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The Impact of Immigration on American Politics

The Impact of Immigration on American Politics

Introduction

One of the most important and perhaps unique historical elements contributing to the character of the American system is the diversity of backgrounds from which the nation’s citizen come. Immigrants from almost every corner of the world have decided to leave their ancestral homes and make a new life in the United States. Except for the American Indian, Eskimos and native Hawaiians, every American is either an immigrants or a descendant of immigrants. The flow of people to what is now the United States began in the sixteenth century. It continued largely unrestricted until 1921, when congress enacted legislation setting quotas for the number of the persons who could annually enter the United States. Above all, this continuing immigration made a tremendous and dramatic contribution to the size of the population of the United States.

But the impact of immigration on the development of the United States goes far beyond its effect on the size of population. The tide of immigrants that began to swell in the 1840s and crested at the end of nineteenth century made possible the astounding industrial and commercial growth of the United States, as well as its territorial expansion. Another impact feature of American immigration has been the ethic, economic and religious diversity of the immigrants. Other nations can trace their development to mass influxes of immigrants.

Conditions abroad and in the United States caused these people to arrive here in great waves. Almost all African immigrants came prior the Civil War, but unlike most other immigrants, they did not come of their own free will. Chinese immigrants, recruited to help build the railroads, settled in large numbers on the West Coast in the 1850s and 1860s. Many people from Northern and Western Europe came before 1880. at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, other from Southern, Eastern and Central Europe arrived in larger numbers for several years. Hungarians and Cubans have fled their homelands to escape communist regimes.

Immigrants in Politics

The ethnic diversity made possible by immigration to the United States has enriched American music, literature, art, and the whole fabric of the nation’s society. It has also had a noticeable effect on the American political system. One of the most notable aspects of the American experience for most immigrants has been a virtually unlimited opportunity to take part in American life despite...

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