Chinese Immigration

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Chinese Immigration

Every person who lives in America is either an immigrant or a descendant of an immigrant. Though we may not consider it, it is a fact that everyone here has come from some other place. The majority of immigrants have come to America voluntarily. Seeking a change they envisioned America as country thriving with different opportunities. For the immigrants it was a chance at a better life, not only for themselves, but for their children. It is estimated that over sixty million people have immigrated to America and it is this immigration that has built America into a "melting pot." America is a country thriving with varies ethnic, cultural, religious, and economic identities. It is this "melting pot" that makes America so unique and cherished by those who live here. On the other hand there are unpleasant aspects of immigration, which include the hardships faced in order to reach America and the struggle to gain acceptance. During 1850 to 1930, immigration was increasing and was welcomed in order to supply the demands of the Industrial Age. Chinese immigrants came to America in search of labor, thus proving to be hard, diligent laborers, only to be discriminated against and treated unjustly.

The reason for immigration is commonly referred to as the push-pull theory. It says that certain factors must be present at both sides in order for immigration to occur. The factors present at the homeland must push immigrants to leave, and factors present at the other end must attract immigrants and pull them to a new place. For the Chinese it was the need to provide for their families that pushed them and the gold and labor that pulled them.

The Chinese were the first Asians to immigrate to America. Most Chinese immigrated as sojourners, immigrants who from the beginning intended to return to their homeland. In the mid 1800's many unskilled Chinese began their journey to the West, particularly California, arriving in vast numbers just after the discovery of gold in California in 1849. Between 1850 to 1882 more than 300,000 Chinese immigrants, mostly impoverished peasants crossed the Pacific and headed for America, the promise land. The majority of Chinese immigrants were from the same region, Canton, which is located in South China. More than ninety percent of those who left China were male, mainly because of Chinese social custom, which instructed women to remain at home with their families.

A number of Chinese immigrants were unable to pay for their voyage to America, therefore, they acquired the help of a work broker in order to immigrate. Just like the African slaves, the immigrants signed contracts guaranteeing that they would work for a certain amount of years in exchange for paying their way to America. These arrangements enabled thousands of Chinese to have a chance at a better life in America. The immigrants under this contract were known as "coolies," a Hindu word meaning "unskilled laborer. During the 1850's a vast majority of "coolies" chose to immigrate to California. Between 1840 and 1900 about 2.4 million Chinese left their homeland. Many Chinese entered America through an immigration station at Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.

From Angel Island the majority of Chinese immigrants set out in search of the gold in the West, which included California, Nevada, and Oregon. This discovery of gold was the main attraction of Chinese immigrants. It was a factor that set off the voyage to America among the Chinese. Even though a large percentage of Chinese immigrants became miners, it was a difficult job for them, because of the hostility from White miners. The White miners forced the Chinese into working mines that were already picked over and left abandoned. However, with hard work the Chinese still managed to remove what gold remained from the mines. Their determination and diligence only seemed to evoke even more hostility from the Whites amongst the Chinese. The...
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