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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. Almost 60 million people— more than one fifth of the total population of the United States—are immigrants or the children of immigrants.
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 Positive and negative impact of russian revolution, religions, and cultures are reluctant to assimilate to 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 for their own ends. The current debates and hostility surrounding immigrants echo throughout American history. Not only have almost all immigrants or their descendants 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.
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: Each of these eras added more than 25 million immigrants, and the current wave is far from finished.
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 U.
In the early 21st century, there have been a few years with more than one million legal immigrants, but with a total U. 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 Gibson The one segment of the American population with the longest record of historical settlement is African Americans.
Almost all African Americans are the descendants of 17th- or 18th-century arrivals Edmonston and Passell Early in the 20th 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 Baltzell There are no official figures on the numbers of American Indians prior to the late 19th century, but they were the dominant population of the 18th century in most of the territories that eventually became the United States.
Estimates of the non-English-origin population in range from 20 to 40 percent Akenson ; McDonald and McDonald ; Purvis Throughout the 19th century, Irish and German Americans, especially Catholics, were not considered to be fully American in terms of culture or status by old stock Americans.
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