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Immigration is a very controversial topic we discuss every day. 12,000 years ago immigrants started coming to America. They came here to escape things such as, poverty, misery, lack of resources, and better job opportunities. People from all over the world come here because they think they will have a better life. Immigrants back then came here in search of hope. These immigrants lived in awful conditions and most had no job or an education. Those who had jobs most likely did not make enough money to keep food on the table and a roof over their head. They came here in hope for change and a better life for themselves and their families.
Irish immigrants began coming to America in the 1840s. The infamous potato famine cause a great famish and destitute for the common farmers. ¾ of their crops were destroyed making it extremely hard to survive. The one advantage the Irish had coming here was their language. Irish had a very hard time being accepted into society back then. They were discriminated against as being unintelligent, filthy, sluggish, and hard drinkers. The Irish were hardworking, but very unskilled in many ways. When the Irish got off the boats, immediately they were given opportunities. Men were given fifty dollars to give to their wives to join the army. Many accepted the offer and were shipped out the next minute.
The Italians also came here, but in escape of different conditions occurring in their towns. In Italy there was overpopulation, poverty, disease, and the biggest tragedy of all, natural disasters. The Italians had a drawback of not being able to communicate. They had to learn English when they got here in order to converse with others. Italians regularly had very large families. Starting from the bottom of the occupational ladder working up, they worked jobs such as shoe shinning, ragpicking, sewer cleaning, and whatever hard, filthy, treacherous jobs others didn’t want. Even children worked at an early age, as in Italy, even at the expense of their educations. The Italians were known for hardly ever accepting charity, another reflection of patterns in Italy. Italians sought opportunities to be free, make money, and get out of disaster zones of their towns.
Chinese immigrants began to come here in the 1800s because of the Gold Rush. Chinese were particularly hard working and skillful. They worked in unsafe conditions such as the Rocky Mountains. Many worked on the transcontinental railroad. They also received lower pay than their white counterparts. This is partly because they did not speak English and could not ask for better pay. The nativists were not pleased with them being here because that meant they were being given the jobs because the companies could get away with paying them less. Chinese were the first group excluded from coming to the United States by the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. Many Chinese were sent to Angel Island and detained there for years.
Ultimately, it is clear that all immigrants came here for one reason, to have a chance at a better life. Irish came here to escape the failure of their crops, the Italians came here to get away from shortage and overpopulation, the Chinese came here when the Gold Rush occurred in order to make money. Our views on immigration all focus on jobs and money. However, what we fail to realize is that our country was made by immigrants. Without immigrants America wouldn’t be the way it is now. Immigrants are doctors, teachers, writers, every occupation. We say they take our jobs, but if they weren’t just as qualified as us we would not have to worry about losing our jobs to them now would we?
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