The Impact of Immigration on American Society: In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate courses on demography, immigration and ethnicity, and Southeast Asia, Hirschman conducts research on immigration and ethnicity in United States and on social change in Southeast Asia. There is a strong base of support for continued immigration as a necessary ingredient for economic growth and as an essential element of a cosmopolitan society among many Americans.
Looking Backward to the Future Charles Hirschman Charles Hirschman surveys the history of immigration in America in an attempt to understand current attitudes and the future. The current debates and hostility to immigrants echo throughout American history. There is a strong base of support for continued immigration as a necessary ingredient for economic growth and as an essential element of a cosmopolitan society among many Americans.
Almost 60 million people — more than one-fifth of the total population of the United States — are immigrants or the children of immigrants.
On the other side, there is a substantial share, perhaps a majority, of Americans who are opposed to a continuation of large-scale immigration. Many opponents of immigration are old-stock Americans who have all but forgotten their immigrant ancestors. They often live in small towns or in suburban areas, and many have relatively little contact with immigrant families in their neighborhoods, churches, and friendship networks.
Beyond the debate over the economic consequences of immigration, there is also an emotional dimension that shapes sentiments toward immigration. Many Americans, like people everywhere, are more comfortable with the familiar than with change.
They fear that newcomers with different languages, religions, and cultures are reluctant to assimilate into American society and to learn English. Although many of the perceptions and fears of old-stock Americans about new immigrants are rooted in ignorance and prejudice, the fears of many Americans about the future are not entirely irrational.
The news media often cite examples of industries that seek out low-cost immigrant workers to replace native-born workers.
Some sectors, such as harvesting vegetables and fruits in agriculture, have very few native-born Americans seeking jobs in them, but immigrants are also disproportionately employed in many other sectors, including meatpacking, construction, hospitals, and even in many areas of advanced study in research universities.
These examples are fodder for unscrupulous political leaders who seek to exploit popular fears to their own ends. Not only have almost all immigrants or their descendents assimilated over time, but they have broadened American society in many positive ways.
In this review, I discuss the popular fears about immigrants by old-stock Americans and the historical record of immigrant contributions to the evolution of the industrial economy, political reform, and even to the development of American culture.
A short overview of immigration Immigration to North America began with Spanish settlers in the sixteenth century, and French and English settlers in the seventeenth century. In the century before the American Revolution, there was a major wave of free and indentured labor from England and other parts of Europe as well as large-scale importation of slaves from Africa and the Caribbean.
Although some level of immigration has been continuous throughout American history, there have been two epochal periods: During some of the peak years of immigration in the early s, about one million immigrants arrived annually, which was more than one percent of the total US population at the time.
In the early twenty-first century, there have been a few years with more than one million legal immigrants, but with a total US population of almost million, the relative impact is much less than it was in the early part of the twentieth century.
The first impact of immigration is demographic. The 70 million immigrants who have arrived since the founding of the republic formal records have only been kept since are responsible for the majority of the contemporary American population.
The one segment of the American population with the longest record of historical settlement are African Americans. Almost all African Americans are the descendants of seventeenth- or eighteenth-century arrivals. Early in the twentieth century, when immigration from southern and eastern Europe was at its peak, many old-stock Americans sought to preserve the traditional image of the country as primarily composed of descendants from northwest Europe, especially of English Protestant stock.
The first American census inshortly after the formation of the United States, counted a bit less than 4 million people, of whom at least 20 per cent were of African descent.
The estimates of the non-English-origin population in range from 20 to 40 per cent. In Maythere were three days of rioting in Kensington, an Irish suburb of Philadelphia, which culminated in the burning of two Catholic churches and other property.
The rising tide of nativism — the fear of foreigners — had deep roots in anti-Catholicism and a fear of foreign radicals. The Immigration Restriction League, founded by young Harvard-educated Boston Brahmins inadvocated a literacy test to slow the tide of immigration.
While some reformers, such as Jane Adams, went to work to alleviate the many problems of urban slums, others, such as Henry Adams, the descendent of two American presidents and a noted man of letters, expressed virulent nativism and anti-Semitism.
From the s to the s, a diverse set of groups, ranging from the old-line New England elites and the Progressive Movement in the Midwest to the Ku Klux Klan, led a campaign to halt undesirable immigrants from Europe. Passing the national origins quotas in the early s was intended to exclude everyone from Asia and Africa and to sharply lower the numbers of arrivals from southern and eastern Europe.
The period from towhen a highly restrictive immigration policy was in place, was exceptional in American history.
For those who were reared in this era, it might seem that the high levels of immigration experienced during the last three decades of the twentieth century are unusual.
However, high levels of immigration characterized most of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as well as the first two decades of the twentieth. The impact of the Amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act, also known as the Hart-Cellar Act, was a surprise to policy makers and many experts.
The primary intent of the Act was to repeal the national origin quotas enacted in the s, which were considered discriminatory by the children and grandchildren of southern and eastern European immigrants.
The advocates of reform in the s were not pushing for a major new wave of immigration. Their expectation was that there would be a small increase of arrivals from Italy, Greece, and a few other European countries as families that were divided by the immigration restrictions of the s were allowed to be reunited, but that no long-term increase would result.The Impact of Immigration on American Society: Looking Backward to the Future.
Charles Hirschman. Charles Hirschman surveys the history of immigration in America in an attempt to understand current attitudes and the future. “While it is not possible to predict the role of immigration in America’s future, it is instructive to study the past.
The Impact of Immigration on American Society: Looking Backward to the Future. Charles Hirschman. Charles Hirschman surveys the history of immigration in America in an attempt to understand current attitudes and the future.
“While it is not possible to predict the role of immigration in America’s future, it is instructive to study the past.
Immigrations effect on society Shalita Pettis August 17, Immigrations effect on society. Mar 11, · Immigration Many people have a tendency to fall on one side or the other on the topic of immigration.
Some people will flat out deny the allowance of immigrants into the country, while some people have the mindset of the more the merrier. Immigrations effect on society Shalita Pettis August 17, Immigrations effect on society Historically, immigration has been very important to establish in the United States of America.
Many came to America seeking a better life for themselves and their family. The Impact of Immigration on American Society: Looking Backward to the Future.
By Charles Hirschman. Published on: Jul 28, Charles Hirschman is the Boeing International Professor in the Department of Sociology and the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington.
In addition to teaching undergraduate and.