On August 3rd 1492 a group of Spanish sailors, while searching for a faster route to India, landed on a small island christened San Salvador. Columbus’ landing in America was the flood gate that began a mass immigration to this continent that would eventually be the foundation on which America was built. From 1492 to 2014 immigration continues to be an issue Americans must endure for its both positive and negative affects. After America won its independence from England, the immigration to this country began to increase because of the ideals and opportunity the newly freed country provided. Between 1870 and 1900 nearly 12 million immigrants arrived in the United States from countries like Germany, Ireland, and England (America Past and Present, 2013). Much like the first colonist these immigrants made the long journey across the Atlantic in search of religious freedom, the opportunity to create a better life, and to be a part of a government that provided a choice and a vote. In the late 1800s crowded in packed cities immigrants lived in small apartments many times with multiple generations along with tenants that rented any extra space. An immigrant’s life was not easy with wages being low and living space being both cramped and in most cases very dirty. Like everyone who immigrated to this country though they fought through turmoil and hoped a better life would soon be a reality. Even today immigration is hot button issue with both politicians and citizens. With the government spending upwards of 18 billion dollars in fiscal year 2012 (Immigration Enforcement in the United States, 2013), Americans have grown tired of the excessive budget for preventing illegal immigration. The preventative budget is not the largest issue because immigrants that cross into this country illegally are not obligated to pay taxes or be a productive member of society. The fact most Americans forget is this country was built on immigration and even though we are hemorrhaging money to prevent illegal immigration, their culture and the culture provided by the millions who have made their way to America is essential to our country’s foundation.
On July 4th 1776 the thirteen colonies approved and declared the United States of America free from British control. The mass immigration of Europeans unhappy with their way of life had already begun, but once America had declared independence the idea of being an American was bright and attracted many diligent and hard working individuals. From 1815 to 1915 about 30 million Europeans decided to immigrate to the Unites States (Destination America
Chuck Willis, 2007). At this time the American dream was exactly that, mostly because these individuals left their current way of life for mere rumors of a country where a new life is just waiting for all who seek it. The reality obviously was not as grand as the dream had been. Yet, individuals from England, Germany, Ireland, Poland, France, Spain left their countries and in some situations their families just for the chance of success in America. Ironically enough the current residents of America despised immigrants for many reasons forgetting the fact they themselves or their family not far removed was once or currently is still an immigrant. This country was built on the back of people who were not born in America and their culture along with the developed American culture is what we now celebrate as our countries history. Thirty million new Americans in the 1800s had traveled to the East coast either through one of the main ports or Ellis Island near the end of the century. All the immigrants were looking for a new life and coincidently brought their own culture to the melting pot that was and is America now. If Americans look at what is held dear with regard to traditions, Americans would actually find they mostly originate in other countries. For example, Halloween is a Gaelic holiday adopted by Christians and eventually turned into a day of “trick or...
Cited: Destination America. PBS Home Video ;, 2006. Film.
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