Why do people immigrate to the United States? While the individual reasons differ from one person/family to another the main reasons haven’t changed over the years. They include ones like a better life, job opportunities, and more freedom. Even since immigrants were processed at Ellis Island over a century ago the main immigrant groups have changed but the reasons they want to move to the US has changed little.
In fact, about 12 million people were processed at Ellis Island from 1880-1930. That’s a bit less than half of 27 total people processed during that time. However, the US’ immigration attitudes changed due to World War I. it resulted in more nationalism and xenophobia. The loyalties of the immigrants were questioned and laws were passed up to the 190s to limit US immigration.
The Great Depression caused many immigrants to return to their home countries due to the financial problems there. In the late 1930s, many immigrants fleeing Nazi Germany were turned away from the US even though they were still under the quota system.
After the US declared war during WW2 it detained aliens from Germany and Italy and placed Japanese Americans in internment camps. The US apologized for the camps several decades later in 1988.
President Truman was concerned about the refugee problem following the end of World War II. He asked Congress to deal with the problem to find ways to help the refugees who moved to the US after the end of the war. The country passed a law that allowed hundreds of thousands of refugees to enter the US.
A major event took place in 1965 that would affect modern US immigration greatly. President Johnson signed a law that ended the quota system that favored Western European immigrants. This made it easier for people from other regions of the world to immigrate to the US.
After the 1965 act, it resulted in Asian immigration increasing 4x among Asian immigrants. This trend was greatly affected by the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, Cubans also moved to the US during this era to escape Cold War conflicts.
Today the US government gives priority to potential immigrants who are professionals like scientists, doctors, and IT specialists. This has created a so-called “brain drain” in the countries where the highly skilled workers have left. Many of the workers are the female who save up enough money so their families can join them in the US.
Today California has become a crossroad of the newest cultures in the US. IT receives the majority of immigrants from Asia, Mexico, and South America. In addition, people also enter the US through various ways like plane, ship, and car. There have been anti-immigration sentiments in the countries during different periods of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. In fact, many of the debates have appeared again during the recent US presidential election.
It’s certainly clear that people continue to immigrate to the US for many of the same reasons. The process itself has changed significantly since the early 1900s but the reasons people want to make America their home haven’t really changed.