The United States experienced major waves of immigration during the colonial era, the first part of the 19th century and from the s to Many immigrants came to America seeking greater economic opportunity, while some, such as the Pilgrims in the early s, arrived in search of religious freedom. From the 17th to 19th centuries, hundreds of thousands of African slaves came to America against their will. The first significant federal legislation restricting immigration was the Chinese Exclusion Act.
America’s love-hate relationship with immigrants
The Impact of Expansion on Chinese Immigrants and Hispanic Citizens | US History II (OS Collection)
No Chinese leaves his home not intending to return. His hope is always to come back rich, to die and be buried where his ancestors are buried. Southward expansion is one of the great themes of Chinese. In times of peace and prosperity, thousands moved to towns, as sojourners perhaps, with the intention of returning, but spending most of their lives away from their homes.
U.S. Immigration Before 1965
Asian-origin populations have historically been in the territory that would become the United States since the 16th century. A first major wave of Asian immigration occurred in the late 19th century, primarily in Hawaii and the West Coast. Asian Americans experienced exclusion, and limitations to immigration, by law from the United States between and , and were largely prohibited from naturalization until the s. Since the elimination of Asian exclusion laws and the reform of the immigration system in the Immigration and Nationality Act of , there has been a large increase in the number of immigrants to the United States from Asia. Malo on the outskirts of New Orleans, Louisiana.
As white Americans pushed west, they not only collided with Indian tribes but also with Hispanic Americans and Chinese immigrants. Hispanics in the Southwest had the opportunity to become American citizens at the end of the Mexican-American war, but their status was markedly second-class. Chinese immigrants arrived en masse during the California Gold Rush and numbered in the hundreds of thousands by the late s, with the majority living in California, working menial jobs. These distinct cultural and ethnic groups strove to maintain their rights and way of life in the face of persistent racism and entitlement. But the large number of white settlers and government-sanctioned land acquisitions left them at a profound disadvantage.