Modern America through the lens of immigration


America is only America because of immigration. America wouldn’t be what it is today without immigration. Even the people that were here first which were the natives were immigrants. They came here from Asia. Anybody else that lives here in america is an immigrant or are somehow connected to one. Every person in America roots back to some other country. This being said, immigration is a necessity for the United States but only if it is done right. Back in the 18-1900s, a lot of immigrants that were coming into the united states were trying to get away from something in their homeland or were just trying to come here for a better life. They came to try and better themselves or escape the harsh conditions they were living in. Immigrants were and are still just trying to achieve their version of the american dream but america won’t let that happen. There are always going to be stereotypes about everything but the most directly impacting stereotypes are about race and religion. An immigrant’s experience is always going to be harder than they think because of racial and religious stereotypes and ideas. Socially constructed ideas and attitudes towards race and religion made the immigrant experience more difficult because of America’s stereotypes and bias against anyone who wasn’t considered white.


In most of ireland, Housing was really bad. “A census report in 1841 found that nearly half the families in rural areas lived in windowless mud cabins, most with no furniture other than a stool. Pigs slept with their owners and heaps of manure lay by the doors.” (WINTER 2010 Volume 26, No. 2). A main reason for Poverty in ireland was the challenge to gain land. Most of it was not industrialized and the parts that were; weren’t doing good. There were only a few large and productive farms but they were owned by protestant englishmen. These men just wanted money. They rarely ever visited their properties. They had a “middleman” that divided the farms into smaller and smaller portions to increase rent. The farms were now too small to have people hired to take care of them. Since there was almost no work, the irish had to buy small bits of land and plant potatoes to survive. The irish relied on potatoes since they could be grown in large quantities in small areas. They could also be grown in places that other crops couldn’t. Planting potatoes was also really easy. So why did they come into the US? Well, almost two million irish immigrants came to the United States because they were really poor, and were dying of disease and starvation. Disease killed the potato crops in ireland which meant millions of people had no food. They had two choices; to stay and try to live without food or leave in attempt to find a better life. A lot of them chose to choose to attempt and get a better life.

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A lot of the japanese people that came to the united states was to to accomplish their dreams and find find opportunities. Others came for peace and prosperity. Where they came from was very unstable and they wanted a better future not only for themselves but for their children. On December 9, 1941, japan attacked pearl harbor which led to a lot of anti-japanese feelings mainly in the US mainland. After the attack, about 1,500 people were detained as enemy aliens and 100,000 that were on the mainland were interned



The irish were always seen in a bad light. There were no specific reasons for them to be seen this way but they were. This can lead some to believe that it was purely because of their race. A picture made by Thomas Nast was published in Harper’s Weekly on april 6, 1867. He was really known and his journal was the most read during the Civil War. He had enough power to affect every presidential election from 1864-1884. The picture he made had been seen by enough non-immigrants to affect the experience for irish immigrants in a negative way.

This picture is an interpretation of the 1867 st Patrick’s day riot when a wagon driver got stuck and blocked the parade. The marchers got angry and attacked him. “When a police officer interceded to protect the driver, he, too, was assaulted, ‘knocked down and severely injured by being trampled upon.’” (Bowery Boys, 2017) The driver and the officer attempting to protect him weren’t the only ones that were attacked on that day. More officers arrived at the seen and the corner of Grand and Pitt was soon an all out brawl. “The Hibernians” (a native of ireland) used staves which were broken wood post from buildings and shillelaghs which were black thorned sticks usually used as walking sticks or clubs. According to the Bowery Boys, they used these objects as weapons well enough to give the officers a number of “scalp wounds and bruises”. There was no clear information on why the marchers got angry, just that they attacked the driver and the officers trying to help him. This article shows one side of the attack. In the picture the irish are drawn as more ape looking and ravaging rather than human and peaceful. It shows them rioting and attacking the white people. Nast was trying to portray the irish as violent and aggressive. The irish were just trying to come to the united states in search for a better life because There were many factors that pushed them out of ireland and caused them to migrate to the United States. The Irish overall experience became harder when you understand their work experience because they had to do the jobs nobody else wanted to do. “Many Irish women became servants or domestic workers, while many Irish men labored in coal mines and built railroads and canals. Railroad construction was so dangerous that it was said, ‘[there was] an Irishman buried under every tie.’” (Library of Congress). This made the experience for irish immigrants extremely difficult because they could been seen almost as slaves. They faced low pay and dangerous working conditions. If it was dangerous enough for people to say there was an irishman buried under each tie, one can imagine the death toll for those workers. All of this because the white people didn’t want to do the dangerous jobs. The immigrants had no choice but to take them because that was the only option for them. They couldn’t live a better life. They were seen as lowlife, aggressive, good for nothing laborers. These were the racial stereotypes and bias that made the immigrants experience a wretched thing.


Religion was another factor that made the immigrant experience harder. Since the irish were catholic and most Americans were protestant, the americans though the irish immigrants would be more loyal to the pope rather than to the United States government.

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Modern America through the lens of immigration. (2022, Nov 25). Retrieved from