came to the United States

In 1846, shortly after the annexation of Texas, President James Polk ordered U.S. troops into disputed lands, precipitating a war against Mexico. The war ended with the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. This is what Chicano activists mean when they say "the border crossed them." Today, 33.5 million people of Mexican originlive in the United States.

How the group got to the United States

With exception of the approximately 10,000 Mexican miners who entered California during the Gold Rush, migration from Mexico was very light during most of the 19th century, averaging no more than 3,000 to 5,000 persons per decade in the period between 1840 and 1890.[3] This changed dramatically at the beginning of next century.

What U.S. immigration laws or policies were in effect at the time of group's migration

Between 1900 and 1930, Mexican immigration into the United States rose dramatically as cheap U.S. labor was once again needed. Employers recruited Mexicans to work in agriculture after Chinese and Japanese immigrants were excluded from working in the United States. However Mexican workers were at a great disadvantage as they had no working rights. Anytime they organized a strike against abuse from employers they were simply deported.

How many members of their group came to the U.S.

Restrictive immigration legislation in 1921 and 1924, coupled with the Great Depression and World War II, led to a sharp drop in new arrivals. As a result, the foreign-born share steadily declined between the 1930s and 1970s, reaching a record low of approximately 5 percent in 1970 (9.6 million). Since 1970, the share and number have increased rapidly, mainly as a result of large-scale immigration from Latin America and Asia made possible by changes to admission rules adopted by Congress in 1965. Since 1970, the number of U.S. immigrants more than quadrupled as it grew from 9.6 million in 1970 to 41.3 million in 2013.

How the U.S.'s population received and/or treated the group

Immigrant health care in the United States is distinct from citizen health care given the context of various social and economic factors as well as implemented health policies. Consequently, in addition to managing the physical and emotional strains of making a cultural transition, immigrant families find themselves in an increasingly hostile social and political environment.

Where the group settled?

In the decades prior to 1880, immigration to the United States was primarily European, driven by forces such as industrialization in Western Europe and the Irish potato famine. The expanding frontiers of the American West and the United States' industrial revolution drew immigrants to U.S. shores. Chinese immigrants began to arrive in large numbers for the first time in the 1850s after gold was discovered in California in 1848.

Jobs the group typically found

Employer enforcement has been the weakest element of U.S. immigration enforcement strategy. Large-scale worksite enforcement raids, such as the one of a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, in 2008 have been supplanted with a new focus by the Obama administration on auditing employers and punishing those who violate hiring laws, rather than the workers who are improperly employed. At the same time, the voluntary online E-Verify system developed by DHS to check the immigration status of new hires has gained traction. In 2009, the Obama administration mandated its use by all federal contractors. Many states have established similar requirements. By 2012, 400,000 employers were enrolled in the program compared to 24,463 five years before.

In its early years, E-Verify was criticized heavily for inaccuracy. While many improvements have been made, concerns remain over the program's inability to validate identity, detect identity theft, and the possibility that its use can lead to discrimination and unfair labor practices.

At nearly $18 billion in FY2012, federal spending for immigration enforcement is now 24 percent greater than spending for all other principal criminal federal law enforcement agencies combined. Public sentiment that called for strengthened enforcement as a necessary pre-condition for broader immigration reform measures has both driven the build-up and succeeded in accomplishing it.

Contributions the group made to the U.S. and its culture

A combination of factors is responsible for the new trends. First, sectors that typically employ unauthorized immigrants—including construction, hospitality, and tourism—experienced deep job loss in the recession, so job demand for lower-skilled workers has diminished. Second, the buildup of immigration enforcement at the border and in the U.S. interior has raised the costs, risks, and difficulty of migrating illegally. Finally, structural changes in Mexico—sustained economic growth, improved rates of high school graduation, falling fertility rates, a decline in the size and growth of the prime working-age population, and the emergence of a strong middle class—have slowed emigration.

Influence the group had on their homelands as a result of its migration

The U.S.-Mexico border is a diverse area that spans more than 1,900 miles. For most of the period since the Border Patrol was created in 1924, chronic lack of funding and adequate resources prevented it from carrying out its mission of preventing illegal border crossings. That began to change with stepped up border enforcement during the 1990s.


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