Immigration to the United States



Give an overview of immigrant history in the United States from 1820-1920. There were two major waves of immigration. Identify them and explain their differences.

Throughout the years of 1820-1920, there have been two major waves of immigrants arriving to the United States of America. The first wave was during 1820-1870. Most of the immigrants entered through New York, New York instead of Philadelphia. The first immigration station in New York at the time was Castle Garden. Castle Garden was located on the southern tip of Manhattan Island. At the time, most of the immigrants arrived on the East Coast because so many were from Europe. The Europeans that arrived were mostly Irish and German. They left because of the potato famine that happened during 1840. One-third of the immigrant population was Irish. Many of the Irish people were penniless and lacked the resources the needed, and they also tended to stay close to the coast. The German were the opposite and mostly traveled inland. Some of the immigrants during the first were arriving on the West Coast, and these immigrants were mostly the Chinese. They came to the United States of America because they heard news about gold being discovered in 1848. Most of these Chinese immigrants were young, single men who wanted to come to make fortunes and then return to China. Instead when they came, they stayed for the rest of their lives working low-wage jobs. Later on, Congress enacted the Chinese Exclusion Act which stated that the immigration of all ethnic Chinese people was illegal. The second wave was during 1881-1920. There were two main reasons for this wave of immigration. The first reason was that states wanted to increase their population, so they sent agents over the Atlantic Ocean to recruit workers to come over. The second reason was that the price for transportation became drastically cheaper, allowing poor Europeans to travel. During this wave of immigrants, there were approximately 23 million immigrants that come over to the United States of America. Most of these immigrants came from Southern and Eastern Europe after 1890. Some of the immigrants received hostility because of their racial, religious, and political differences. The differences about the two major waves were that the first wave consisted of primarily Northern and Western Europeans before 1880, but the second wave consisted of primarily Southern and Eastern Europeans after 1880.

Approximately how many illegal immigrants are now residing in the United States? What are the top five nationalities of illegal immigrants? Where are the top five places they reside? (Include numbers in each state.) During what period in our history did the largest arrival of illegal immigrants occur? Why do you think this was so?

There are about 11.3 million illegal immigrants. An illegal immigrant also known as an illegal alien is a foreigner who has entered or resides in a country unlawfully or without the country's authorization. The top five nationalities of illegal immigrants are Mexicans, El Salvadorians, Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Filipinos. The five places for illegal immigrants to live in are California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois. There are about 2,820,000 illegal immigrants living in California; 1,830,000 in Texas; 730,000 in Florida; 580,000 in New York; and 540,000 in Illinois. The time period for illegal immigrants to arrive was most likely during the early 1940's. This is because there was a labor shortage, and the goal was to import foreign workers and then bring them back home. Many people could have snuck in and pretended to have their papers.

Define citizenship. How does a person become a citizen of the United States? Explain the two- part process. What is it called?

Citizenship is defined as the state of being vested with the rights, privileges, and duties of a citizen. To become a citizen of the United States of America, you have to go through the process of naturalization. This process includes filing an application, taking a test, and living as a legal, permanent resident. The form is called a N-400 and it is used to apply for citizenship. Taking a test requires a knowledge of U.S. history and government. After completling the test, you have to take an Oath of Allegiance. The requirements for obtaining a citizenship include: living in the United States of America for five years (unmarried), or for three years (married to a U.S. Citizen); knowing how to read, write, and speak English; and knowing about U.S. Civics.

Powerful Symbols during Immigration

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The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is considered a symbol of freedom to people all around the world. Its designer was Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. The statue was nicknamed Liberty Enlightening the World. It was a joint effort between France and the United States of America. America's part of this project was to build the pedestal on which the statue would stand. France's part of this project was to build the statue, transport it, and assemble it in New York. This is so important because it was a joint effort between two countries.

Ellis Island

Ellis Island was originally used as a tavern, but when the owner died the family sold it to the State of New York. The State of New York then sold it to the federal government. The federal government used it as an immigration station and it helped during the first World War. The original immigration building got burned down, and the government only agreed to rebuild it if it was rebuild as a fireproof building. Later on, it was used as a detention center for foreign/alien enemies. This was until it was shut down in 1954. This is so important because it was a "representative" for the United States of America to the incoming immigrants.


The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2015.

USCIS. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2015.

"Illegal Immigration." Center for Immigration Studies. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.

"Immigration Waves." Immigration to the United States. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.