A Brief History Lesson on U.S. Immigration

Image Credit: Flickr / the|G|™


Indigenous Native Americans, arriving from Asia, have lived in the Americas for over 9,000 years as evidenced by cave paintings in South America.

Next the Spanish arrived and mixed with the locals left and right.

Not long after, the French arrived and peacefully traded goods with Native Americans for 100 years.

Then the English arrived and kicked the French out in what was called the French and Indian war — even though it was the English and Amerindians vs. the French and Amerindians.

The English wanted to build up this “new to them” nation, so they were looking for low cost labor to — work in the hot sun. So they forcefully ‘immigrated’ Africans to work in the hot sun.

Next the English had an open door policy for what they termed “white” immigrants, which really meant “not slaves or Native Americans”.

As Japanese and Chinese migrated in, all was happy happy – until the gold rush. When European-Americans found gold, they became protectionist. The first immigration law that European-Americans made was based on national origin and called the “Chinese Exclusion Act“.  That wasn’t exclusive enough, so 42 years later the U.S. enacted the Asian Exclusion Act.

During WWII, all Japanese-Americans on the West Coast were rounded up as the suspected enemy. (This happened in Canada as well.) However, German-Americans were not rounded up. Take a look at the effect these policies had on Japanese-American population vs German-American population.

Also during WWII, when the U.S. needed people to work in the hot sun, the U.S. enacted the Bracero Program which imported Mexicans to work in the hot sun, despite  having recently deported over 500,000 Mexicans, and without due process by the way.

Only recently has U.S. immigration policy changed from being based on national origin (coded racism), to based on education, or good looks.