Issues in American Immigration

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Globally, the United States has been known as "a nation of immigrants" almost from its inception. Beginning in the 1600s with English Puritans and continuing today, America is a melting pot of culture and ethnicity. In fact, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, immigration was the major source of U.S. population growth. Looking over our 200+ years we find that to clearly be true, with approximately 1 million immigrants coming to America during the 17th and 18th century. Almost 3 million arrived during the 1860s, and another 3 million in the 1870s. In the next four decades, the number of immigrants rose to over 25 million people, most from various European nations, most arriving in New York or one of the Eastern seaports (Damon, 1981). Despite the politicization, as of 2006, the United States actually was the number one country globally to accept legal immigrants into the country, with a current immigrant population of almost 40 million (Terrazas and Batalova, 2009). In fact, the peak of immigration was 1907, when over 1.2 million Europeans entered the country beginning a push towards legislation limiting immigration in the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1924 and the 1921 Congressional Quota Act. These immigrants came for two sociological reasons: the push factor (wars, famine, persecution and overpopulation) and the pull factors (jobs and the promise of freedom). Most came by ship, and a passage often cost the equivalent of an entire life's savings causing many
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