U.S. Immigration Since 1965

U.S. Immigration Since 1965

Immigration to the United States after 1945

Post-1945 immigration to the United States differed fairly dramatically from America’s earlier 20th- and 19th-century immigration patterns, most notably in the dramatic rise in numbers of immigrants from Asia. Beginning in the late 19th century, the U.S. government took steps to bar immigration from Asia. The establishment of the national origins quota system in the 1924 Immigration Act narrowed the entryway for eastern and central Europeans, making western Europe the dominant source of immigrants. These policies shaped the racial and ethnic profile of the American population before 1945. Signs of change began to occur during and after World War II. The recruitment of temporary agricultural workers from Mexico led to an influx of Mexicans, and the repeal of Asian exclusion laws opened the door for Asian immigrants. Responding to complex international politics during the Cold War, the United States also formulated a series of refugee policies, admitting refugees from Europe, the western hemisphere, and later Southeast Asia. The movement of people to the United States increased drastically after 1965, when immigration reform ended the national origins quota system. The intricate and intriguing history of U.S. immigration after 1945 thus demonstrates how the United States related to a fast-changing world, its less restrictive immigration policies increasing the fluidity of the American population, with a substantial impact on American identity and domestic policy.



  • 20th Century: Post-1945
  • Foreign Relations and Foreign Policy
  • Political History
  • Urban History
  • Latino History
  • Asian American History


The vast majority of the immigrants who came to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries arrived from Europe, especially western Europe. The enactment of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act ended free immigration. Through legal measures and diplomatic agreements, the government also found ways to exclude Japanese (and Koreans), Indians, and Filipinos. The national origins quota system enacted in 1924 narrowed the entryway for eastern and southern Europeans. Although territorial annexation and the need for Mexican labor for industrial and agricultural developments drove Mexican immigration to the United States since the late 19th century, deportation of Mexican workers had prevented many Mexicans from attaining permanent residency in the United States. After 1945 , however, sources of immigration became more diverse. As issues concerning the U.S. economy, World War II, and America’s role in international affairs became increasingly important, government regulations also became less restrictive. The result is that 21st-century trends in U.S. immigration have their roots in the important developments during and after World War II, especially in programs and policies designed to import agricultural workers from Mexico, end Asian exclusion, admit refugees, and abolish the national origins quota system. As streams of newcomers arrived from the western hemisphere, Asia, and Africa, immigration from Europe declined, and many European nations also began to shift from sources of U.S. immigration to destinations of international migration. These changes have affected the American population and American society in profound ways. Today, European immigrants and their descendants represent less than two-thirds of the American population, as the growth of immigrants from the western hemisphere, Asia, and Africa and their U.S.-born descendants has continued.

The Bracero Program

The most important source of U.S. immigration since 1945 is Mexico. Mexico occupies a unique position in U.S. immigration history due to its political and economic ties with the United States and geographical proximity of the two nations. Some Mexicans were longtime residents of the southern and western regions of North America. In the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo ending the Mexican-American War, the United States annexed northern Mexico, making some fifty thousand Mexicans living in that region American residents. For several decades after the annexation, residents of both nations crossed the border frequently to join their family members and relatives the nearly two thousand miles of national border that separates the southwestern states and Mexico made the crossing relatively easy. High demands in southwestern states for low-wage labor provided economic incentives for U.S.-bound migration. Around 1900 , the United States began to recruit impoverished rural workers from west-central Mexican states. Recruitment intensified after World War I. After the 1924 immigration law restricted the entry of southern and eastern Europeans, more than six hundred thousand Mexicans arrived in the 1920s. 1 But during the Great Depression, the government deported as many as 453,000 Mexicans to reduce domestic unemployment pressure. 2

Compared to these early efforts, the recruitment of Mexican farm workers that began in World War II was larger in scale and had a more lasting impact. Immediately after the Pearl Harbor incident, severe shortages of domestic labor compelled the United States to seek labor once again from its next-door neighbor. Initiated in 1942 with the collaboration of the Mexican government, the Bracero Program arranged for the importation of young male Mexicans to southwestern U.S. farms as guest workers (some also contracted to work on the railroad). These workers entered on a temporary immigration status their six-month visas were renewable upon approval of their employers. Between 1942 and 1964 , as many as 4.6 million Mexicans came to work under the Bracero Program many workers renewed their visas or entered the program multiple times.

By using guest workers, the Bracero Program enabled the U.S. government to solve the problem of labor shortages while maintaining control over immigration. Nevertheless, the program enhanced a mutual dependency between Mexican workers and American growers. To many Mexican peasants, seasonal work in the United States became an economic strategy, as small savings from temporary employment away from home provided a much needed financial supplement. When the demand for manual labor in the United States outstripped the supply, Mexicans moved across the border in increasing numbers without documentation. Some braceros who were dissatisfied with the terms and conditions of their contracts also found employment elsewhere. In 1954 , the U.S. Border Patrol launched the “Operation Wetback” program to massively deport undocumented migrants, but the number of undocumented Mexican workers increased again after the Bracero Program ended.

The Bracero Program recruited only male workers and required them to leave after fulfilling their contracts. Some women and children crossed the border without inspection to live with their families many women lived in bracero camps and worked alongside male workers in the fields. Domestic labor was another form of employment for these immigrant women. Workers with families tended to stay in the United States longer. In the 1950s and early 1960s, some bracero families gained legal status to settle permanently. 3 After the program ended in 1964 , many former braceros adjusted their legal status and eventually gained citizenship. They played an important role in the growth of Mexican American population. 4

The Repeal of Asian Exclusion

The United States has actively engaged in trade and commerce with Asian nations since the mid-19th century. Two years after Great Britain forced China to open its ports for trade in the Treaty of Nanjing ( 1842 ) following the Opium War, the United States secured concessions from the Qing government through the Treaty of Wanghia (Wangxia). In 1852 , Commodore Matthew C. Perry was dispatched to open the doors of Japan to American trade. His mission was accomplished in the 1854 Treaty of Kanagawa. The United States also took military action against Korea in 1871 and imposed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce on the kingdom in 1882 .

Trade and commerce with Asia led to the movement of people. The Chinese started to arrive during the California Gold Rush ( 1848–1855 ), along with tens of thousands of migrants from Latin America, Europe, and Australia. The Japanese came next, followed by the Koreans. From the British colony also arrived Asian Indians. Once the United States incorporated the Philippines as a territory after the Spanish-American War, Filipinos could enter freely. The Asian population in the United States, however, remained small (about a quarter million) before World War II. An 1882 law and its amendments, known as the Chinese Exclusion Acts, barred the entry of Chinese laborers for sixty-one years. Diplomatic negotiations between the United States and Japan excluded Japanese laborers in 1907 . A 1917 immigration law denied entry to those from the British colony in India. Meanwhile, Asian immigrants were categorized as “alien ineligible for citizenship” by law or court decisions. And finally, the 1924 Immigration Act created an “Asia-Pacific Triangle” to bar immigrants from all Asian countries. Sentiment against Filipino migration played a crucial role in the ideological and moral debate over American empire, leading to the enactment of the 1934 Tydings-McDuffie Act. Granting independence to the Philippines in ten years, the new law changed the status of Filipinos from nationals to aliens and reduced Filipino immigration to fifty per year. These laws prevented Asian immigration and effectively limited the growth of the Asian American population.

Asian exclusion began to end during World War II. The end of Chinese exclusion in 1943 was hardly a genuine measure of immigration reform. Instead, the government used this goodwill gesture to boost China’s resistance against Japanese military aggression in the Pacific. The campaign to abrogate exclusion was led by the Citizen’s Committee to Repeal Chinese Exclusion, organized by a group of “friends of China.” As a political strategy, the Committee kept a distance from Chinese Americans and downplayed the impact of the repeal on Chinese immigration. Endorsed by Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Magnuson Act, named for Representative Warren G. Magnuson (D-WA), repealed all the Chinese exclusion acts, provided an annual quota of 105 for Chinese immigration, and granted Chinese immigrants naturalization rights. Magnuson argued that “the quota system amply puts brakes and complete control over any migrant labor,” and the “purpose of the bill is not in any sense to allow migrant labor, merely to put Chinese, our allies, on equal basis with other countries.” 5 Responding to questions from those who feared a Chinese influx, President Roosevelt assured the Congress that the small Chinese quota would prevent that from happening, and that “there can be no reasonable apprehension that any such number of immigrants will cause unemployment or provide competition in the search of jobs.” 6

The repeal of Chinese exclusion opened the door for other Asian groups almost immediately. In 1946 , the government ended exclusion of Filipinos and Indians, providing the Philippines and India each a quota of one hundred. Pakistan received the same quota after it gained independence in 1947 . Because Japan was the wartime enemy, Japanese exclusion continued for several more years, until 1952 . The McCarran-Walter Act brought Asian exclusion to an end. Adopting the “Asia-Pacific Triangle” concept, it granted each Asian nation an annual quota of one hundred, with a cap of two thousand for the entire continent. The law also made all Asian immigrants eligible for naturalization.

Some scholars view the McCarran-Walter Act as a product of nativism, because it perpetuated the national origins quota system established in the 1924 Immigration Act. Others, however, see it as progressive. Recognizing the limitations of the legislation, Roger Daniels argues that it was the “liberalizing elements in the 1952 act, part of the Cold War transformation of American immigration policy that helped lay the demographic basis for the multiculturalism that emerged in the United States at the end of the twentieth century.” 7

The repeal of exclusion laws indeed laid the demographic basis for the expansion of Asian immigration. Although the number of quota immigrants granted to Asian nations was small, once classified as “admissible,” some Asians were able to come using non-quota status under general immigration laws. Two years after the repeal of Chinese exclusion, the 1945 War Brides Act granted admissions to spouses and children of U.S. military personnel, allowing Chinese American war veterans to bring over their family members. In 1946 this privilege was extended to alien fiancées and fiancés. And in 1946 , another act allowed Chinese wives of American citizens to enter as non-quota immigrants. More than seven thousand Chinese women arrived as spouses or fiancées of war veterans, and many of them came with children. 8 The 1947 amendment of the War Brides Act removed exclusion restrictions, giving admission to spouses and children of American military personnel regardless of their race and nationality. More Asian women arrived in the 1950 s and 1960s under the McCarran-Walter Act, which provided non-quota status for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens. As a byproduct of the postwar U.S. military presence in Asia, thousands of women from Japan, Korean, and the Philippines gained entry to the United States because of their marriage to U.S. military personnel. For the first time, the majority Asian newcomers were female, which helped balance the sex ratio of Asian populations in the United States. The male-to-female ratio among Chinese Americans, for example, went from 2.9 to 1 in 1940 to 1.9 to 1 in 1950 and 1.3 to 1 in 1960 . 9

Formulating Refugee Policies

During and after World War II, the United States emerged as the world’s leading power, which required not only its involvement in international affairs but also new directions for domestic and foreign policy. Refugee policies formulated during this period reflected this change. Pressure to accommodate refugees began during the war. In 1940 , the government used administrative measures to accept thousands of individuals who escaped from Germany and German-occupied Europe. Established in 1944 , the War Refugee Board facilitated the entry of European refugees, the majority of whom were Jewish. Later, the government also developed ways to enable these refugees to become permanent immigrants. 10 The number of refugees admitted during the war was relatively small, but the measures and creative ways to accommodate them and the public debate involved had a lasting impact on U.S. immigration policies.

Immediately after the war, the United States was pressured to deal with the over thirty million dislocated Europeans, including a million displaced persons (DPs) who had been forced from their homelands during the war. President Harry S. Truman issued a directive in 1946 to allocate half of the European quotas for refugee admissions. Enacted in 1948 and amended in 1950 , the displaced persons acts authorized the admission of 202,000 individuals in two years. These measures were developed within the framework of the existing immigration law by allowing nations to mortgage their future quotas. The DP acts eventually admitted four hundred thousand Europeans 16 percent of them were Jewish. 11 From 1949 to 1952 , almost half of the new immigrants were admitted as refugees most of them had no connections with American citizens. In the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act, refugee policies were incorporated into immigration regulation. Because many of the newcomers had no connections in the United States, assistance was provided through voluntary social service networks (VOLAGS). As this practice continued, the VOLAGS and the religious and ethnic groups involved in them also began to influence American immigration policy. 12

International politics during the Cold War led to more lenient immigration policies for those who claimed to be political refugees from communist nations. The increasing pressure to accept more and more political refugees and allow them to adjust their legal status made immigration reform inevitable. The 1953 Refugee Relief Act abandoned the mortgaging practices of the DP acts, admitting 214,000 refugees as non-quota immigrants. 13 Most of those entered as political refugees after World War II were from eastern Europe, and a relatively smaller number admitted were from Asia. The 1950s and 1960s saw an influx of Hungarian refugees who rebelled against the communist government and Cuban refugees after communists took over during the Cuban Revolution. Coming from a western hemisphere nation, the Cubans were not subject to quota restrictions. In 1957 , Congress defined refugees to be those persons fleeing persecution in communist countries or nations in the Middle East. The 1965 Immigration Act included refugees in the preference system and provided a quota of up to 10,200. Although the 1965 Immigration Act imposed a numerical ceiling for western hemisphere nations, President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced an open-door policy for Cuba, promising to admit every refugee from there.

Most successful asylum petitions were filed by individuals from communist countries. In 1987 alone a total of 7,318 of immigrants from the Soviet Union, Poland, and Romania adjusted their status through asylum. In the years since 1990 political asylum was a major means for undocumented individuals or temporary visa holders from China to adjust legal status. A 1989 act provided admissions to three hundred thousand Soviet Jews, Pentecostal Christians, and Armenians. Between 1992 and 2007 , more than 131,000 individuals from war-torn Bosnia and Herzegovina were granted asylum. Like those who came with refugee status, immigrants who were granted asylum could work and receive government assistance.

Cold War politics also brought the United States into the war in Vietnam in the late 1950s. More than half a million U.S. troops were sent to Vietnam fighting against the Northern communist forces in the 1960s. After the gradual withdrawal of American troops, North Vietnamese forces took control of the country. Thousands of Vietnamese fled with the assistance of the American embassy after the fall of Saigon in April 1975 among them were former South Vietnamese officials, military personnel, and individuals who had close ties with Americans. More individuals left by their own means for other nations. This refugee crisis caught the U.S. government unprepared, for the numerical cap provided in the 1965 Immigration Act was far from adequate. Between 1975 and 1979 , Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter used their executive power to create one refugee program after another, allocating more slots each time. Some four hundred thousand refugees were admitted, including not only Vietnamese but also Cambodians and Laotians who fled after communists took power in their countries. The exodus continued throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, as large groups of Southeast Asians crossed the borders to refugee camps in Thailand. Most of those who left after 1978 had little education and could not speak English, and the United States had no choice but to accept most of them. To organize the situation, the 1980 Refugee Act set a cap of fifty thousand refugees each year. Adopting the criteria of the United Nations, the law defined refugees as “any person” who, owing to “a well-founded fear of persecution, on account of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion,” seeks refuge outside of his country. 14 The 1987 Amerasian Homecoming Act also admitted children fathered by American soldiers with Asian women as well as these children’s parents and siblings. Among the one million refugees arriving in the 1980s were some 581,000 from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. For the first time after World War II, more than 70 percent of the refugees admitted were from Asia. The Southeast Asia refugee exodus continued into the early years of 1990s, until the normalization of diplomatic relations with Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. By 2000 more than a million Vietnamese had been admitted.

Abolishing National Origins Quotas

The most important piece of immigration legislation, one that would change the pattern of immigration more profoundly than any other measures, was enacted on October 3, 1965 . Known as the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act (or Hart-Celler Act), the new law abolished the discriminatory national origins quota system established in the 1924 Immigration Act. 15 Whereas the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act allocated a quota of 2,990 for Asia, 1,400 for Africa, and 149,667 for Europe, the new legislation provided each nation an equal annual number of twenty thousand slots. The cap for the total quota for the eastern hemisphere was set at 170,000. The law also imposed a ceiling of 120,000 for the western hemisphere, with no limit for individual nations. A new preference system was introduced, as well as a labor certification program.

The new law was applauded for its emphasis on family unification. It gave non-quota status to immediate family members, including spouses, unmarried minor children, and parents of U.S. citizens. A new preference system also reserved 74 percent of the eastern hemisphere quota for four categories of family members and relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, including unmarried children age twenty-one or older of U.S. citizens, spouses and unmarried children age twenty-one or older of permanent residents, married children age 21 or older of U.S. citizens, and siblings of U.S. citizens. Two of the three remaining categories of the preference system included occupations needed in the United States, such as professionals, scientists, or artists of exceptional ability, as well as skilled and unskilled workers. The last preference provided 6 percent of the total quota for refugees. Western hemisphere immigrants, although not limited by the new preference system, were subject to labor clearance.

Although the Hart-Celler bill was endorsed by the majority of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, some scholars argue that few politicians had anticipated that the new law would change the structure of U.S. immigration. The populations of Asian and African Americans were small in the mid-1960s, which suggested that they would be unlikely to take full advantage of the preference system. In other words, European immigration would continue to be the dominant force. 16 At the signing ceremony in front of the Statue of Liberty, President Lyndon Johnson reassured the public, announcing, “This bill that we will sign today is not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions. It will not reshape the structure of our daily lives.” Right after the ceremony, however, the president admitted to his press secretary, Bill Moyers, in private, “If this was not a revolutionary law, what the blank did we go all the way to New York to sign it for?” 17

Amendments to the 1965 Immigration Act adjusted the proportion of professionals and family members allowed under the quota. In the late 1970s Congress reduced the number of professionals and other workers. Immigrants admitted in these categories were required to have job offers in hand, and their employers were responsible for filing the application for alien employment certificates. In 1986 , the Immigration Reform and Control Act imposed civil and criminal penalties on employers who knowingly hired illegal aliens. The quota number for siblings of citizens was reduced significantly. The Immigration Act of 1990 re-endorsed the family preference system, increased the number of visas for priority workers and professionals with U.S. job offers, and encouraged the immigration of investors. It also created a “diversity visas” program to benefit immigrants from underrepresented countries. 18

Post-World War II Immigration

Changes in U.S. immigration policies during and after World War II had a great impact on contemporary immigration. A major shift was the sources of immigration. In the first three decades of the 20th century, 80 percent of the roughly 28 million immigrants originated from Europe. Deportations of Mexican laborers and implementation of Asian exclusion limited the growth of immigrants from the western hemisphere and Asia. The number of immigrants dropped significantly during the Great Depression and World War II. Although Europeans continued to dominate the immigration statistics in the first two decades after the war, a new pattern began to emerge. In the 1950s over half of the total immigrants came from Europe, and the majority of them arrived from western European countries. In the 1960s, however, immigrants from the western hemisphere would replace those from Europe to become a dominant source.


Western Europeans dominated U.S. immigration statistics until 1890 . Although the number of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe began to rise between 1890 and 1920 , their entry was limited by the national origins quota system created in the 1924 Immigration Act. The 1952 McCarran-Walter Act reaffirmed this policy, providing large quota allotment to Great Britain (65,000), Germany (26,000), and the Republic of Ireland (18,000) out of the 149,667 total for all European immigrants. In contrast, the numbers allotted for Asia and Africa stood at 2,990 and 1,400, respectively. In addition, a large number of Europeans also came as refugees or displaced persons (Table 1).

Table 1. Sources of Immigration to the United States, 1950–2009. Yearbooks of Immigration Statistics, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

1. Data between 1950 and 1990 refer to the Soviet Union. From 1991 to 1999 , data refer to Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Beginning in 2000 , data refer to Russia only.

2. Data include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, and Serbia and Montenegro.

The dominance of western European immigration ended in the 1960s when the number of immigrants from other regions began to rise. By the time the 1965 Immigration Act became effective, several southern European communities in the U.S. were large enough to utilize the new law for family unification. Greek and Italian populations in the United States grew rapidly, followed by the Portuguese and other groups. During the Cold War era, many eastern Europeans, especially those from Hungary, the Soviet Union, Poland, and Romania, gained admissions as refugees (Table 1). At the same time, economic recovery in western European countries provided local opportunities, giving less incentive for people to migrate. Moreover, as the pace of economic growth quickened, Germany, France, Britain, Belgium, and the Netherlands also became destinations of international migration, attracting large numbers of immigrants from southern Europe, the Balkans, Turkey, and Asia. These changes significantly changed the pattern of U.S. immigration.

Most contemporary European immigrants arrived through family unification. A large number of them, especially eastern European immigrants, also came as professionals. Some students who came to seek advanced degrees were able to adjust their legal status upon graduation and receiving U.S.-based job offers. An increasing number of well-educated European professionals came with job-sponsored visas, but many others also came for agricultural and manual work. Poverty rates are high among several eastern European immigrant groups, especially those from Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, and Yugoslavia. 19

Since the late 20th century, European immigration to the United States has been heavily affected by the pace of globalization. The development of the European Union in the 1990s, with the creation of European citizenship, enabled free movements of goods, services, and capital, as well as people. This means that Europeans have many options if they want to relocate. Migrants who gained entry to one European country could also relocate to another. The United States is still attracting European immigrants, especially those with family connections and marketable skills. European workers seeking better employment opportunities, however, could find alternatives in closer destinations, especially when demand for manual labor and agricultural workers increased in Germany, Italy, and Spain. Western Europe itself has become a magnet for immigration.

Table 2. Top Ten Sources of U.S. Immigration, 1950–2009. Yearbooks of Immigration Statistics, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Western Hemisphere

Historical and geographical ties with the United States shaped some of the unique features of western hemisphere immigration. The Monroe Doctrine of 1820 declared the United States had a special interest of in the Americas. Although during the 1930s Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor policy seemed to suggest that the United States might stay out of Latin American affairs, this policy was reversed during the Cold War. Interventions by the United States the in affairs of Latin American countries played an important role in shaping immigration policies toward these countries. Demand for low-wage labor in the United States and poverty at home created economic incentives for U.S.-bound migration from Latin American countries, especially in times of war, civil unrest, and violence. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a total of fifty-four million Hispanics lived in the United States in 2013 , representing 17 percent of the population. More than half of the Hispanic population was Mexicans (64 percent). As Table 1 and Table 2 indicate, immigration from western hemisphere nations grew at a fast pace in the second half of the 20th century, and since the 1960s Mexico has been the most important source of U.S. immigration.

Canada was a major western hemisphere source of immigration in the 1950s, but it could not hold its place a decade later, as an increasing number of the immigrants also began to return to their homeland. The 1960s also witnessed a significant increase of immigrants from other western hemisphere nations, including some 200,000 Cubans, 100,000 Dominicans, and 70,000 Colombians. As indicated in Figure 1, immigrants from the western hemisphere replaced those from Europe to become the driving force of U.S. immigration in the 1960s.

Figure 1. Percentage of Total Immigrants to the United States by Region, 1950–2009 . Yearbooks of Immigration Statistics, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The importance of Mexico in U.S. immigration reflects the close relationship between the two nations. The Bracero Program initiated in 1942 recruited 4.6 million Mexican agricultural workers over a period of twenty-two years. Although the program required the workers to return to Mexico after their contracts ended, some bracero wives and children found ways to come and eventually adjusted their legal status. Many of those remaining in the United States in 1964 also became permanent U.S. residents and later were eligible to send for their families and relatives. Without quota limitation, the number of Mexican immigrants rose quickly, from 61,000 in the 1940s to 300,000 in the 1950s, and to 454,000 during the 1960s. After a ceiling of 120,000 entries per year for western hemisphere immigration was imposed by legislation in 1965 , no national quota limit was set. This allowed Mexican immigrants to take a large share of the hemisphere quota. A 1976 law provided each western hemisphere country with an annual quota of 20,000 and established a preference system. 20 In 1978 , a new law set a worldwide ceiling of 290,000 and established a universal preference system. 21 Because immediate family members of U.S. citizens are not counted, some 680,000 Mexicans gained entry in the 1970s. In the 1990s, Mexico’s share of immigration was 28.2 percent, slightly smaller than the share from all Asian nations (29.3 percent) but significantly larger than that of all European nations (13.8 percent).

Since the Bracero Program, the number of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico has increased, as many migrants adopted a pattern of back-and-forth movement across the border. The dependence of American growers on the supply of low-wage labor from Mexico also bounded the countries together. In the 1980s, a record high of three million Mexicans gained entry, including 2.3 million undocumented individuals under the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). The new law also tightened border patrols and imposed penalties for hiring undocumented immigrants, but several million more still arrived between 1990 and 2010 . Of an estimated 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States in 2012 , about 59 percent were from Mexico.

The Cuban exodus to the United States reflected deteriorating relations between the two countries. From 1959 and the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 , more than one hundred thousand refugees were admitted to the United States many of them were educated or had professional skills. Those that came between 1965 and 1973 were more numerous but less well-to-do. In the chaotic exodus of the Mariel boatlift in 1980 , which lasted for 162 days, the United States Coast Guard assisted more than one thousand vessels carrying refugees from the small fishing port of Mariel west of Havana to South Florida, bringing 125,000 individuals, including a large number of blacks and unskilled workers. That year alone, some 350,000 Cubans gained entry, which was more than the annual total allotted for all immigrants. Although there were no formal diplomatic relations between the two countries, the United States reached an agreement with Cuba in 1996 and granted the country an annual quota of 20,000. 22 By 2000 , some 900,000 Cubans were admitted as refugees. An annual average of more than 30,000 individuals gained entry since then. A program administered by the Department of Homeland Security in 2006 also brought six thousand medical professionals from Cuba. Cuban immigrants built a large ethnic community in Miami, which became the most desirable destination for newcomers.

Increasing numbers of immigrants also arrived from several other western hemisphere nations. The Dominican Republic, which had a historical tie with the United States (U.S troops occupied the island nation for eight years from 1916 to 1924 ), began to send large numbers in the 1960s. In the years after 1970 , an annual average of twenty-five thousand Dominicans have been admitted, and those who came as tourists and overstayed their visas or who arrived in the United States via Puerto Rico were largely uncounted. Many Dominican immigrants could enjoy dual citizenship after 1994 , which further encouraged migration. War, violence, poverty, and natural disasters also encouraged immigration from Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, and other Central American nations. The Nicaraguans began to arrive in large numbers in the 1960s and joined Cuban immigrants in Florida, especially Miami. Most immigrants from Guatemala and El Salvador were from rural backgrounds. In 1997 , the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act granted amnesty to tens of thousands of Central Americans (Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, etc.) who had arrived by that year. Asylum was rarely granted for undocumented immigrants who arrived after 1997 . South America, especially Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, and Venezuela, began to send large numbers of immigrants in the 1970s. From that continent about one half million migrants arrived in the 1990s, and an average of seventy-five thousand arrived annually in the first decade of the 21st century.

Jamaica and Haiti are two major Caribbean sending nations. Jamaica was the tenth largest source of immigration in the 1970s and climbed to seventh in the following decade. Although most Haitians came as refugees, the United States did not treat them the same as they did Cubans. Several thousand Haitians fled from the increasingly authoritarian government before 1960 . Most of the ninety thousand Haitians who came between 1961 and 1980 were poor and had little education they left to escape poverty, violence, and political turmoil. After 1980 , more Haitians landing on American soil were undocumented. Fleeing from right-wing tyrants instead of communism, Haitians were often classified as economic migrants rather than political refugees, which led to frequent rejection of their petitions for asylum. Those who arrived before 1982 were eligible for amnesty under IRCA. In 1990 , the Haitian Fairness Refugee Act provided a means for over twenty thousand individuals to adjust their legal status. As many Haitians became American citizens, they could sponsor family members, but undocumented immigrants continued to arrive. As members of the poorest immigrant group, many Haitians could not find decent jobs due to their limited education levels, lack of English proficiency, and in some cases poor health.

After several decades of exclusion, the Asian American population began to grow slowly in the postwar years. The majority of the early immigrants from Asian were male in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The repeal of exclusion laws, though with a small quota for each country, made it possible for women and children to gain admission outside the quota system. After World War II, family-centered Asian American communities began to develop.

The 1965 Immigration Act had a profound impact on Asian immigration. For the first time, Asian countries were placed on the same basis as European countries. The law increased the quota for each Asian country more than one hundredfold, making large-scale immigration from the continent possible. The new law also opened the door for professional labor, allowing Asians with occupational qualifications to come.

Whereas the 1965 Immigration Act opened the door wide to Asian immigration, not all countries took the full quota allotment. Most Asian countries did not have large population base in the United States at the time. Among the five established Asian American communities—Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, and Indian, only three were able to benefit from the new law within a relatively short time. Filipino Americans took the lead. By then, there was a large population of Filipinos living in the United States. Political instability and economic problems in Philippines were the major incentives for emigration. Due to the U.S. colonization of the Philippines in the first half of the 20th century ( 1900–1946 ), Filipinos were quite familiar with American culture and society. Educated in an American-style school system, most young Filipinos could speak English, which made the United States the most desirable destination for prospective migrants. Those trained in the medical profession, especially nurses, were welcomed by American hospitals. With established family networks in this country and marketable skills, it was relatively easy for Filipino immigrants to adjust their lives in America. In the decade of the 1960s, the Philippines emerged as one of the top ten immigrant-sending countries. It ranked second, behind Mexico, for the three decades between 1970 and 2000 (see Table 2).

The Korean immigrant population in the United States was relatively small before 1945 . After the Korean War, however, many Korean wives of American servicemen gained entry under the McCarran-Walter Act as wives of U.S. citizens. Small groups of students also gained entry during this period. These military brides and some established students were among the first to sponsor their family members and relatives after 1965 . In the 1960s and 1970s the South Korean government encouraged emigration to reduce the pressure of its growing population. By then, the presence of American troops in Korea after the Korean War and frequent exchanges between the two nations had exposed South Koreans to the material advantages of American way of life. Streams of emigration to the United States began almost immediately after the 1965 Immigration Act became effective. Regardless of their skills and educational background, many Korean immigrants became self-employed, because it was difficult for them to find employment. During the three decades between 1970 and 1999 , Korea was one of the top ten immigrant-sending countries.

The South Asian immigrant population was small before 1945 . In the two decades after World War II, some Indian students came to study science, engineering, medicine, and business. Once these students settled in the United States, they became the core node of the immigration network for family unification. Since 1970 , India has made the list of the top ten sending nations every decade. In addition to family members and students, Indian immigration to the United States was facilitated by the employment-based preference. In the 2014 fiscal year, Indians accounted for 70 percent of the 316,000 H1-B petitions. 23 As indicated in Table 1, the Indian share of total immigrants increased steadily from 3.5 percent in the years 1970–1979 to 5.7 percent in 2000–2009 . The partition of Pakistan from India in 1948 and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 also affected the immigration from South Asia. Once they were independent, the two nations received separate quotas. Pakistani immigrants began to increase significantly in the 1980s. After a slow start, Bangladesh also emerged as an important source of immigration in the 21st century.


I am creating my syllabus for my U.S. history course since 1945. Because the course is at least as much thematic as chronological, I am creating a 100 most important events list to include in the syllabus. Here's what I came up with. Comments? Anything egregious that I am missing? Anything dumb that I have included?

  1. August 6, 1945—U.S. drops atomic bomb on Japan World War II ends 8 days later
  2. 1946—Winston Churchill gives “Iron Curtain” speech in Missouri, tensions rise between United States and Soviet Union
  3. 1946-63—Baby Boom—record amount of births in a period of economic growth and increased consumerism leads to the most dominant and self-conscious generation in American history.
  4. 1947—Unveiling of Truman Doctrine, announcing the U.S. would do everything in its power to contain communism
  5. 1947—Marshall Plan enacted, providing American aid in rebuilding western and southern Europe, advances the Cold War significantly
  6. 1948—Berlin Airlift shows American resolve against the spread of communism and Soviet aggression
  7. 1949—Creation of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
  8. 1949—China becomes communist, Republicans use event to paint Democrats as “soft on communism”
  9. 1950—Senator Joseph McCarthy asserts he has list of communists in the State Department. Although he has no such list, McCarthy builds upon national fear of communism to make himself the nation’s most powerful individual. Eventually falls in 1954 after accusing the military of communist sympathies. Nonetheless, McCarthy defines the 1950s as a decade of suppression of left-leaning thought and action.
  10. 1950-53—Korean War
  11. 1951—U.S. tests hydrogen bomb
  12. 1951—Release of The Day the Earth Stood Still, beginning of science fiction films standing in for American fears about the Cold War
  13. 1952—First rock and roll concert in Cleveland
  14. 1953—Execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for treason
  15. 1953—Hugh Hefner launches Playboy magazine
  16. 1954—Supreme Court declares segregation unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education
  17. 1954—Television becomes increasingly common
  18. 1955—Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by a young Martin Luther King
  19. 1955—American Federation of Labor (AFL) and Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) merge, signaling an end to the great period of American labor organizing.
  20. 1956—Elvis Presley becomes international star, rock and roll becomes music of America’s youth
  21. 1956—President Eisenhower signs Interstate Highway Act, leading to massive government investment in road building and disinvestment in American downtowns and public transportation
  22. 1957—Federal court orders Little Rock to desegregate schools, violence results and forces federal government to intervene.
  23. 1957—USSR launches Sputnik, beginning of Space Race
  24. 1959—Cuban Revolution brings Fidel Castro to power
  25. 1960𔃌 North Carolina A&T students begin sit-in at Greensboro lunch counter, begins sit-in movement around South.
  26. 1960—Food and Drug Administration approves birth control pill for general use
  27. 1961—Freedom Rides test willingness of federal government to enforce desegregation decisions, violence results.
  28. 1961—Bob Dylan releases first album
  29. 1961—East Germans raise Berlin Wall
  30. 1962—Cuban Missile Crisis—U.S. and Soviet Union come dangerously close to nuclear war
  31. 1962—Rachel Carson publishes Silent Spring, exposing the terrible environmental damage of pesticides and the chemical industry, eventually leads to banning of DDT and other toxic pesticides.
  32. 1963—Birmingham campaign of civil rights movement, Martin Luther King leads March on Washington to pressure President Kennedy to support civil rights legislation
  33. 1963—Betty Friedan publishes The Feminine Mystique, frequently seen as beginning of modern women’s movement
  34. 1963—Assassination of John F. Kennedy
  35. 1964—Gulf of Tonkin resolution, giving tremendous power to make war to the presidency, significantly ramps up American involvement in Vietnam
  36. 1964—Freedom Summer in Mississippi—attempt to register African-Americans to vote, violence results throughout Mississippi
  37. 1964—Civil Rights Act of 1964
  38. 1964—Republican Party nominates Barry Goldwater as its presidential candidate, marking the rise of modern conservatism. Lyndon Johnson defeats Goldwater in landslide, but conservatives see marked gains in elections of 1966 and 1968.
  39. 1964—Lyndon Johnson signs Wilderness Act of 1964
  40. 1964-1968—President Johnson launches his Great Society, including establishment of Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and dozens of other programs intended to lift Americans out of poverty.
  41. 1965—Voting Rights Act of 1965
  42. 1965—Murder of Malcolm X in New York City
  43. 1965—Immigration Act of 1965 ends revokes restrictive and racist immigration legislation of 1920s, begins rise of Latin American and Asian migration to the U.S.
  44. 1965—César Chávez and United Farm Workers begin Delano grape strike, call for national grape boycott
  45. 1965—Ralph Nader publishes Unsafe at Any Speed, attacking unsafe General Motors cars. Nader becomes leader of consumer rights movement and one of America’s most influential figures through the late 1970s.
  46. 1965-70—rise of Black Power movement, eventually crushed by FBI-led murders of leading Black Power advocates
  47. 1966—National Organization of Women (NOW) founded
  48. 1966—California becomes first state to make LSD illegal, nation soon follows, but far too late to stop spread of drug
  49. 1966—Martin Luther King takes civil rights movement to the North violent protests against housing desegregation in Chicago.
  50. 1967—Summer of Love in San Francisco, hippie movement becomes increasingly prominent
  51. 1967—Bonnie and Clyde hits the theatres, destroying the restrictive code that guarded the morality of movies for 33 years and launching a new era of American film.
  52. 1967—Reies López Tijerina leads raid upon county courthouse in New Mexico in protest over lands stolen from native New Mexicans.
  53. 1968—Tet Offensive puts lie to President Johnson’s proclamations that the Vietnam War is almost won. Lyndon Johnson chooses not to run for reelection.
  54. 1968—Assassination of Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tennessee
  55. 1968—Assassination of Robert Kennedy by Palestinian nationalist Sirhan Sirhan.
  56. 1968—Brutal beatings of protestors at Democratic National Convention in Chicago, open warfare on the convention floor.
  57. 1968—Alabama Governor George Wallace runs for president on openly segregationist platform, wins significant support in North—rise of white backlash to civil rights movement.
  58. 1968—Richard Nixon wins presidency behind power of white backlash
  59. 1969—Americans land on moon
  60. 1969—Stonewall Rebellion in New York City marks first open resistance of gays to police repression, launches gay rights movement
  61. 1969—increasingly radical women’s movement protests at Miss America pageant in Atlantic City
  62. 1969—Cuyahoga River catches fire in Cleveland, drawing attention to massive environmental problems
  63. 1969—Woodstock music festival in New York
  64. 1970—Environmentalism becomes prominent first Earth Day protests, creation of Environmental Protection Agency to enforce increasing number of environmental laws and regulatory agencies.
  65. 1970—President Nixon invades Cambodia, leading to massive protests, including killing of students at Kent State University and Jackson State University
  66. 1971—MASH begins its run as the most popular television show in American history
  67. 1972—Equal Rights Amendment passes Congress, but rise of conservatism dooms it in state legislatures.
  68. 1972—Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev conclude talks on Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, the most important treaty controlling the nuclear arms race
  69. 1972—Passage of Title IX, greatly expanding women’s access to college sports
  70. 1973—U.S. pulls out of South Vietnam, Vietnam united under North Vietnamese leadership in 1975
  71. 1973—American Indian Movement seizes Wounded Knee, South Dakota, leading to violent standoff with FBI
  72. 1973—passage of Endangered Species Act, leads to revival of threatened species such as the bald eagle, wolf, and grizzly bear.
  73. 1973—First large-scale economic crisis since Great Depression, leads to high unemployment and long-term economic uncertainty that lasts through remainder of 1970s.
  74. 1973—Roe v. Wade legalizes abortion
  75. 1974—Watergate scandal comes to light, resignation of President Richard Nixon
  76. 1977—Apple introduces Apple II, the first prominent personal computer
  77. 1978—California passes Proposition 13, drastically cutting property taxes
  78. 1979—Iranian radicals take over American embassy, hold dozens of Americans hostage until 1981.
  79. 1979—Three Mile Island incident—near nuclear meltdown ends period of nuclear power growth in U.S.
  80. 1980—election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency
  81. 1980s—President Reagan launches “War on Drugs,” results lead to imprisonment of 20% of young black men on nonviolent drug charges.
  82. 1981—AIDS first recognized, Reagan administration ignores it as gay disease until 1985, setting back research and dooming thousands to early deaths.
  83. 1981-87—Reagan administration supports right-wing movements in Central America, leading to civil wars and the deaths of tens of thousands.
  84. 1986—Iran-Contra scandal comes to light, embarrassing Reagan administration
  85. 1986—Challenger Space Shuttle explodes, event watched by nearly all schoolchildren because first teacher to enter space was onboard national interest in space program declines
  86. 1987—Supreme Court recognizes legality of Indian gaming
  87. 1989—Fall of Berlin Wall heralds end of Cold War, breakup of USSR in 1991 ensures its end.
  88. 1991—First Gulf War begins period of long-term American military involvement in the Middle East.
  89. 1992—creation of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), expands both globalization and outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs abroad.
  90. 1993—Internet becomes prominent
  91. 1994—Republicans win massive gains in Congress, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich issues “Contract with America”
  92. 1994—California voters pass Proposition 187, designed to deny undocumented migrants all state services, leads to backlash against Republican Party and makes California a Democratic stronghold based upon Latino votes.
  93. 2000—Disputed presidential election, Supreme Court gives election to George W. Bush, voting on a strictly partisan basis
  94. September 11, 2001—terrorists attack the United States, over 2000 dead, begins “War on Terror,” invasion of Afghanistan, etc.
  95. 2003—President George W. Bush orders invasion of Iraq
  96. 2003—Latinos pass African-Americans as nation’s largest minority group
  97. 2007—Global recession begins, no end in sight as of fall 2010
  98. 2008—election of Barack Obama to the presidency
  99. 2010—Arizona passes restrictive anti-immigration legislation, resurgence of racism and nativism throughout U.S.
  100. 2010—summer of 2010 sees record high temperatures around nation, flooding around the world, global climate change reaches critical tipping point.

Note: Already I noticed that I didn't include anything on the oil embargo.

More Comments:

C Ferg - 12/20/2006

Compared to the first and second great immigration to this country. This third immigration has by far greater educational attainment, better economic status and more ties to the country. The Europeans that arrived here were allowed the time and given the support and resources in order to achieve the American dream. Can you imagine what Phillipino RN's (who came with that degree) will achieve if given the same time and resources. Because in 2006 (going on 7,) the Right has tried (for many decades) to make if difficult for immigrants to get here, they indirectly raised the bar. When peasant Europeans stepped off the boat in New York Harbor they had nothing but a dream. And despite many negative attitudes towards them, it was never the level of recism and hatred that White America perpetrates aginst any other skin color. SO before you open your mouth, check your facts. Don't try to use the bit that you know to twist the facts.

Tom Kellum - 12/28/2002

Today's NYT (12-28-02) has an editorial titled "The Welcome Mat Frays"). This editorial is ostensibly about arbitraily refusing entry to those fleeing "oppression." Of course, you could be working in a Nike factory in Lower Slobovia or Nikejistan, and feel like you're being oppressed. Or, you could be selling chiclets on a busy Mexico City street, and feel oppressed. No doubt a strong case could be made in either instance.

It's easy to sell immigration, if you ignore the costs. And, it's easy to "buy" it even if you don't own shares in a diaper company or apartment development firm etc. And, if your company profits from having cheap labor use loud devices to blow dirt, dust, and leaves around town, you could feel downright patriotic at the thought of more immigrants in your area.

Have some. Today. In new, easy-to-swallow, propaganda form.

Ben Johnson - 12/27/2002

Mr. Moner has conveniently insisted on having the last word, twice insisting he won't be back until after the New Year.

Having seen such an intellectually dishonest move, I am not at all surprised that he failed to respond to my answer of these exact charges. For those who missed the thread, it is located here:

In the interim, the questions for Mr. Moner to answer are simple:

1) Where is the proof that massive immigration improves the U.S. economy markedly? I gave my response in the thread cited above Mr. Moner chose not to respond with anything but more epithets.

2) Why his own obsession on race?

3) Why must he impute racist motivations to this author? A clear reading of my article shows it was the Congress, indeed the leftist senators themselves, who mentioned these as potential threats, before assuring the country none would come to pass. Is it "racist" to point out they were wrong? Is it insensitive to point out that Spanish is the official language of a few American cities and the de facto native tongue of other areas, including such unlikely places as Ligonier, Indiana?

4) At what point is Mr. Moner responsible to answer for his vacuous, reason-free diatribe and called to prove anything he says with a factual citation, which is, after all, the business of historians.

Mr. Moner, anyone who has read your non-responses to this thread must agree with Mr. Brady that, indeed, you do spend too much time writing. Have a restful retirement.

Gus Moner - 12/27/2002

Gus Moner - 12/27/2002

Schartzkoppff, Powell, Kellum, Rice, Bush, Reagan, Kennedy, Nixon, Moner, Wellstone, Westmoreland, Humphrey, Goldwater, Eisenhower, Kissinger, Schultz, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld where did their families come from? Nevada native-breeding caves?

Gus Moner - 12/27/2002

What is the problem with the immigrants, Mr Johnson? Some of us just don't get the point. Their "blindness" has given us some rather good economic development.

Gus Moner - 12/27/2002

No, no! Mr. Kellum, where did I say no restrictions on immigration? Aghast. I do admire, really, how you can take my arguments to the absurd end of the logic. Sometimes it’s brilliant. On the one hand, that isn’t always indicative of the flaw of flawlessness of an argument, as Hitler’s proved. On the other, I admit and appreciate that it shows you at least get them, even if you happily disagree!

Neither choice you offer looks good. Try building something better. I agree it disgracefully advantages capitalists, however, other people down the ladder, perhaps even you and I, have benefited as well. The question is how to get the growth and development without the social ill of an increasing gap between capitalists, corporate directors and their lot and the real lot of us.

I’m off on holidays, so I shan’t be bothering for a while. Happy New Year.

Gus Moner - 12/27/2002

Mr. Johnson, I would draw your attention to the comment you made, that “Jesse Lemisch's far-left tirade against war in Iraq did no such thing, yet its radical bias failed to draw Mr. Kahan's ire”. I would say that radical or far left is not the same as racist or white supremacist. Perhaps that's the difference.

You kindly shared your qualifications with us, no dout to put us at ease that this was a clever person writing. that was obvious. Notwithstanding the qualifications, indicating that you are indeed clever, that has no bearing on whether you put a racist, white supremacist biased article on the web or not. So, you should come up with a better explanation.

You go on to say: “Yet experts warned that ‘relationship by blood or marriage and the principle of reuniting families have become the 'open Sesame' to the immigration gates" and "make apparently inevitable a change in the ethnic face of the nation".

There you go again. What is the problem if the ethnic face of the nation changes? You’re walking in Mississippi Delta swampland.

You also mention that “The quota system in part responded that an unbridled influx of immigrants threatened that very prosperity with declining wages. And in part quotas were driven by racialist nonsense. My article in no way defends the quota system it merely points out the base deception or ignorance of the 1965 Immigration Reform Act's sponsors, which criticism Mr. Kahan deems "beyond the pale."

I agree you do point that element of error and ignorance up. Notwithstanding, you fail utterly to explain what is the problem with the result. Implicit in the frequent mentions of the racial make-up of the nation is its negativity, which you regurgitate with extremely racist references to the changing the face of the nation or its ethnic make up, as if it were the opening night of Sodom and Gomorra. The predictions were wrong, and so was last night’s weather forecast. What is the harm? Liberals got it ‘wrong’ in their predictions? Why the racist citations throughout, then?

Finally you say: “Mr. Kahan's only desire is to bully the establishment to enforce his (apparently) own ultra-liberal orthodoxy upon all historical discussion, dispatching anything not that does not coincide with his own views down the memory-hole. However, history, if it is to remain vibrant, must allow for judgment. The very purpose of studying history is to gain perspective over time. Investigating the shortcomings of leftist utopian rhetoric - the point of the article - is hardly "beyond the pale." Smearing dissidents with hateful rhetoric and demanding their public silencing in a transparent display of politically motivated bias demeans himself and cheapens the public image of the institution with which he is affiliated”.

In my view, Mr Kahan has not tried to bully anyone. He’s just pointed up the racist, white supremacist tone and quotes the article included, rightly condemning along the way the inaccuracies and statistical manipulation out of context, which you have cleverly, as befits your high marks at school, put forth as a substitute for real scholarly work without white supremacist hues.

Indeed it is you who have 'smeared' immigrants, of whom you are no doubt a descendant of, with ‘hateful rhetoric’ ‘in a transparent display of politically motivated bias’ cheapening historiography. Your frequent and rabid left wing-right wing rhetoric points up your political rather than historical motivation and ultimate bias. You may have a point, but its racist, not historical, The point, as you put it: “Investigating the shortcomings of leftist utopian rhetoric” clearly states your intent, not historical research, perspective or vibrant judgement.

It is not for me to say you should or shouldn’t be published. You obviously ought to be published somewhere. Therefore, bear in mind that the question raised was whether here is the appropriate forum.

I am going on holidays, as Mr. Brady feels I spend too much time writing and not enough with my family. See you all after the new year has come, and may it be a peaceful and healthy one for us all.

Mark safranski - 12/27/2002

While I cannot say I agree with everything in Mr. Johnson's article, particularly the economic effects of immigration aspect, he is raising a number of legitimate points about immigration policy that ought to be debated. When the INS is refusing entry to Chinese physicists and theoretical mathematicians but several hundred thousand illiterate to semi-illiterate campesinos receive preference something is seriously askew. Entry to the United States should be governed by American interests and be periodically changed accordingly as conditions evolve.

To impugn Mr. Johnson's motives as Mr. Kahan has done, as " racist " is a simple-minded ad hominem attack designed to shut down debate and intimidate the editors of HNN.

If Mr. Kahan desires to see the face of modern fascism I suggest he look in the mirror.

Tom Kellum - 12/27/2002

By Mr. Moner's logic, we should have no restrictions on immigration. If we let in five million more immigrants in 2003, then the profits from all of the consumer products they purchase, the rent they pay, the lower wages they earn. it will all flow back to the "capitalists." In Mr. Moner's logic, it wouldn't be greedy to let in ten million. Why stop at five million? They're all new customers whose purchases will increase sales and profits for "capitalists." So, open the door!

Now, as for the impact on the rest of us well, Mr. Moner, one supposes, would tell us we're racists, and we should remember the virtues of social Darwinism.

For me personally, it's a tough choice: whether to choose the China model, or that of India. After all, the "capitalists" in those nations live in walled compounds. far from the teeming masses. The capitalists there are all doing quite well, thank you. Let us praise them for being successful.

Ben Johnson - 12/27/2002

Mr. Kahan, may I begin this piece by noting the odd combination of imputing Nazism and the endorsement of my article by David Horowitz, hardly the second coming of Gerald L.K. Smith!

Secondly, the point of his hatefest-masquerading-as-commentary (to the extent such a thing is discernible) seems to be that my article did not present every conceivable side of the issue. Come, come Jesse Lemisch's far-left tirade against war in Iraq did no such thing, yet its radical bias failed to draw Mr. Kahan's ire. Ditto Derek Alger's castigation of Senator Trent Lott as "ignorant, racist, stupid, or offensive" and his invitation for Lott to "find another country to be part of."

Coincidentally, Mr. Alger's only identification is as a "freelance writer," and not even David Horowitz published his piece! (Incidentally, I graduated with a history degree summa cum laude, am working on a graduate degree and am a member of Phi Beta Kappa.)

Third, I suppose it matters little the ethnic organizations in question did in fact anticipate greater numbers of immigrants from their proposed reforms - indeed, hoped and prayed for it. Ethnic groups excluded by the quota system - Eastern and Southern Europeans - hoped to increase immigration from their homelands. Jewish organizations had, since the 1920s, pushed for family reunification as a cornerstone of immigration policy. Yet experts warned that "relationship by blood or marriage and the principle of reuniting families have become the 'open Sesame' to the immigration gates" and "make apparently inevitable a change in the ethnic face of the nation."

Numerous ethnic groups hoped to allow as many of their countrymen as possible to enjoy American prosperity. The quota system in part responded that an unbridled influx of immigrants threatened that very prosperity with declining wages. And in part quotas were driven by racialist nonsense. My article in no way defends the quota system it merely points out the base deception or ignorance of the 1965 Immigration Reform Act's sponsors, which criticism Mr. Kahan deems "beyond the pale."

Mr. Kahan's only desire is to bully the establishment to enforce his (apparently) own ultra-liberal orthodoxy upon all historical discussion, dispatching anything not that does not coincide with his own views down the memory-hole. However, history, if it is to remain vibrant, must allow for judgment. The very purpose of studying history is to gain perspective over time. Investigating the shortcomings of leftist utopian rhetoric - the point of the article - is hardly "beyond the pale." Smearing dissidents with hateful rhetoric and demanding their public silencing in a transparent display of politically motivated bias demeans himself and cheapens the public image of the institution with which he is affiliated.

Mr. Kahan should issue a public retraction of his transgression against history.

Ben Johnson - 12/27/2002

What is Mr. Montana's point? It seems to me the problem is our national policy and the blindness of the 1965 bill's architects or is it Jeanne Dixon in reverse?

Ben Johnson - 12/27/2002

Mr. Kellum is correct that if wages were to rise for "undesirable" employment, the "labor shortage" would disappear, as well. Conservatives have done nothing because large firms rake in most of the gains of immigration: lower wages, fear of displacement and the tranquility of a willing and compliant workforce. (Immigrants are used to worse working conditions than their native counterparts and are less likely to agitate for union rights.) Whether this is good or bad is a matter of debate, but the issue seems a valid and overdue topic for just such a dialogue.

Ben Johnson - 12/27/2002

Mr. Dresner has made an interesting reply to my article, alleging "errors and oversights." He then points out no errors.

My article makes no comment whatever on whether the racial/ethnic composition should remain static vis-a-vis 1965 standards the leftists who backed the bill apparently did so, arguing, as they did, that no such changes would occur.

The thrust of my article is the broken promises of the pro-immigration crowd in 1965. They proved their insights faulty (or their arguments deliberately specious). History has judged them misleading. Whether ethnic composition is good or bad is another matter I simply noted the failed forecasts of this "reform" law's sponsors.

Secondly, as the article documents, immigrants are more likely than non-immigrants to receive state or federal assistance. If this is false, document your source. I sincerely doubt this will occur, as your objections seem to stem from an emotional knee-jerk reaction of ill-will to numerical curtailment of immigration, a policy supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans. If you see a factual mistake, as you claim to have, document it forthwith. Your failure to do so will serve as your intellectual indictment.

Ben Johnson - 12/27/2002

In Mr. Moner's ramblings (which occasionally touch on the subject of the article), not only are "the premises all flawed here," but likewise the conclusions, asides and ad hominem attacks are devoid of substance, reason and grace.

For one, there is no "allegedly low immigration period between 1924-1965." During this time, 270,000 immigrants entered the country more than three times that many legal immigrants entered America in 1996. Mr. Moner's belief that numerical data are debatable is reflective of his approach to the rest of the article, and apparently reality itself.

Despite his vituperations, the economy seese nearly no benefit of high immigration - particularly that of unskilled (non)laborers. According to George Borjas, the foremost scholar in the impact of immigrants on the economy, immigrants may contribute as much as $7 billion to the overall U.S. economy. This miniscule amount is more than offset by lower American wages, higher welfare expenditures, expenses for educating newly naturalized children (often in their own language) and lost productivity through an imprecise grasp of the English language. Mr. Moner has understandably left these facts out of his response.

Mr. Moner is certainly correct in asserting that no brains were used in creating the family reunification provisions of the bill. These new immigrants may then send for their family members, who in turn send for their family members, ad infinitem. In some nations, the waiting list for family members alone is filled for more than a decade, obliterating the hopes of any skilled immigrantion from that land.

Perhaps Mr. Moner would do well to look over the data within the article, as well. One million immigrants enter the country each year. A total of 31 million (legal) immigrants live here, comprising more than 11 percent of the population.

German-speaking Amish certainly seem to regard themselves as an ethnic anomaly in the Midwest, referring to the rest of us as "the English." However, the point is Amish have lived in the area for more than a century, yet within 10 years the landscape of middle America has been consciously transformed. (The Elkhart, Indiana, Chamber of Commerce advertised job openings in the area along the Mexican border. odd, given that Appalachia suffers under 25 percent unemployment.)

However, most telling is the overall lack of relationship between his critique and the article I wrote. In his haste to impute sinister, racist motivations to my work, Mr. Moner (a phonetically appropriate surname to be sure) missed the entire thrust of the article: the proponents of the 1965 immigration law were either blithely obtuse about its consequences or deceptive about their intentions. Their sincerest assurances (all specifically quoted in the text) have proven false, and in the process the legislation "has realized many of its critics' worst nightmares." Whether these changes are good or bad deserves a better debate than they it received in 1965, gaining from the benefit of hindsight.

Perhaps this last is what separates the two of us. The conservative believes in learning from history, while the leftist believes his philosophical incantations empower him to defy or (heaven help us) guide it. The results of this 24-year immigration experiment tell us that this policy has failed. Civil rights for non-citizens is utopian doggerel. It is hardly racist to point out the failed prophecies of the left, nor to debate whether exponential immigration surges are in our own well-being. Should Mr. Moner wish to engage in this debate, and in that foray possibly spice up his argument with facts, he would be more than welcome.

And incidentally, happy holidays.

Tom Kellum - 12/26/2002

"Rubbish" collectors and nurses work mainly at for-profit organizations in the U.S.A. Therefore, what they are paid is not related to tax rates.

Let me repeat that there is NO labor SHORTAGE in the U.S.A..
There is a labor SURPLUS. If the surplus (Bus. welfare) were to vanish tomorrow, wages would rise, and plenty of people would be in line for jobs at lawn maintenance companies etc. Certain jobs here, and abroad, have never, and will never, appeal to educated people. However there are plenty of relatively un-skilled persons here who would certainly take those jobs if the wages were higher (they did 25 years ago, and they would today).

It is only because politicians pass "Business Welfare" legislation that we have a labor SURPLUS. Reduce the labor surplus and the resultant higer wages would attract plenty of applicants for available jobs. Those companies unable to raise their prices accordingly would then face the same consequences of the capitalistic system as other businesses must. (The lawn maintenance industry and other low-wage service businesses might have a good argument that they are being singled out for UNfair cuts in "their" corporate welfare, but that is another issue.)

Michael Kahan - 12/26/2002

The History News Network claims to present the views of "historians." Although your "raison d'etre" indicates that you operate independently of George Mason University, there is a clear implication that your writers, whatever their political persuasions, will live up to the standards of balance, fairness, honesty, and accuracy that are widely accepted for academic historical inquiry. That includes, as your web site says, recognizing and presenting "the complexity of history." I was shocked, then, to see that you posted the simplistic, misleading writings of Ben Johnson on American immigration policy ("The High Price Today of Immigration Reform in 1965," HNN 12-23-02). While there is clearly room for legitimate disagreement on the controversial topic of immigration, Johnson's piece lies far beyond the pale. It is a very thinly veiled white supremacist attack on non-white immigration since 1965. It praises the "common national culture" ostensibly created by America's "European ethnic groups," while expressing undisguised revulsion at Mexicans, Asians, and Africans. It describes an America "inundated by culturally alien foreigners" where "native Americans feel themselves pushed out," the victims of "long forgotten grudges." The penultimate paragraph pushes the essay over the edge into territory properly reserved for the KKK and the National Alliance. Here Johnson places the blame for the increase in non-European immigration primarily on American Jews (although he allows a role for Catholics and "liberals" as well). In his conspiratorial worldview, the politicians who voted for the 1965 immigration reform bill failed to foresee its consequences, but the "Jewish organizations" who duped them knew all along what the results would be. Johnson's historical qualifications appear to be nil he is identified as a "freelance writer" whose only endorsement seems to be from David Horowitz's far-right, which originally published this piece. One of Johnson's most egregious misstatements is his suggestion that the national quota system that existed prior to 1965 admitted ethnic groups in "fair proportion" to their presence in the population. In fact, the 1924 quota system (still largely in place until 1965) admitted groups in proportion to their presence in the US in 1890, a date chosen precisely to ensure that admissions would *not* fairly reflect the representation of Jews, Italians, Greeks, Slavs, and others who had immigrated in large numbers between 1890 and 1924. I urge HNN to publish a public retraction of the neo-fascist rantings of Ben Johnson, and to more carefully screen contributions in the future to ensure that they meet minimal standards for historical accuracy and fairness. Yours truly, Michael Kahan University of Pennsylvania

Gus Moner - 12/26/2002

It is not puzzling why no one has done anything about this situation. Perhaps, contrary to the paranoiac fear mongering about the voodoo of immigration, it is simply not a significant problem.
I agree with some of Mr Kellum’s comments, not with others nor the underlying implication we have an immigration problem of vast magnitude. It is not a liberal-conservative issue. It’s a national economic issue, and neither party seems to see the need to trifle with what is working.

The reliance on new labourers to keep costs down is indeed a form of welfare for some big industries and businesses. No one has mentioned it is a boon for taxi services, rubbish collectors, deliveries, garden centres, farmhands, etc. However, the underlying cause remains- that people born in plentiful nations simply do not want to do their rubbish collection and lawn maintenance. This scenario is unfolding in practically all the developed economies.

The Germans imported ‘guest workers’ in the 1960’s till early 80’s because, they alleged, the impact of war time casualties had left them with labour shortages during their ‘economic miracle’ years. However, the plain fact was and is that prosperous Germans didn’t want to collect their own rubbish anymore. Likewise now, when 2 million are unemployed and there are still labour shortages. Unlike US citizens, Europeans are more tribal and hometown community oriented. They dislike moving from one region to another. It is the same story in Belgium, Sweden, Italy… people who have grown up in a land of plenty feel others should do the demeaning, poorly paid work. Which begs the question, why are such vital jobs like rubbish collection, street cleaning, farming, teaching, nursing and the like so poorly paid and athletes and brokerage firms make millions of dollars a year for theirs?

New immigrants replace children not being born because the well-off citizens of developed nations find child rearing a costly and time consuming effort that detracts from their quality of life skiing, SUV, concert-going, electronic gadget purchasing, travel etc. However, the bottom line remains than immigrants are performing useful functions in filling unwanted jobs, increasing the birth rate and adding to economic growth and tax revenue as they purchase everything they need, having arrived destitute.

Mr. Kellum barely touched on this, but if more wages were paid for certain jobs, such as rubbish collection and lawn maintenance, citizens would indeed want those jobs. However, no one wants to raise taxes to pay rubbish collectors or nurses, do they? Can’t have your cake and eat it too, goes the saying.

What a wonderful example of selectivity in evidence and conclusions. Yes, the 1965 immigration act changed immigration, and yes, immigration has affected the social and economic makeup of the United States. But the errors and oversights in this article are too numerous to list quickly. To take two examples: the article assumes that keeping the ethnic/racial mix of the united states what it was in 1965 (or earlier: the 1924 immigration law fixed national origin quotas based on the population in the 1880s, which is why it is frequently refered to as the Asian Exclusion Act) would be a good thing. But that is just an assumption, one that is not at all borne out by a reasonable examination of the constantly changing nature of US social history.
Second, the welfare argument is completely specious. Taking one small subset of a national group as the model, ignoring literally millions of productive immigrants and millions of native-born welfare recipients, is the most absurd form of argumentation imaginable short of outright fabrication.

Well, I completely missed the connection to the 1880’s immigration bill! Thanks for bringing it up. It shows how far back and imbedded racism is amongst lawmakers and other national ‘leaders’.

The underlying assumption of the article that excluding certain people or maintaining the ethnic balance of the nation as it is in any certain period is racist. It is exactly the dilemma being faced in Europe now, where national populations have been homogeneous for centuries.

The influx of immigrants to Europe due to low birth rates and increasing prosperity has created a changing ethnic-cultural mix that is alarming to many there who have never lived amongst any other people. Nonetheless, it is uplifting to visit France, Germany and Britain, nations with integration problems like all others, and see the high degree of integration and the ease of mixed race friendships in people who are almost naturally accepting their newer citizens. Yet, despite this trend, they are also creating ghettoes of immigrants that will someday backfire socially.

In contrast, the exclusivist exclusionary position in the US is about as hypocritical and racist as it gets. Mixed race groups are infrequently seen in the USA. Nearly every US citizen has an immigrant background. On what grounds can people exclude others without trampling on their own heritage? No generation has ever lived amongst ‘natives’, having succeeding waves of immigrants come from all sorts of places. Poles, Germans, Swedes, Armenians, Italians, Russians, Cubans, Haitians, Mexicans, you can list 150 races or ethnic groups.

The assumption that keeping a certain racial mix in an immigrant nation is a good thing is unfounded, and the author proves it by providing zero reasons for so doing.

I have already spoken of the fallacious welfare argument in an earlier commentary. I shall leave it at that, except to say I agree with Mr. Dresner’s comment on that issue.

Fred Montana - 12/26/2002

What is Mr. Johnson's point? Seems to me that this is the result of the people we elect and not the people themselves: or is it Trent Lott in reverse?

Tom Kellum - 12/25/2002

America's "current mass immigration mess" may, as the author suggests, be the result of a change in laws in 1965. Whatever the cause of the mess, one thing cannot be easily disputed: Mass media relentlessly sells the notion that mass immigration is a good thing. Today's (12-25) NYT has an editorial extolling the benefits it claims many communities throughout America are experiencing as a result of large numbers of new immigrants. Today's editorial focuses on the alleged benefits to smaller communities.

Whether in smaller communities or teeming cities, certain commercial (and other) special interest groups do gain a windfall from the influx of large numbers of new customers to their marketplace.

Jonathan Dresner - 12/24/2002

What a wonderful example of selectivity in evidence and conclusions. Yes, the 1965 immigration act changed immigration, and yes, immigration has affected the social and economic makeup of the United States. But the errors and oversights in this article are too numerous to list quickly. To take two examples: the article assumes that keeping the ethnic/racial mix of the united states what it was in 1965 (or earlier: the 1924 immigration law fixed national origin quotas based on the population in the 1880s, which is why it is frequently refered to as the Asian Exclusion Act) would be a good thing. But that is just an assumption, one that is not at all borne out by a reasonable examination of the constantly changing nature of US social history.
Second, the welfare argument is completely specious. Taking one small subset of a national group as the model, ignoring literally millions of productive immigrants and millions of native-born welfare recipients, is the most absurd form of argumentation imaginable short of outright fabrication.

Tom Kellum - 12/24/2002

You can blame "liberals" til the cows come home, but the fact remains that those who are in a position to do something about the many problems caused by our over-population from immigration, aren't going to.

Conservative politicians have grown too dependent on the support of the many special interest groups who directly benefit from ever-larger numbers of immigrants - legal and otherwise.

Just as they are addicted to the support from the large number of special interest groups who directly benefit (monetarily and otherwise) from our nation's irrational drug prohibition laws.

Making large numbers of cheap laborers available is a form of corporate welfare. If these "welfare Kings" were cut off from their present (Government-provided) source of unlimited numbers of immigrants willing to work for peanuts, you would see wages
for lawn maintenance workers rise, and plenty of applicants for those jobs.

You think Coca-Cola, GM, Wal-Mart, Proctor & Gamble, apartment owners, EXXON, and all the rest who like having a million+ new customers each year, courtesy of the Government. are about to make any meaningful changes in immigration laws?

No, it won't be conservatives who will call for changes. If anyone speaks up about reducing immigration, it will be enlightened liberals.

Gus Moner - 12/23/2002

The premises are all flawed here. One has to believe as gospel that there’s a current mass immigration mess. Excuse me while I get worked up. There’s a flaw in the argument, in that we are asked to faithfully believe on the author’s word that we became a low immigration nation of middle class people in an allegedly low immigration period between 1924-1965.

The 'spasm of sentimentality', as this charlatan describes it, that brought the open borders, (another lie, there are no open borders) led the way to the longest, most wealth-creating peacetime economic growth period we can recall. No doubt he has benefited immensely from it.

If the immigrants are legal and assimilate into the economy promoting economic development, bring in double the number, please. 1 000 000 people in a nation of 270 million is .00387 of the population, is that a flood? I am alarmed. Get real. Use a calculator.

Why shouldn’t my or your sister from wherever be able to come and live with you or me? Family reunification is a no-brainer. The political refugee provisions require more thinking, I agree. Under that, it’s curious you omitted the Cuban Refugee provision allowing any Cuban setting foot on US soil instant access. Haitians, nor anyone else, obtain that treatment. Under that loophole over 1,000,000 Cubans have 'flooded'the USA.

Perhaps the level of immigrant education is lower because the labour they are required for demands low education and high desperation- for menial wages of course. Please do explain further your claim that “It de facto discriminates in favor of Mexicans and certain other groups”, and do mention more on the ‘certain other groups’. Particularly where this has hindered our development.

Why is it a ‘worst nightmare’ that the bill “would radically change the ethnic composition of the United States”? Even if true, which I do not buy, what exactly is the point? The point is always between the lines in this blatantly false article. Almost any prediction made in 1965 would seem comical today. Tragicomic is your article.

What have you got against India? What is the problem with Asians being 10% of the population? Your insinuations are repulsive. Explain clearly what you mean, it is cowardly to throw a stone and hide.

Immigrations patterns have ever historically changed world-wide. They are now changing too. What’s the problem? The Judeo-Christian stranglehold on power and policies will be diminished and the ones in power now may lose control? That seems the subliminal message here.

So, what is the problem if whites are no longer a majority in California. Are non-whites a threat to you? Another mute point, alarmist rhetoric with no meat.

“As immigrants pour in, native Americans feel themselves pushed out”. This has been happening here since 1642 ask any native tribe. What exactly is new? Ah, yes, they are non-whites. Sorry.
This is disdainful on the heels of Thanksgiving, when we thnaked the natives for their assistance, before conquering and putting them in concentrated reserves.

Where is the evidence to back your statement that the reason “Yet half-a-million native Californians fled the state in the last decade, while its total population increased by three million, mostly immigrants” is due to their being non-white? Just how many where non-white? I doubt you even know.

In desperation, are you claiming the Amish are a racial minority and not a religious cult? Your bubble gum is really going to pop in your nose mate.

The political refugees mentioned happen to have been created by the results of US policies in the past. Hmongs, Cubans, Vietnamese, Russia, etc. The Hmong, you may recall were a primitive tribe with no written language living in tropical jungles. We brought them to the USA to reward their loyalty in the Indo China conflict. It is hardly surprising half are on welfare, and rather remarkable that half are now not when the figure was once 100%.

And if immigrants are living in poverty, the wealthiest nation and people on earth, who in many cases are complicit in their plight can afford to help them get ahead. By and large, immigrants contribute far more in wealth and taxes than they obtain in benefits.

And Ted Kennedy was right on this, immigrants have not caused job loss. They have been part of an employment boon almost uninterrupted (except by Bush I) since Reagan’s second term, coinciding with the children of the first wave entering the work force.

Immigrant participations contributes to lower wages, however it is essential to keep wages low in capitalist economies so profits can flow back to the capitalists. Moreover, to perform the menial tasks the ‘natives’ no longer deem suitable for their status, these workers are essential. The Wall Street Journal has often come out in favour of wages being kept low.

Well, more holes than Swiss cheese here, and a lot more unsavoury. Notwithstanding all the rebutted points, the article’s main flaw remains its racist and biased slant as depicted by the preposterous notion that Judeo Christians are ‘natives’ and ‘indigenous’ people in the USA.

The author would have us aberrantly believe that we were always here, none of our ancestors arrived from anywhere else and that whites are the indigenous and native people of the USA. Like the Israelites who flooded into Palestine and now want all of it for themselves, excluding the real natives there, the Palestinian Arabs, we’ve always been here, no Mr. Johnson? Talk about prejudice and tribalism, but then what can we expect from the dross and dregs of society congregated there in HoroWorship?

Largest U.S. Immigrant Groups over Time, 1960-Present

While the U.S. immigrant population is diverse, just a few countries of origin make up a large share of the total. This pie chart series shows which countries had the largest immigrant populations at various time periods between 1960 and 2019 (use the slider to select different years). For countries not in the top ten, the immigrant population is aggregated in the "other countries" category. The growth of this category over time indicates that the immigrant population comes from increasingly diverse national origins.

1) The term "immigrants" (also known as the foreign born) refers to people residing in the United States who were not U.S. citizens at birth. This population includes naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), certain legal nonimmigrants (e.g., persons on student or work visas), those admitted under refugee or asylee status, and persons illegally residing in the United States.

2) The figure for China includes Hong Kong in 2019 but not for earlier years. Click on the “Get the Data” button below to view the number of immigrants from Hong Kong and Taiwan in 2019 and earlier years.

US Has Long History of Restricting Immigrants

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump’s executive orders last week limiting immigration to the U.S. may be the first such directives in recent years, but they are hardly the first time the U.S. government has sought to restrict immigration.

The U.S. Constitution, which went into effect in 1789, gave Congress “absolute authority” over immigration law, says Linda Monk, who wrote a book about the Constitution called “The Words We Live By.” The president executes those laws through regulations.

For about the first 100 years of American history, Congress did not place any federal limits on immigration.

During those years, Irish and German immigrants came to the U.S. in large numbers. Many Chinese immigrants did, too. In the 1860s, they came to work as laborers on the continental railroad and stayed.

Members of the American public disapproved of these groups. They did not like the Catholic religion that many Irish and German immigrants practiced. And they did not like Asian immigrants, whom they viewed as convicts, prostitutes, or competition for jobs.

So, in the late 1800s, Congress moved for the first time to limit the number of immigrants. Lawmakers targeted Asians, especially Chinese. The Page Act and the Chinese Exclusion Act banned most Chinese women and workers.

Restrictions on other nationalities

By the turn of the 20 th century, the U.S. federal government had increased its role in immigration. It established Ellis Island in New York as the entry point for immigrants. And it oversaw a dramatic increase in the number of immigrants, especially from Italy and Eastern Europe. Many of the new arrivals were uneducated and had little money.

Once again, some people opposed the number and kind of immigrants entering the country. A group called the Immigration Restriction League was formed. They petitioned Congress to require immigrants to show that they could at least read.

Both Presidents Grover Cleveland and President Woodrow Wilson opposed the requirement. But in 1917, Congress approved the measure over Wilson’s objections. People who wished to settle in the U.S. now had to pass a literacy test.

In the 1920s, restrictions on immigration increased. The Immigration Act of 1924 was the most severe: it limited the overall number of immigrants and established quotas based on nationality. Among other things, the act sharply reduced immigrants from Eastern Europe and Africa. And it completely restricted immigrants from Asia, except for Japan and the Philippines.

At the same time, the historian’s page at the State Department notes that the act made more visas available to people from Britain and Western Europe.

“In all of its parts, the most basic purpose of the 1924 Immigration Act was to preserve the ideal of U.S. homogeneity,” the State Department history page concludes.

Major change

During the 1940s and 50s, the U.S. made some policy changes that increased – however slightly – the number and nationalities of immigrants.

Then, in 1965, a major change happened. Under pressure in part from the civil rights movement, Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act. President Lyndon Johnson signed it.

The act eliminated the quota system based on nationality. Instead, it prioritized immigrants who already had family members in the U.S. It also sought to offer protection to refugees from areas with violence and conflict.

Even though the act kept some limits in place, the origins of immigrants changed dramatically. Instead of being from Western Europe, most immigrants to the U.S. by the end of the 20 th century were originally from Mexico, the Philippines, Korea, the Dominican Republic, India, Cuba and Vietnam.

So, what about Trump’s order?

Kunal Parker, a professor at the University of Miami School of Law, says the 1965 law ended “overt discrimination” in U.S. immigration policy. Parker is also the author of a book called “Making Foreigners: Immigration and Citizenship Law in America.”

Parker says that people who are protesting Trump’s executive order probably “perceive what is happening as contrary to U.S. tradition since 1965.”

The order bans refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Protesters argue that Trump’s order discriminates against Muslims and defies the American tradition of welcoming immigrants.

But Parker cautions against seeing Trump’s action as illegal. He points out that the Supreme Court has historically permitted the president and Congress a good deal of authority to regulate immigration.

And, he notes, President Obama also signed an executive order related to immigration. That order aimed to protect the families of undocumented immigrants with U.S.-born children.

However, Parker says, “Something that is legal might be very problematic.”

Both Parker and legal scholar Linda Monk also note the Constitution requires both Congress and the president follow certain procedures when regulating immigration. Those procedures protect against discrimination.

“The highest law says that these actions have to be carried out fairly,” says Monk.

From Germany to Mexico: How America’s source of immigrants has changed over a century

Nearly 59 million immigrants have arrived in the United States since 1965, making the nation the top destination in the world for those moving from one country to another. Mexico, which shares a nearly 2,000-mile border with the U.S., is the source of the largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States.

But today’s volume of immigrants is in some ways a return to America’s past. A century ago, the U.S. experienced another large wave of 18.2 million immigrants, hailing largely from Europe. Many Americans can trace their roots to that wave, from 1890 to 1919, when Germany dominated as the country sending the most immigrants to many of the U.S. states, although the United Kingdom, Canada and Italy were also strongly represented.

In 1910, Germany was the top country of birth among U.S. immigrants, accounting for 19% of all immigrants (or 2.5 million) in the United States. Germans made up the biggest immigrant group in 18 states and the District of Columbia, while Mexico accounted for the most immigrants in just three states (Arizona, New Mexico and Texas). After Germany, the largest share of immigrants in the U.S. came from Russia and the countries that would become the USSR (11%, or 1.5 million).

Since 1965, when Congress passed legislation to open the nation’s borders, immigrants have largely hailed from Latin America and Asia. In states that have attracted many immigrants, the current share of immigrants is below peaks reached more than a century ago. In 2012, there were four states (California, New York, New Jersey and Florida) in which about one-in-five or more people are foreign born. California peaked in 1860 at 40%, when China was the top country of birth among immigrants there. Meanwhile, New York and New Jersey peaked in 1910 at 30% (Russia and the USSR) and 26% (Italy), respectively.

Among U.S. immigrants as of 2013, five times as many are from Mexico as from China, where the second-highest number of U.S. immigrants were born (6% of all immigrants in the U.S., or 2.4 million). Mexico is the birthplace of 28% (or 11.6 million) of all immigrants in the U.S. Immigrants born in Mexico account for more than half of all of the foreign born in five states: New Mexico (72%), Arizona (58%), Texas (58%), Idaho (53%) and Oklahoma (51%).

Despite Mexico’s large numbers, immigrants come to the U.S. from all over the world. India is the top country of birth among immigrants in New Jersey, even though only about one-in-ten of the state’s immigrants are from India. Canada is the top country of birth for immigrants in Maine (24%), Montana (21%), New Hampshire (15%), Vermont (15%) and North Dakota (13%). Filipinos account for a large share of immigrants in Hawaii (47%) and Alaska (27%).

Note: This post was originally published on May 27, 2014, and updated on Oct. 7, 2015, to include 2013 data.

Countries are defined by their modern-day boundaries, which may be different from their historical boundaries. For example, China includes Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Russia and the former USSR countries are combined in this analysis, even though the Soviet Union was only in existence between 1922 and 1991. Birthplace is self-reported by respondents.


Citizenship Edit

In the 1870s, the Naturalization Act was extended to allow "aliens, being free white persons and to aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent" to acquire citizenship. Immigration from Africa was theoretically permitted, unlike non-white immigration from Asia.

Quotas enacted between 1921 and 1924 Edit

Several laws enforcing national origins quotas on U.S. immigration were enacted between 1921 and 1924 and were in effect until they were repealed in 1965. While the laws were aimed at restricting the immigration of Jews and Catholics from Southern and Eastern Europe and immigration from Asia, they also impacted African immigrants. The legislation effectively excluded Africans from entering the country.

The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 restricted immigration from a given country to 3% of the number of people from that country living in the U.S. according to the census of 1910. The Immigration Act of 1924, also known as the Johnson-Reed Act, reduced that to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the U.S. in 1890. Under the system, the quota for immigrants from Africa (excluding Egypt) totaled 1,100 (the number was increased to 1,400 under the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act.) [4] That contrasted to immigrants from Germany, which had a limit of 51,227. [5]

Repeal of quotas Edit

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (also known as the Hart-Celler Act) repealed the national quotas and subsequently there was a substantial increase in the number of immigrants from developing countries, particularly in Africa and Asia. This act also provided a separate category for refugees. The act also provided greater opportunity for family reunification.

Diversity Immigrant Visa Edit

The Diversity Visa Program, or green card lottery, is a program created by the Immigration Act of 1990. It allows people born in countries with low rates of immigration to the United States to obtain a lawful permanent resident status. Each year, 50,000 of those visas are distributed at random. Almost 38% of those visas were attributed to African born immigrants in 2016. [6] African born persons also represent the most numerous group among the applicants since 2013. [7] The application is free of charge, and the requirements in terms of education are either a high school diploma or two years of a professional experience requiring at least two years of training.

The continent of Africa has seen many changes in migrations patterns over the course of history. [8] The graph below shows African immigration to the United States in 2016 based on class of admission with numbers from the Department of Homeland Security's Yearbook. [9]

The influx of African immigrants began in the latter part of the 20th century and is often referred to as the "fourth great migration." About three-fourths of all out-migration from Africa went to the United States after 1990. [7] This trend began after decolonization, as many Africans moved to the U.S. seeking an education and to escape poverty, and has risen steadily over time. The increase in the rate of migration is projected to continue for the coming decades. [10] Originally, these immigrants came with the sole purpose of advancing themselves before returning to their respective countries. Nevertheless, many immigrants never return. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of African immigrants interested in gaining permanent residence in the U.S. this has led to a severe brain drain on the economies of African countries due to many skilled hard-working Africans leaving Africa to seek their economic fortunes in the U.S. mainly and elsewhere.

One major factor that contributes to migration from Africa to the United States is labor opportunities. It has been relatively easier for African immigrants with advanced education to leave and enter international labor markets. In addition, many Africans move to the United States for advanced training. For example, doctors from different African nations would move to the U.S. in order to gain more economic opportunities compared to their home country. [14] However, as more Africans emigrate to the United States, their reasoning and factors tend to become more complex. [15]

Many Africans who migrate to the United States return their income to Africa in the source of remittances. In Nigeria, for example, remittances from Nigerians in the United States to Nigeria totaled to $6.1 billion in 2012, approximately 3% of Nigeria's GDP. [11] The important role of remittances in improving the lives of family members in the United States has led to both migration and migrants remaining in the United States.

Following educational and economic trends of migration, family reunification has driven recent trends of migration. Family reunification refers to the ability of U.S. citizens to sponsor family members for immigration. Sponsoring immediate family members and other family preferences led to 45% and 10% of all African immigration in 2016 respectively. [12] Legal service organizations such as the African Advocacy Network aid in family members sponsoring new immigrants to the United States. [13]

Additionally, refugees make up a large class of admission to the United States. Recent crises in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Burundi have been sources of migrants in recent years. [14] With recent restrictions on refugee entrance to the United States, refugees may face a harder time entering the United States.

African immigrants' (US) ancestries in the 2000 [15] – 2010 [16] American Community Survey (from more than 1,000 people)
Ancestry 2000 2000 (% of U.S. population) 2010 2010 (% of U.S. population)
"African" 1,183,316 [15] negligible (no data) 1,676,413 [16] negligible (no data)
Algerian 8,752 [15] negligible (no data) 14,716 [17] negligible (no data)
Angolan 1,642 [15] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Cameroonian 8,099 [15] negligible (no data) 16,894 [18] negligible (no data)
Cape Verdean 77,103 [15] negligible (no data) 95,003 [16] negligible (no data)
Congolese 5,488 (of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) [15] negligible (no data) 11,009 [18] negligible (no data)
"Eastern Africans" 2,129 [15] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Egyptian 142,832 [15] negligible (no data) 197,000 [16] negligible (no data)
Eritrean 18,917 [15] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Ethiopian 68,001 [15] negligible (no data) 202,715 [16] negligible (no data)
Gambian 3,035 [15] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Ghanaian 49,944 [15] negligible (no data) 91,322 [16] negligible (no data)
Guinea 3,016 [15] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Ivorian 3,110 [15] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Kenyan 17,336 [15] negligible (no data) 51,749 [16] negligible (no data)
Liberian 25,575 [15] negligible (no data) 51,296 [16] negligible (no data)
Libyan 2,979 [15] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Malian 1,790 [15] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Moroccan 38,923 [15] negligible (no data) 82,073 negligible (no data)
Nigerian 162,938 [15] negligible (no data) 264,550 [16] negligible (no data)
"North African/Berber" 4,544
("North Africans": 3,217 "Berbers": 1,327) [15]
negligible (no data)
Rwandan 1,480 [15] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Senegalese 6,124 [15] negligible (no data) 11,369 [16] negligible (no data)
Sierra Leonean 12,410 [15] negligible (no data) 16,929 [16] negligible (no data)
Somali 36,313 [15] negligible (no data) 120,102 [16] negligible (no data)
South African 44,991 [15] negligible (no data) 57,491 [16] negligible (no data)
Sudanese 14,458 [15] negligible (no data) 42,249 [16] negligible (no data)
Tanzanian 2,921 [15] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Togolese 1,716 [15] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Tunisian 4,735 [15] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Ugandan 4,707 [15] negligible (no data) 12,549 negligible (no data)
"Western African" 6,810 [15] negligible (no data)
Zambian 1,500 [15] negligible (no data) negligible (no data)
Zimbabwean 4,521 [15] negligible (no data) 7,323 [16] negligible (no data)
TOTAL More than 1,000,000 0.2% [ citation needed ] NA NA

Metros with largest African-born population (2010 Census)
Metropolitan area African population % of total metro population
Washington, DC, MD-VA-WV 171,000 2.9
Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN 70,100 1.3
Atlanta, GA 70,100 1.3
Boston, MA-NH 61,600 1.3
Baltimore Area, MD 33,100 1.2
New York, NY 223,000 1.1
Dallas–Fort Worth, TX 64,300 0.9
Houston, TX 56,100 0.9
Greater Los Angeles Area 68,100 0.5
San Francisco Bay Area 24,500 0.5

It is estimated that the 2017 population of African immigrants to the United States was about 2.1 million. [2] According to the Migration Policy Institute, as of 2009 two-thirds of the African immigrants were from either East or West Africa. [19] Countries with the most immigrants to the U.S. are Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa, Somalia, Eritrea, and Kenya. Seventy five percent (75%) of the African immigrants to the U.S. come from 12 of the 55 countries, namely Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, Liberia, Somalia, Morocco, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone and Sudan (including what is now the independent country of South Sudan), which is based on the 2000 census data. [20]

Additionally, according to the U.S. Census, 55% of immigrants from Africa are male, while 45% are female. Age groups with the largest cohort of African-born immigrants are 25–34, 35–44, and 45–54 with 24.5%, 27.9%, and 15.0% respectively. [21]

Africans typically congregate in urban areas, moving to suburban areas over time. They are also one of the groups who are least likely to live in racially segregated areas. [22] [23] The goals of Africans vary tremendously. While some look to create new lives in the US, some plan on using the resources and skills gained to go back and help their countries of origin. Either way, African communities contribute millions to the economies of Africa through remittances. Ogbuagu (2013) found that Diasporic Nigerians across the globe reportedly remitted $21 billion (N3.36 trillion-Naira) to the homeland in 2012 alone.

Immigrants from Africa, once they arrive in the U.S., typically settle in heavily urban areas upon arrival. Areas such as Washington DC, New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Boston, Columbus, and Minneapolis have heavy concentrations of African immigrant populations. Often there are clusters of nationalities within these cities. The longer African immigrants live in the United States, the more likely they are to live in suburban areas.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, there are officially 40,000 African immigrants, although it has been estimated that the population is actually four times this number when considering undocumented immigrants. The majority of these immigrants were born in Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa.

African immigrants like many other immigrant groups are likely to establish and find success in small businesses. Many Africans that have seen the social and economic stability that comes from ethnic enclaves such as Chinatowns have recently been establishing ethnic enclaves of their own at much higher rates to reap the benefits of such communities. [24] Such examples include Little Ethiopia in Los Angeles and Little Senegal in New York City.

State/territory Subsaharan African
population (2019 Census) [25]
Alabama 44,872
Arizona 58,584
Arkansas 42,549
California 319,119
Colorado 56,591
Connecticut 38,138
Delaware 15,648
District of Columbia 20,108
Florida 161,983
Georgia 199,299
Hawaii 4,510
Idaho 3,243
Illinois 127,008
Indiana 61,567
Iowa 31,301
Kansas 26,179
Kentucky 38,745
Louisiana 45,340
Maine 14,674
Maryland 248,180
Massachusetts 149,753
Michigan 80,461
Minnesota 178,662
Missouri 54,003
Montana 2,760
Nebraska 28,566
Nevada 45,510
New Hampshire 8,701
New Jersey 122,485
New Mexico 6,826
New York 263,282
North Carolina 133,428
North Dakota
Ohio 137,487
Oklahoma 17,477
Oregon 24,159
Pennsylvania 131,704
Rhode Island 30,235
South Carolina 47,684
South Dakota
Tennessee 95,626
Texas 446,330
Utah 18,672
Virginia 226,140
Washington 114,071
West Virginia 8,748
Wisconsin 32,632
USA 2 million

African immigrants to the US are among the most educated groups in the United States. Some 48.9 percent of all African immigrants hold a college diploma. This is more than double the rate of native-born white Americans, and nearly four times the rate of native-born African Americans. [26] According to the 2000 Census, the rate of college diploma acquisition is highest among Egyptian Americans at 59.7 percent, followed closely by Nigerian Americans at 58.6 percent. [27] [28]

In 1997, 19.4 percent of all adult African immigrants in the United States held a graduate degree, compared to 8.1 percent of adult white Americans and 3.8 percent of adult black Americans in the United States, respectively. [29] According to the 2000 Census, the percentage of Africans with a graduate degree is highest among Nigerian Americans at 28.3 percent, followed by Egyptian Americans at 23.8 percent. [27] [28]

Of the African-born population in the US age 25 and older, 87.9% reported having a high school degree or higher, [30] compared with 78.8% of Asian-born immigrants and 76.8% of European-born immigrants, respectively. [31] Africans from Kenya (90.8 percent), Nigeria (89.1 percent), Ghana (85.9 percent), Botswana (84.7 percent), and Malawi (83 percent) were the most likely to report having a high school degree or higher.

Those born in Cape Verde (44.8 percent) and Mauritania (60.8 percent) were the least likely to report having completed a high school education. [32]

U.S. immigrants that come from predominantly black nations in Africa are generally healthier than black immigrants from predominantly white nations or from Europe. A study conducted by Jen'nan Ghazal Read, a sociology professor at the UC Irvine, and Michael O. Emerson, a sociology professor at Rice University, studied the health of more than 2,900 black immigrants from top regions of emigration: the West Indies, Africa, South America and Europe. Black people born in Africa and South America have been shown to be healthier than U.S.-born black people. [33] [34] The study was published in the September issue of Social Forces and is the first to look at the health of black immigrants by their region of origin. [35]

African immigrants tend to retain their culture once in the United States. Instead of abandoning their various traditions, they find ways to reproduce and reinvent themselves. [36] Cultural bonds are cultivated through shared ethnic or national affiliations. Some organizations like the Ghanaian group Fantse-Kuo and the Sudanese Association organize by country, region, or ethnic group. Other nonprofits like the Malawi Washington Association [37] organize by national identity, and are inclusive of all Malawians. Other groups present traditional culture from a pan-African perspective. Using traditional skills and knowledge, African-born entrepreneurs develop services for immigrants and the community at large. In the Washington area, events such as the annual Ethiopian soccer tournament, institutions such as the AME Church African Liberation Ministry, and "friends" and "sister cities" organizations bring together different communities. The extent to which African immigrants engage in these activities naturally varies according to the population.

Religion of African-born Americans (2020) [38]

The religious traditions of African immigrants tend to be pluralistic they are seen not only as religious institutions, but in many cases also as civic centers. These organizations are central to persevering ethnic identity among these communities. [39] [ citation needed ] African immigrant religious communities are also central networks and provide services such as counseling, shelter, employment, financial assistance, health services, and real estate tips.

Christianity Edit

African immigrants practice a diverse array of religions, including Christianity, Islam, and various traditional African faiths. Of these adherents, the largest number are Pentecostals/Charismatic Christians. This form of Christianity is a "primarily evangelical, born-again Pentecostal sect that emphasizes holiness, fervent prayer, charismatic revival, proximate salvation, speaking in tongues, baptism of the Holy Spirit, faith healing, visions, and divine revelations." [39]

Among popular denominational churches are the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, Seventh Day Adventist Church, Celestial Church of Christ, Cherubim and Seraphim, Christ Apostolic Church, Church of Pentecost, Deeper Life Bible Church, Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries (MFM), the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, the Redeemed Christian Church of God and [39] [ citation needed ] Christ Embassy.

Additionally, Ethiopians and Eritreans have their own churches wherever there is a significant Ethiopian or Eritrean population. Their churches are mainly Ethiopian or Eritrean Orthodox and a few Catholic churches.

Continental African churches Edit

Many African communities have created their own churches in the United States modeled on continental African churches. One example is the Bethel Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, which has a Pan-African congregation. It also conducts services in English and French. Many African churches are Pan-African, but some consist only of nationals from the country of origin. This allows for worship in the native languages of the congregation.

Islam Edit

Muslim immigrants from nations in Africa adhere to diverse Islamic traditions. These include various Sunni, Shia and Sufi mainstream orders and schools (madhhab) from West Africa, the Swahili Coast, the Indian Ocean islands, the Horn of Africa and North Africa.

Television Edit

Many local cable channels are now purchasing programming channels operated by various African communities. For example, the Africa Channel is broadcast in the United States through Comcast, Time Warner Cable, COX Communications and also available in Jamaica, the Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Lucia, Barbados, Bermuda, Grenada and other islands throughout the Caribbean. [40] The channel is a showcase for outstanding travel, lifestyle and cultural series, specials and documentaries. These programs feature people of African descent and their stories. The network's premiere on September 1, 2005, marked a milestone in U.S. television history. For the first time, American audiences were able to experience the successes, celebrations and challenges of people living throughout Africa and the Diaspora, all via a general entertainment network. The network is broadcast in the U.S. through national distribution deals with the largest cable MSOs in the country, including Comcast, Time Warner, and Cox. TV news services such as the Nigerian Television Authority, South African Broadcasting Channel and Ethiopian Television Programming are also available in some areas.

Cinema Edit

Nigerian films and Ghanaian films can now be rented or purchased from Nigerian and Ghanaian stores and the like in Africa. They are very popular among Africans in the U.S. from many different countries.

Restaurants Edit

Immigrants from Africa have opened restaurants in urban areas. The DC, Atlanta and NYC Metro areas host many eateries belonging to the Liberian, Senegalese, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Tanzanian, South African and other communities.

Music Edit

The New York Times and academic scholar Nnamdi O. Madichie have credited American African artists Kelela and Akon for employing fluidity of their cultural heritage through their U.S. and African identities. Recently, academic scholars have brought attention to the influence of African American music on U.S. culture. According to ethnomusicologist Portia Maultsby, African immigrant artists have impacted the U.S. through fashion and mainstream music by utilizing their cultural heritage as a foundation for their artistry. In "Marketing Senegal through hip-hop-a discourse analysis of Akon's music and lyrics", Madichie cites Senegalese-American singer, Akon, as a first-generation African immigrant musician whose music and lyrics create a confluence of West Africa-styled vocals mixed with North America's East Coast and Southern beats. [41] In Mama Africa and Senegal, Akon builds connections between Diasporic communities and the "homeland" through his music. [41]

An examination of the role of Black American entrepreneurs in the hip-hop industry suggests that young Black people have been able to influence the White dominated music industry through transforming "Blackness into capital, staffing and business connections". [42] The New York Times article, "25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going" illustrates how African immigrants have used their heritage to influence a new sound of mainstream music in the U.S. [43] Wortham cites Kelela, an Ethiopian-American musician, as an American African immigrant who has impacted U.S. culture by defying the notion that Blackness is monolithic through music that pushes the boundaries of R&B in uninhibited experimentation. [43]

Ethnomusicologist Mellonee Burnim's area of aesthetic significance are style of delivery, sound quality, and mechanics of delivery-qualities common to African-derived music. [44] Style of delivery is one of the most important aspects of Africanisms in music. This refers to the stage presentation and physical appearance of when music is performed. [45] Physical appearance is a fundamental part of the Black cultural expression in regard to African-American music. The sways and sashays as well as the physical appearance of African immigrant musicians has a significant influence on U.S. culture exemplified through fashion trends. [45]

Along with style of delivery, sound quality is another significant tradition of Black music that derives from Africanisms. [46] The sound quality of African-American music distinguishes itself because of its African sentiments that are foreign to Western patterns. [45] Maultsby describes how in Africa and the black diaspora, black musicians have managed to cultivate an array of unique sounds that imitate nature, animals, spirits, and speech into their music. [44] Mechanics of delivery involves improvisation of time, text, and pitch to deliver Black audiences a variety in performances. [47]

Textures can be increased through solo voices or adding layers of handclaps. This technique described as "staggered entrances" derives from the improvised singing of slaves. [47] Time is another basic component that can be expanded by extending the length of notes. Finally, pitch produces juxtaposing voices of different ranges in a single voice. [44]

Notable African academics in the U.S. include full tenured professors at the nation's top universities, including, at MIT, Elfatih A.B. Eltahir from Sudan [48] at Caltech, 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Winner Ahmed Zewail from Egypt at Yale, professor Lamin Sanneh [49] from Gambia at Pennsylvania State University, professor Augustin Banyaga, from Rwanda at Harvard, professors Jacob Olupona, [50] from Nigeria, Barack Obama Sr. from Kenya, Emmanuel K. Akyeampong from Ghana, [51] Biodun Jeyifo from Nigeria, [51] and John Mugane from Kenya [51] and at Princeton, Adel Mahmoud [52] from Egypt, Wole Soboyejo [53] from Nigeria, Simon Gikandi [54] from Kenya, V. Kofi Agawu from Ghana, [55] and Kwame Anthony Appiah from Ghana.

Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron, entrepreneur Elon Musk, and Grammy Award-winning musician Dave Matthews, are all white South Africans and two-time Academy Award-nominated actor Djimon Hounsou and Grammy-winning musician Angelique Kidjo, both from Benin and recently Lupita Nyong'o and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, are most notable.

The following is a list of notable African nationals who have immigrated to and now at least partially reside in the US.

Chapter 3: The Changing Characteristics of Recent Immigrant Arrivals Since 1970

Today’s recently arrived immigrants are sharply different from their counterparts of 50 years ago, not only in their origins and current states of residence, but also in their education levels, occupations and economic well-being, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Most visibly, Asia is now the largest region of origin among recently arrived immigrants—those who have been in the U.S. for five years or less—supplanting Central and South America in 2011. 12

Newly arrived immigrants today also are markedly better educated than their counterparts of 50 years ago, and have narrowed their schooling gap with the U.S.-born population. About half work in managerial, professional, and sales and administrative support jobs, a higher share than in any decade from 1970 on. However, they also are more likely to be living in poverty than in 1970, and their family incomes are no higher.

The broad rewrite of the nation’s immigration law in 1965, which ended a longstanding national origins quota system that favored Europe, was an important facilitator of these changes. Its passage is linked to the third great wave of immigration to the United States—a wave that continues today. Since 1965, nearly 59 million immigrants have come to the U.S.

But more changes are underway. After increasing steadily for three decades, the number of new immigrant arrivals appears to have peaked around 2005 and then began to fall.

The decline is mainly the result of an abrupt slowdown over the past decade in unauthorized immigration, mainly from Mexico. Hispanic immigration to the U.S.—both legal and illegal—crested in the early 2000s, and the share of new arrivals who are Hispanic is at its lowest level in 50 years.

From Europe to the Americas to Asia: The Changing Origins of Newly Arrived Immigrants

Since passage of the 1965 immigration law, the dominant region of origin of new immigrants has shifted three times. In earlier waves of immigration, most arrivals came from Europe, and this trend continued even into 1970, when a plurality of recently arrived immigrants was from there (30%). Meanwhile, roughly equal shares of recent immigrants were from Central and South America (20%), Asia (19%) and the Caribbean (18%), regions that had long had little representation among newly arrived immigrants. 13

By 1980, patterns shifted as growth in immigration from Asia and from Mexico increased. As a result, new immigrants from Asia (36%) and Central and South America, including Mexico, (31%) outnumbered the share arriving from Europe (14%).

Immigration from Central and South America grew rapidly through the 1980s, increasing the share of newly arrived immigrants in 1990 from these countries to 41%, making the region the top sender of immigrants to the U.S. Throughout the 1990s, immigration from the region—especially from Mexico—continued to grow. As a result, by 2000, Mexico alone accounted for a third (34%) of recent immigrants, up from just 11% in 1970. And the total from Central and South America reached 48%.

More recently, there has been another change. An abrupt slowdown in new immigration from Mexico, especially of unauthorized immigrants (Passel, Cohn and Gonzalez-Barrera, 2013), reduced the Mexican share of new arrivals to only 15% by 2013. Altogether, new immigrants from Central and South America represented just 28% of the total in 2013.

At the same time, immigration from Asia increased. The number of new arrivals from Asia, fueled in part by the greater propensity of Asian immigrants to obtain green cards based on employer sponsorship, grew 30% between 2000 and 2013 (Pew Research Center, 2012). By 2011, new arrivals from Asia were the single largest origin group among new immigrants. By 2013, their share had grown to 41% of new arrivals, the highest share from that continent in U.S. history.

Europe accounted for only one-in-ten new immigrants to the U.S. in 2013, even though it had been the main source of the U.S. foreign-born population for most of the nation’s history. In 1910, for example, 89% of recently arrived immigrants came from Europe.

Immigration from Africa also has picked up markedly (Anderson, 2015) and accounted for 8% of new arrivals in 2013, quadruple its share among newly arrived immigrants in 1970.

The Number of New Arrivals

Even though Europe’s share of new arrivals has declined since the 1970s, the absolute number of new immigrants from Europe grew, then receded. In 2013, the number of new European arrivals stood at 580,000, slightly higher than the 520,000 European immigrants who were newly arrived in 1970.

The number of new immigrants from Central and South America, dominated by Mexico, grew more than tenfold in the first three decades since the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act’s enactment. In 2000, about 2.6 million immigrants from Mexico and an additional 1 million from other Central and South American nations had recently settled in the U.S. By comparison, the 1970 census recorded less than 350,000 newly arrived Central and South American immigrants, including 188,000 from Mexico. More recently, immigration from Mexico and other Central and South American countries has diminished. For example, in 2013 only 900,000 immigrants from Mexico recently arrived here, down from a peak of 2.8 million in 2005.

In 2013, there were 2.5 million recently arrived immigrants from Asia, a more than sevenfold increase since 1970. New immigration from Asia nearly quadrupled in the 1970s, and it grew by about a quarter in the 1980s and again in the 1990s.

The number of newly arrived immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa also has grown. New Caribbean immigrants now exceed those from Europe. The number of newly arrived immigrants from Africa grew 41% from 2000 to 2013, a sharper rise than for other major groups.

The Changing Demographics of the Newly Arrived


In the two decades after passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act, newly arrived immigrants increasingly settled in four large states—California, New York, Texas and Florida. In 1970, these four magnet states were home to only about one-in-three new immigrants. By 1980, more than half of newly arrived immigrants lived in these four states, and by 1990, nearly two-thirds did.

In recent years, though, new arrivals have dispersed more widely across the country. In 2013, half of new arrivals lived in states other than the big four. Meanwhile, these four states have somewhat different patterns of change. The share of newly arrived immigrants settling in Texas and Florida has grown steadily since 1970, but the share settling in the other two states declined—markedly so in California. Fully 38% of recently arrived immigrants lived in the Golden State in 1990, but that share declined to 18% in 2013.

Since 1990, many states that previously had little exposure to international migration became the new home for recent arrivals.

Racial and Ethnic Background

Accompanying the change in the national origins of recently arrived immigrants was a shift in their racial and ethnic backgrounds. The share of new immigrants who are white, 45% in 1970, was 19% in 2013. Asians represented 35% of recent arrivals in 2013, about triple their share in 1970 (12%). Hispanics were a third of recent arrivals in 2013, after peaking at 50% in 2000. Their share of the total in 2013 was about the same as in 1970, when it was 35%. 14


Following the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, a rising proportion of new arrivals were men. By 2000 a majority (53%) of new arrivals were men, up from less than half (46%) in 1970. However, in the 2000s, the gender pattern reversed, with women accounting for a majority (51%) of recent arrivals in 2013.

The changing gender pattern for recent immigrants is explained in part by the rise and fall of unauthorized immigration. Unauthorized immigrants are more likely to be men (Fry, 2006). As the number of unauthorized immigrants grew in the decades after passage of the 1965 law, so did the male share of recently arrived immigrants. Yet as the flow of unauthorized immigrants fell sharply in the wake of the Great Recession (Passel and Cohn, 2010, Passel, Cohn, and Gonzalez-Barrera, 2013), the female share of recent arrivals increased.

The temporary U.S. trend toward a more male-dominated immigration flow was noteworthy in part because of its rarity. In many countries of the world, women have constituted a rising share of international migrants since 1960 (United Nations Population Fund, 2006).

The age of newly arrived immigrants has not significantly changed since 1970. The majority of new arrivals are 18 to 44 years old. Relatively few new arrivals are children. In 1980, 30% of recently arrived immigrants were children. While the 1965 law emphasized family reunification, the share of newly arrived immigrants who are children has steadily declined to less than 20% in 2013.

Newly Arrived Immigrants Better Educated than in 1970, but Many Live in Poverty


Regardless of the educational benchmark chosen, those coming to the U.S. are much better educated than their counterparts of 50 years ago. Among adults ages 25 and older, a larger share in 2013 had a high school diploma, a college degree or an advanced degree, and a smaller share had less than a ninth-grade education. For example, half of newly arrived immigrants in 1970 had at least a high school education in 2013, more than three-quarters did. In 1970, a fifth had graduated from college in 2013, 41% had done so.

The improved levels of education attainment of recently arrived immigrants partly reflects rising education levels worldwide. In 2010, 45% of the world’s population had attended secondary school, up from less than 20% in 1960 (Morrison and Murtin, 2010). Among adults ages 20 to 24 in Mexico, which has been the largest source country of U.S. immigrants, the share with a secondary school education grew to a majority in 2010, compared with less than 10% in 1965 (Barro and Lee, 2013).

Compared with U.S.-born adults, recent arrivals are less likely to have finished high school, but they are more likely to have completed college or to hold an advanced degree.

The gap in high school completion between recent immigrant arrivals and the U.S. born was only four percentage points in 1970, but it widened to 18 points by 2000, reflecting a slowed increase in education levels of recent immigrants even as levels among the U.S. born steadily rose. Subsequently, the gap narrowed to 13 percentage points in 2013: 77% of recent immigrants and 90% of U.S.-born adults had completed high school.

In 1970, recently arrived immigrants (30%) were more likely than U.S.-born adults (23%) to have completed at least some college. However, U.S.-born adults surpassed newly arrived immigrants by 1990. In 2013, 57% of newly arrived immigrants had completed at least some college, compared with 61% of U.S. adults. But this is due entirely to the higher share of U.S. born adults who have some college education, but no degree.

Throughout the past 50 years newly arrived immigrants have been more likely than their U.S.-born peers to have finished at least a bachelor’s degree. In 1970, about one-in-five newly arrived immigrants had at least a bachelor’s degree compared with slightly more than one-in-ten U.S.-born adults. The immigrant advantage in college completion narrowed through the 1990s and 2000s until recently, when it began to widen again. The gap in 2013 was wider than that observed in 1970, reflecting the recent shift in the origins of newly arrived immigrants. In 2013, 41% of newly arrived immigrants had completed at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 30% of U.S.-born adults.

Newly arrived immigrants also are more likely than U.S.-born adults to hold advanced degrees: In 2013, 18% did so, compared with 11% among those born in the U.S. 15


In 1970, 42% of newly arrived immigrants were in managerial, professional, technical, sales and administrative support occupations. But as more immigrants arrived in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, the share in these occupations fell, until recently. Similarly, in 1970, 28% of new arrivals were operatives and laborers. The share of new arrivals working in this broad occupational group has also steadily contracted over the decades.

However, the long-term trends hide some variation in shorter-term patterns. A rise in the share of newly arrived immigrants holding managerial and professional jobs, which tend to require more education, has taken place since 2007. This has coincided with the shift to Asia as a source region and the downturn in unauthorized immigration. Only 19% of new arrivals held those jobs in 2007, compared with 28% in 2013. Similarly, in 2007 only 19% of recent arrivals were employed in technical, sales and administrative support occupations, compared with 23% in 2013. The share of recent arrivals holding service jobs—which include a broad array of employment from fast-food workers to law enforcement—rose in most decades except the 1990s.

Family Income

The gap between recent arrivals and the U.S.-born population in median family income widened considerably during the first few decades after passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. However, it has narrowed more recently as U.S.-born family incomes plummeted after the Great Recession.

In 2013, newly arrived immigrants had lower adjusted median family incomes than the U.S. born – $40,000 compared with $61,000. The gap in 2013 was also wider than it was in 1970. 16

Family incomes of newly arrived immigrants have not exceeded their 1970 levels in any subsequent decade. Median adjusted family incomes of U.S.-born residents were larger in 2013 than in 1970, but lower than they were when the recession began in 2007.

These income calculations incorporate changes in family size over time. Family size has fallen more sharply for the U.S. born than for recently arrived immigrants. 17 The average family size for both groups was nearly equal in 1970, but it was somewhat larger for new immigrants (3.5) than for the U.S. born (3.1) in 2013. All other things being equal, larger families are worse off than smaller ones with the same income because there are more people to feed, clothe and otherwise support.


As with median family income, the share of recent immigrants in poverty is higher than for the U.S. born, and the gap has grown since 1970 (DeNavas-Walt and Proctor, 2014). 18

In 1970, 18% of newly arrived immigrants lived below the official poverty line. Poverty among newly arrived immigrants trended upward until 1990, when it reached 30%. Poverty among recent immigrants fell after 1990 and was 24% in 2007. The Great Recession and weak recovery pushed poverty among recent immigrants to 28% in 2013.

Poverty among the U.S.-born population remained relatively steady at about 12% to 13% over most of the past 50 years. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, poverty peaked at 15% in 2013. The gap in poverty rates between recent arrivals and the U.S. born peaked in 1990 (at 18 percentage points) in 2013, it was 13 points.

The Impact of Changing Region of Origin

Earlier sections of this chapter documented the dramatic changes in the origins of recent immigrants to the U.S. since the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act and the overall changes for recent immigrants in certain characteristics. This section looks in more detail at the trends in educational attainment and family incomes of recent immigrants by region of origin.

Immigrants to the U.S. in recent years are better educated than earlier immigrants, both because of overall changes in region of origin and the fact that immigrants from every major region are better educated than their counterparts were in 1970.

Recent arrivals from Mexico in 2013 were three times as likely to have at least completed high school as those who came prior to 1970. In 1970, 14% of Mexican arrivals ages 25 and older had finished high school. By 2013, 48% of Mexican recent arrivals had completed that education level.

In 2013, 95% of European arrivals had finished high school. This is nearly twice the level of high school completion by Europeans arriving in the five years prior to 1970 (48%). High school completion among immigrants coming from the Caribbean has doubled in the past 50 years. In 2013, 72% of Caribbean arrivals had finished high school, up from 36% in 1970.

In terms of college, there has been a steady upward march in the attainment of immigrants coming from Europe. In 1970, only 15% of European recent immigrants had at least a bachelor’s degree. By 2013, more than 60% of European immigrants had finished college.

The prominent exception to this upward trend in educational attainment is among recent immigrants from Africa, who were among the most educated immigrants in 1970. In 1970, 45% of recent immigrants from Africa ages 25 and older had completed at least a bachelor’s degree (at that time only 11% of the similarly aged U.S.-born population was college-educated). In 2013, 36% of new arrivals from Africa had finished at least a bachelor’s degree.

In regard to median adjusted family income, the overall stagnation in this measure among all recent immigrants hides some variation among national origin groups over the past half century. Median adjusted family income was larger in 2013 than in 1970 for recent arrivals from Mexico, Asia and especially Europe. It stagnated or declined for those from the rest of Central and South America, the Caribbean and Africa. The sharpest change in this measure was among recent immigrants from Europe, whose median adjusted family income increased by more than a third, from $48,900 in 1970 to $66,600 in 2013. The typical family income of recent arrivals from Mexico increased from $26,700 in 1970 to $31,100 in 2013. Though the median family income of new arrivals from Asia was higher before the Great Recession ($55,400 in 2007), over the long haul since the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, the median family income of immigrants from Asia increased from $41,600 in 1970 to $46,000 in 2013.

1610–1780 population data. [1] The census numbers do not include Native Americans until 1860. [2]

Population Growth
1610 350 N/A
1620 2,302 557.71%
1630 4,646 101.82%
1640 26,634 473.27%
1650 50,368 89.11%
1660 75,058 49.02%
1670 111,935 49.13%
1680 151,507 35.35%
1690 210,372 38.85%
1700 250,888 19.26%
1710 331,711 32.21%
1720 466,185 40.54%
1730 629,445 35.02%
1740 905,563 43.87%
1750 1,170,760 29.29%
1760 1,593,625 36.12%
1770 2,148,076 34.79%
1780 2,780,369 29.44%
1790 3,929,214 41.32%
1800 5,308,483 35.10%
1810 7,239,881 36.38%
1820 9,638,453 33.13%
1830 12,866,020 33.49%
1840 17,069,453 32.67%
1850 23,191,876 35.87%
1860 31,443,321 35.58%
1870 38,558,371 22.63%
1880 50,189,209 30.16%
1890 62,979,766 25.48%
1900 76,212,168 21.01%
1910 92,228,496 21.02%
1920 106,021,537 14.96%
1930 123,202,624 16.21%
1940 132,164,569 7.27%
1950 151,325,798 14.50%
1960 179,323,175 18.50%
1970 203,211,926 13.32%
1980 226,545,805 11.48%
1990 248,709,873 9.78%
2000 281,421,906 13.15%
2010 308,745,538 9.71%
2020 331,449,281 7.35%

From 1890 to 2010, the median age at first marriage was as follows: [4]

Year Men Women
1890 26.1 22.0
1900 25.9 21.9
1910 25.1 21.6
1920 24.6 21.2
1930 24.3 21.3
1940 24.5 21.5
1950 22.8 20.3
1960 22.8 20.3
1970 23.2 20.6
1980 24.7 22.0
1990 26.1 23.9
2000 26.8 25.1
2010 28.2 26.1

Earlier colonial era Edit

Nearly all non Native American commercial activity was run in small privately owned businesses with good credit both at home and in England being essential since they were often cash poor. Most settlements were nearly independent of trade with Britain as most grew or made nearly everything they needed—the average cost of imports for most households was only about 5-15 English pounds per year. Most settlements were created by complete family groups with several generations often present. Probably close to 80% of the families owned the land they lived and farmed on. They nearly all used English Common Law as their basic code of law and, except for the French, Dutch and Germans, spoke some dialect of English. They established their own popularly elected governments and courts and were mostly self-governing, self-supporting and self-replicating.

Nearly all colonies and, later, states in the United States were settled by migration from another colony or state, as foreign immigration usually only played a minor role after first initial settlements were established.

New England Edit

The New England colonists included some educated men as well as many skilled farmers, tradesmen and craftsmen. They were mostly farmers and settled in small villages for common religious activity. Shipbuilding, commerce, and fisheries were important in coastal towns. New England's healthy climate (the cold winters killed mosquitoes and other disease-bearing insects), and abundant food supply resulted in the lowest death rate and highest birth rate of any place in the world (marriage was expected and birth control was not, and a much higher than average number of children and mothers survived). [5]

The eastern and northern frontier around the initial New England settlements was mainly settled by the Yankee descendants of the original New Englanders. Emigration to the New England colonies after 1640 and the start of the English Civil War decreased to less than 1% (about equal to the death rate) in nearly all years before 1845. The rapid growth of the New England colonies (total population ≈700,000 by 1790) was almost entirely due to the high birth rate (>3%) and low death rate (<1%) per year. [6]

Middle colonies Edit

The middle colonies' settlements were scattered west of New York City, New York (est. 1626 by Dutch, taken over by the English in 1664) and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (est. 1682). The Dutch-started colony of New York had an eclectic collection of residents from many different nations and prospered as a major trading and commercial center after about 1700. Pennsylvania was dominated by the Quakers for decades after they emigrated there, mainly from the North Midlands of England, from about 1680 to 1725. The main commercial center of Philadelphia was run mostly by prosperous Quakers, supplemented by many small farming and trading communities with strong German contingents located in the Delaware River valley.

Many more settlers arrived in the middle colonies starting in about 1680, when Pennsylvania was founded, and many Protestant sects were encouraged to settle there for freedom of religion and good, cheap land. These settlers were of about 60% German and 33% English extraction. By 1780 about 27% of New York's population were descendants of Dutch settlers (55,000 of 204,000). New Jersey was home to the remaining Dutch and they constituted 14% of the population of 140,000. The rest were mostly English with a mixture of other Europeans and about 6% Blacks. New Jersey and Delaware had a majority of British with 20% German-descended colonists, about a 6% black population, and a small contingent of Swedish descendants of New Sweden. Nearly all were at least third-generation natives.

South Edit

The main feature of the economy in Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina was large plantations growing staples for export, especially tobacco and rice. Outside the plantations, land was farmed by independent farmers who rented from the proprietors, or (most often) owned it outright. They emphasized subsistence farming to grow food for their large families. Many of the Irish immigrants specialized in making rye whiskey, which they sold to obtain cash. In Maryland, by 1700 there were about 25,000 people and by 1750 that had grown more than 5 times to 130,000. By 1755, about 40% of Maryland's population was black. [7]

Frontier Edit

From 1717 to 1775 the western frontier was populated primarily by Presbyterian settlers who migrated from Scotland and Ireland. Frontier settlers initially landed in Philadelphia or Baltimore before migrating to the western frontier for the cheaper land. [8]

Natural growth Edit

All the colonies grew mostly by natural growth, with foreign born populations rarely exceeding 10%. The last significant colonies to be settled mainly by immigrants were Pennsylvania in the early 18th century and Georgia and the Borderlands in the late 18th century, as internal migration (not immigration) continued to provide nearly all the settlers for each new colony or state. This pattern would continue throughout U.S. history. The extent of colonial settlements by 1800 is shown by this map from the University of Texas map collection. [9]

Series Z-19 U.S. Census [10]
Note that the U. S. Census numbers do not include American Indian natives before 1860. [2]

  1. ^Maine was part of Massachusetts from about 1652 to 1820, when it was granted statehood as part of the Missouri Compromise. [11]
  2. ^New Hampshire was part of Massachusetts until about 1685, when it was split off and established under a British appointed governor. It was one of the original 13 colonies.
  3. ^Vermont was contested between the French and British settlers until the British victory French and Indian war (1755–1763) ended French threats with the cessation of French Canada to Britain. The territory was then disputed between Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire until the settlers declared their independence from all of them and were accepted as the 14th state in 1791 and participated in the 1790 census a year late.
  4. ^Plymouth, Massachusetts despite being the first permanent New England settlement, lost its charter in 1690 and became part of the Massachusetts colony.
  5. ^ By 1784 all slavery in the New England states was either completely prohibited or transitioning to its total prohibition.
  6. ^ By 1804 all slavery in the Middle colonies (except Delaware [6.6% Black]) was either completely prohibited or was transitioning to its total prohibition.
  7. ^ All slavery was prohibited in the entire U.S. in 1865 by the 13th amendment to the constitution (ratified Dec. 6, 1865), except on some American Indian reservations, where it was abolished by treaty in 1866.

Population in 1790 Edit

According to one source [12] the following were the countries of origin for new arrivals coming to the United States before 1790. The regions marked * were part of Great Britain. The ancestry of the 3.9 million population in 1790 has been estimated from various sources by sampling last names in the 1790 census and assigning them a country of origin. The Irish in the 1790 census were mostly Scots Irish. The French were mostly Huguenots. The total U.S. Catholic population in 1790 is estimated at 40,000 or 1.6%, perhaps a low count due to prejudice. The Native American Indian population inside territorial U.S. 1790 boundaries was less than 100,000.

  1. Data From Ann Arbor, Michigan: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPS)
  2. Several West African regions were the home to most African slaves transported to America. Population from US 1790 Census in this time period consists of a large number of separate countries, the largest of which was Prussia. settlers were from several European countries.
  3. The Other category probably contains mostly settlers of English ancestry. However, the loss of several states' detailed census records in the Burning of Washington D.C. in the War of 1812 makes estimation difficult. Nearly all states that lost their 1790 (and 1800) census records have tried to reconstitute their original census from tax records etc. with various degrees of success. The summaries of the 1790 and 1800 census from all states survived.
  4. The Total is the total immigration over the approximately 130-year span of colonial existence of the U.S. colonies as found in the 1790 census. Many of the colonists, especially from the New England colonies, were already into their fifth generation of being in America. At the time of the American Revolution the foreign born population is estimated to be from 300,000 to 400,000.

During the 17th century, approximately 350-400,000 English people migrated to Colonial America. However only half stayed permanently. They were 90% of whites in 1700. From 1700 to 1775 between 400-500,000 Europeans immigrated, 90% of whom were Scots, Scots-Irish, Irish, Germans and Huguenots. Only 45,000 English immigrated in the period 1701 to 1775, [13] a figure that has been questioned as too low. Elsewhere [14] the number given is 51,000 (80,000 in total less 29,000 Welsh). The figure of 45,000 has been questioned as a "mystery". These numbers do not include the 50,000-120,000 convicts transported, 33,000 of whom were English. [13] Even the very high birth rate may not account for all of the nine-fold increase from 230,000 to 2.1 million. Another estimate with very similar results to the ICPS study (except for the French and Swedish totals) gives the number of Americans of English ancestry as 1.9 million in 1790 or 47.9% of the total of 3.930 million (3.5% Welsh, 8.5% Scotch Irish, 4.3% Scots, Irish (South) 4.7%, German 7.3%, Dutch 2.7%, French 1.7%, Swedish 0.2% and Black, 19.3%. [15] The southern Irish were overwhelmingly Protestant.

The 1790 population reflected the approximate 50,000 "Loyalists" who had emigrated to Canada during and at the end of the American Revolution, 7-10,000 of whom went to the United Kingdom and 6,000 to the Caribbean. Thirty thousand Americans emigrated to Ontario. Canada in the 1790s, often referred to as "Late Loyalists." They were mostly not political refugees but went for generous land grants and taxes 75 percent lower than in the United States.

By 1790 the ancestry question was starting to become irrelevant to many, as intermarriage from different ethnic groups was becoming common, causing people to form a common American identity. The total white population in 1790 was about 80% of British ancestry, and would go on to roughly double by natural increase every 25 years. From about 1675 onward, the native-born population of what would become the United States would never again drop below 85% of the total.

Immigration 1791 to 1849 Edit

In the early years of the United States, immigration average about 6,000 people per year, including French refugees from the slave revolt in Haiti. The French Revolution, starting in 1789, and the Napoleonic Wars from 1792 to 1814 severely limited immigration from Europe. The War of 1812 (1812–1814) with Britain again prevented any significant immigration. By 1808 Congress had banned the transport of slaves, slowing that human traffic to a trickle.

After 1820 immigration gradually increased. For the first time federal records, including ship passenger lists, were kept for immigration. Total immigration for the year 1820 was 8,385, gradually building to 23,322 by 1830, with 143,000 total immigrating during the decade. From 1831 to 1840 immigration increased greatly, to 599,000 total, as 207,000 Irish, even before the famine of 1845-49, started to emigrate in large numbers as Britain eased travel restrictions. 152,000 Germans, 76,000 British, and 46,000 French formed the next largest immigrant groups in that decade.

From 1841 to 1850 immigration exploded to 1,713,000 total immigrants and at least 781,000 Irish who fled their homeland to escape poverty or death during the famine of 1845-1849. In attempting to divert some of this traffic to help settle Canada, the British offered bargain fares of 15 shillings for transit to Canada, instead of the normal 5 pounds (100 shillings). Thousands of poor Irish took advantage of this offer and headed to Canada on what came to be called the "coffin ships" because of their high death rates. Once in Canada, many Irish walked across the border or caught an intercoastal freighter to the nearest major city in the United States - usually Boston or New York. Bad potato crops and failed revolutions struck the heart of Europe in 1848, contributing to the decade's total of 435,000 Germans, 267,000 British and 77,000 French immigrants to America. Bad times in Europe drove people out land, relatives, freedom, opportunity, and jobs in America lured them in.

Population and Foreign Born 1790 to 1849
Census Population, Immigrants per Decade
Census Population Immigrants-1 Foreign Born %
1790 3,918,000 60,000
1800 5,236,000 60,000
1810 7,036,000 60,000
1820 10,086,000 60,000
1830 12,785,000 143,000 200,000 -2 1.6%
1840 17,018,000 599,000 800,000 -2 4.7%
1850 23,054,000 1,713,000 2,244,000 9.7%

The number of immigrants from 1830 on are from immigration records. The census of 1850 was the first in which place of birth was asked. It is probably a reasonable estimate that the foreign born population in the U.S. reached its minimum in about 1815 at something like 100,000, or 1.4% of the population. By 1815 most of the immigrants that arrived before the American Revolution had died, and there had been almost no new immigration.

  1. The total number immigrating in each decade from 1790 to 1820 are estimates.
  2. The number foreign born in 1830 and 1840 decades are extrapolations.

Nearly all population growth up to 1830 was by internal increase about 98.5% of the population was native-born. By 1850, this had shifted to about 90% native-born. The first significant Catholic immigration started in the mid-1840s.

Immigration 1965 to present Edit

In 1965, U.S. immigration law changes reduced the emphasis on national origin. Prior policy favored European immigrants. The 1965 law directed that those with relatives in the U.S. or employer sponsorship now had priority. By the 1970s, most immigrants to the U.S. came from Latin America or Asia, rather than Europe. Since 2000, over three quarters of all immigrants to the U.S. have come from Asia and Latin America. [16]

The American West Edit

In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, concluding the Mexican War, extended U.S. citizenship to approximately 60,000 Mexican residents of the New Mexico Territory and 10,000 living in California. However, much like Texas, the Mexican government had encouraged immigration and settlement of these regions from groups in the United States and Europe. Approximately half of this population is estimated to have been of American origin. In 1849, the California Gold Rush spurred significant immigration from Mexico, South America, China, Australia, Europe and caused a mass internal migration within the U.S., resulting in California gaining statehood in 1850, with a population of about 90,000.

Rural flight Edit

Rural flight is the departure of excess populations (usually young men and women) from farm areas. In some cases whole families left, as in the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. Much of rural America has seen steady population decline since 1920.

Black migration out of the South Edit

The Great Migration was the movement of millions of African Americans out of the rural Southern United States from 1914 to 1960. Most moved to large industrial cities, as well as to many smaller industrial cities. African-Americans moved as individuals or small groups. There was no government assistance. They migrated because of a variety of push and pull factors: [17] [18] [19]

Push factors Edit

  1. Many African-Americans wanted to avoid the lynching and racial segregation of the Jim Crow South and sought refuge in the supposed "Promised Land" of the North where there was thought to be less segregation.
  2. The boll weevil infestation of the cotton fields of the South in the late 1910s, reduced the demand for sharecroppers.
  3. The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and its aftermath displaced hundreds of thousands of African-American farm workers

Pull factors Edit

  1. Income levels were much higher in the North, with far higher wages in the service sector.
  2. The enormous growth of war industries in WW1 and WW2 created new job openings for blacks. effectively put a halt to the flow of European immigrants to the industrial centers, causing shortages of workers in the factories.
  3. In the 1930s Works Progress Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps and other relief programs in the North were more receptive to blacks. The WPA paid more in the North.
  4. After 1940, as the U.S. rearmed for World War II (see Homefront-United States-World War II), industrial production increased rapidly.
  5. The FEPC equal opportunity laws were more enforced in the North and West. [20]

Since 1990 Edit

The proportion of Americans who move across state lines fell by 50% from 1990 to 2018. Regional disparities in local economies have also grown during this time, meaning that more people remain in economically depressed areas. [21] By 2011, migration levels were at the lowest level since World War II, and were in the longest period of continuous decline in the twentieth century. [22]

Post-war baby boom Edit

In the years after WWII, the United States, as well as a number of other industrialized countries, experienced an unexpected sudden birth rate jump. During WWII birthrates had been low, as millions of men had been away fighting in WWII and this had deterred women from starting families: women also had to take the place of men in the workplace, while simultaneously fulfilling their household duties. The millions of men coming back to the US after WWII, and the couples eager to start families, led to a sharp rise in the US birth rate, and a surge in new housing construction in the suburbs and outlying areas of the cities. Since the men who came back got jobs in the workplace again, married women stayed home to take care of the house and children and let their husbands be the breadwinner of the household. [25]

During the baby boom years, between 1946 and 1964, the birth rate doubled for third children and tripled for fourth children. [26]

The number of children aged 0–4 increased to 16,410,000 in 1950 from 11,000,000 in 1940, it continued into the 1960s where it peaked at 20,000,000 children under the age of 5. [ citation needed ]

The number of children under 19 rose to 69 million in 1960 from 51 million in 1950, a 35.3% increase, while the proportion of the population rose to 38.8% up from 33.8% in 1950. [ citation needed ]

The total fertility rate of the United States jumped from 2.49 in 1945 to 2.94 in 1946, a rise of 0.45 children therefore beginning the baby boom. It continued to rise throughout the 1940s to reach 3.10 in 1950 with a peak of 3.77 in 1957. Declining slowly thereafter to 3.65 in 1960 and finally a steep from decline after 1964, therefore ending the baby boom.

Marriages Edit

According to statistics, the United States currently has the highest marriage rate in the developed world, as of 2008, with a marriage rate of 7.1 per 1,000 people or 2,162,000 marriages. The average age for first marriage for men is 27.4 and 25.6 years for women. [27] The United States also has one of the highest proportions of people who do marry by age 40 approximately 85% Americans are married at 40, compared to only 60% in Sweden.

During the 1930s, the number of marriages and the marriage rate dropped steeply due to the Great Depression, but rebounded almost immediately after the Depression ended. Marriage rates increased and remained at high levels in the late 1930 to the mid-1940s. The number of marriages shot up to reach over 2 million in 1946, with a marriage rate of 16.4 per 1,000 people as WWII had ended. The average age at first marriage for both men and women began to fall after WWII, dropping 22.8 for men and 20.3 for women in 1950 and dropping even more to 22.5 and 20.1 years in 1956. In 1959, the United States Census Bureau estimated that 47% of all brides marrying for their first time were teenagers aged 19 and under. In 1955, 51.2% of women were married by their 20th birthday and 88% by their 25th birthday 40.3% of men and 28.5% of women aged 20–24 in 1955 had never married, down from 77.8% for men and 57.4% for women in 1940. [28]

As of 2002, 4.3% of men and 18.1% of women aged 20 are married, increasing to 37% of men and 52% of women by age 25, and then 61% of men and 76% of women by age 30.

Population growth projections Edit

The U.S. population in 1900 was 76 million. In 1950, it rose to 152 million by 2000 it had reached 282 million. By 2050, it is expected to reach 422-458 million, depending on immigration. [29]

Richard Easterlin, an economist who has researched economic growth in the United States, explains the growth pattern of the American population in the 20th century through fertility rate fluctuations and the decreasing mortality rate. Easterlin has attempted to explain the cause of the Baby Boom and Baby Bust through the "relative income" theory. The "relative income" theory suggests that couples choose to have children based on a couple's ratio of potential earning power and the desire to obtain material objects. This ratio depends on the economic stability of the country in which they live and how people are raised to value material objects. The "relative income" theory explains the Baby Boom by suggesting that the late 1940s and 1950s brought low desires to have material objects, as a result of the Great Depression and WWII, as well as huge job opportunities, because of it being a post-war period. These two factors gave rise to a high relative income, which encouraged high fertility. Following this period, the next generation had a greater desire for material objects however, an economic slowdown in the United States made jobs harder to acquire. This resulted in lower fertility rates, causing the Baby Bust.

Between 1880 and 1900, the urban population of the United States rose from 28% to 40%, and reached 50% by 1920, in part due to 9,000,000 European immigrants. After 1890 the US rural population began to plummet, as farmers were displaced by mechanization and forced to migrate to urban factory jobs. After World War II, the US experienced a shift away from the cities and into suburbs mostly due to the cost of land, the availability of low-cost government home loans, fair housing policies, and the construction of highways. [30] Many of the original manufacturing cities lost as much as half their populations between 1950 and 1980. There was a shift in the population from the dense city centers filled with apartments, row homes, and tenements to less dense suburban neighborhoods outside the cities which were filled with single-family homes.