Immigration, 1917-80

  • Created by: TeganLM
  • Created on: 14-04-19 15:16

Early immigration

  • pre-WW1: 'open door' policy to immigration
  • traditionally welcomed immigrants- from 1774-1874: around 170,000 immigrants entered the USA every year
  • 1907: 1.2 million immigrants of which 81% were from Southern and Eastern Europe
  • vast majority of new immigrants went to live and work in cities= rapid urban growth due to increasing industrialisation
  • 1894: Immigration Restriction League established to restrict immigration into the US- lobbied politicians to pass an immigration restriction bill- finally passed in 1917
  • Dillingham commission reported in 1911: said immigration posed a serious threat to American society and culture
  • distinguished between the 'old' immigrants (English, German, Irish) and the 'new' immigrants from southern and eastern Europe (seen to be racially inferior and did not assimilate)
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Immigration in the 1920s- legislation

  • post-war isolationism
  • government wanted less contact with the rest of the world and immigration was a controllable point of contact
  • Dillingham Report
  • Red Scare 1919-20 and Russian Revolution 1917
  • spike in unemployment- fear that immigrants were 'taking jobs'
  • thousands deported during the Red Scare
  • 1917 Immigration Act: lists 'undesireable' immigrants to be excluded- homesexuals, criminals and 'insane persons', also imposes literacy qualification for anyone over 16
  • 1921 Emergency Quota Act: restricts yearly no. of immigrants from any country to 3% of that population in the US in 1910
  • 1924 Johnson-Reed Immigration Act- changes quota to 2% of 1890 population- more nothern Europeans
  • 1929 National Origins Formula: confirms total number of immigrants fixed at 150,000 and bans Asian immigration altogther
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Impact of immigration in the 1920s

  • hostility towards new immigrants from already established communities
  • new immigrants increased competition for housing and jobs at a time when white and black rural migrants were entering cities
  • 1910: 1.2% of US urban population was black- 4.1% by 1920
  • % of those who were foreign-born/had foreign-born parents increased from 74% to 85%
  • immgration from South and Central America (particularly Mexico) increased rapidly in the 1920s to fill the demand for cheap labour in Southern US states
  • many of these immigrants were illegal- employers exploited their fear of deportation and made them work in terrible conditions
  • once the Depression hit: officials began to deport immigrants
  • white workers moved into cities in search of work
  • estimated around 400,000 immigrants deported during the Depression
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Impact of immigration on urban life 1919-41

  • 1920s: US cities were growing for a number of reasons
  • industrial expansion meant more workers were needed
  • immigrants tended to move to areas where there was already an established community of thier nationality/there was a language connection
  • in 1920: 36% of the New York population were foreign-born
  • most urban areas were informally segregated by ethnic group
  • many towns and cities had areas known as 'little Italy'
  • over time- immigrants had children who were more assimilated- cultural differences became less important
  • 1914: 1,300 foreign-language newspapers published in the US- only 75 by the 1960s
  • most of the workers in Henry Ford's factory were Eastern European
  • newest immigrants were at 'the bottom of the heap'- lowest wages, worst conditions etc.
  • some succeeded: by 1920- Irish politicans, policemen and lawyers in Boston and Italian professionals in New York
  • became an important voting bloc- campaigned for Roosevelt in the Depression
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Impact of WW2

  • Once the US entered the war- Italian-, German- and Japanese-Americans were classed as enemy aliens
  • although the Japanese-American population were small, they were treated most harshly because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
  • around 120,000 were placed in internment camps, property confiscated
  • fewer than 1% of Germans and Italians were interned
  • as the war continued- attitudes worsened
  • business owners with Italian- or German-sounding names were attacked/people stopped shopping at their business
  • thousands of young men who were technically enemy aliens signed up to fight in the war and were allowed to serve in segregated units
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Government policy after 1940

  • 1940 Alien Registration Act requires non-citizens entering the country to register with the federal government: is originally a wartime control but is kept in place after 1945
  • 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act still uses the quota system: introduces a preference for skilled workers and maintains a total limit 
  • after the start of the Cold War: the US takes in refugees fleeing the spread of European communism
  • 200,000 Cuban refugees entered the US from 1959-62
  • Kennedy was a fierce critic of the quota system and was working on the 1965 Hart-Celler Act when he was assassinated
  • 1965 Hart-Celler Act: abolishes quotas, sets limit of 170,000 immigrants per year and allows for more Asian immigration
  • 1965-70: immigration from Asia quadrupled- after fall of Saigon in 1975, the US took in 130,000 Vietnamese immigrants
  • Operation Wet Back begins in 1954 and deports illegal Hispanic immigrants
  • 1976: 20,000 limit on immigration into the US
  • illegal immigration increased after 1976 restrictions
  • shifting attitudes: Liberal politicians were keener to accept immigrants but public attitude varied around the US- when the economy suffered, attitudes towards immigrants worsened
  • by 1980: desire to control immigration, both legal and illegal 
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