The Great Migration
Low wages, unemployment, disease, forced military conscription, and religious persecution all inspired immigrants to flee their homelands and come to the United States. These immigrants were inspired to come to America by its reputation as the "Land Of Liberty" and also by the inspiring letters of friends and relatives already in the United States. These "New Immigrants" fleeing poverty and persecution faced difficulties in assimilating into American culture that they were not. Most could not speak English, nor were they literate in their own language. They came from non-democratic governments and were often distrustful of government, and ended up in a a similar situation in America with political machines, and thief’s. Immigrants during this period crammed into cities in the Northeast, and created small ethnic communities where they preserved the culture of their homelands. With many fleeing Americans, there could have been a worse time to migrate, due to harsh working and living conditions, and new immigration restriction laws, the many negatives outweigh the positives for the new immigrants. The New Immigrants during the 1880-1920 period typically settled in the cities along the eastern seaboard and entered low-paying, wage-labor jobs, which meant they filled the growing factories and also worked at other poorly-paid jobs such as construction work or sewing. Because the living conditions were at a all-time low, they could be compared to how the living conditions were before moving to America. These immigrants often arrived with little money which caused many into substandard housing in the worst parts of the overcrowded cities. With their populations rising exponentially, the infrastructure of the cities could not handle the effects of overcrowding which meant horrible condition for the new citizens. Many cities had problems with sanitation, leading to overflowing sewers, uncollected garbage, impure water, and a general stench in the air. Adding onto the soaring populations and overcrowding, crime rates rose. These negative conditions show that examples show that living situation for these new immigrants could have not been worse. All though some may say, immigrants maintained their culture by publishing newspapers in their native languages, opening specialty grocery stores and restaurants, and establishing churches, synagogues, and schools. But these communities could not protect immigrants from discrimination inflicted by native-born Americans. Not only were the living situations unsuitable for these new immigrants, American government was trying to put a plug in overseas immigration. The Immigration Act of 1924 was a continuation of the Immigration Act of 1917 and attempted to fix loopholes in immigration restriction established by the earlier law. In the decades prior to 1917, what was effectively unlimited immigration resulted in nearly ten million people legally entering the United States. Many of these people came from Eastern Europe and Russia. Because of these new laws, the effect was to severely alter the demographics of those permitted to enter the country. Also in the early to mid-nineteenth century, unskilled workers from China migrated to California and the western states seeking work. Unlike European immigrants who came in family groups, this immigration was primarily by males seeking work. In the turn of the century the Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited the immigration of Chinese laborers into the United States for ten years, and further immigration legislation continued the ban until later in the century. The reasons these new immigrants made the journey to America differed little from those of their predecessors. Escaping religious, racial, and political persecution, or seeking relief from a lack of economic opportunity or famine still pushed many immigrants out of their homelands. Although seeking to America for better opportunities, the negatives outweigh the positives for...
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