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Friday, September 7, 2007
LABOR IN AMERICA:
We often hear the question, “Who built America?” Many people, races, cultures are the Laborers that built America. Besides the traditional Immigrants and Native Americans, others laborers include:
From the 1600´s through 1865, people of African descent were legally and inhumanely enslaved within the boundaries of the present U. S.
The wealth of the U.S. in the first half of the 19th century was greatly enhanced by this exploitation of African American slaves. The slave labor system was abolished after the Civil War. After the war, southern cotton plantations became much less profitable. Approximately 12 million Africans were shipped to the Americas from the 17th to the 19th centuries.Of these, 5.4%, 645,000, were brought to what is now the United States. The slave population in the U.S. had grown to 4 million by the 1860 Census.
COOLIES: late 19th – early 20th century.
Workers from various countries in Asia were termed “Coolies.” After slavery was abolished, there was a severe shortage of labor. Although laborers were supposed to be recruited by voluntary negotiation, it is evident that trickery and deceit were common and outright kidnapping occurred as well.
In 1868, the Burlingame Treaty repealed the century old prohibition law of the Chinese government and opened a floodgate of Chinese immigration. A decade later, the American economy was in a slump and Chinese laborers were hired as scabs when white workers went on strike. During these years of unemployment and depression, anti-Chinese sentiment built around the country, fueled by demagogues such as Denis Kearney of San Francisco, who would rail in front of crowds that "To an American, death is preferable to life on a par with the Chinese."
Although Chinese labor contributed to the building of the Transcontinental Railroad in the United States and of the Canadian Pacific Railway in western Canada, Chinese settlement was discouraged after completion of the construction. California's Anti-Coolie Act of 1862 and Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 contributed to the oppression of Chinese laborers in the United States.
Latin Migrant Workers: Around the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, between 1853 and 1880, 55,000 Mexican workers immigrated to the United States to become field hands. The presence of Mexican workers in the American labor scene started with the construction of the railroad between Mexico and the U.S. As much as 60 percent of the railway working crews were Mexican. Mexican workers performed well in the industry and service fields, working in trades such as machinists, mechanics, painters and plumbers. Agencies in Mexico recruited for the railway and agriculture industries in the United States.
Ebbs and Flows of immigration occurred starting from the mid 1800s through today. Whenever the US found a reason to close the door on Mexican Immigration, an historic even occurred which resulted in their opening the door again. These ebbs and flows include: WW1, Mexican Repatriation, WW2 – Bracero Programs, Operation Wetback, Amnesties, etc.
Written by Dee Perez-Scott. (Sources shown in urls vs footnotes.)
Those interested may review this chapter and submit suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
History of US Immigration
Many historians agree the US was originally populated by wanderers from Northeast Asia about twenty thousand years ago. They wandered from Siberia to Alaska down to the domestic US following large animal herds. These wanderers are believed to be the ancestors of the Native Americans.
Over the centuries, there were large numbers of indigenous tribes throughout the Americas. In the US, they have been known by several names, including: American Indians, Indians, Amerindians, Amerinds, Indigenous, Aboriginal, Original Americans and Native Americans.
Between 900 and 1000 A.D., Vikings arrived in Greenland which is considered part of the New World. They did not plan this trip however. Weather conditions threw them off course on their journey from Norway to Iceland.
Some historians tell us Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover the Americas in 1492. Whether he was the first European discoverer or not is often disputed. He also did not reach the mainland on his first trip.
Where most historians do agree is the Age of Discovery of the New World by Europeans started in the 15th century and continued through the 17th century.
During the Age of Discovery, many settlers came from Europe and Asia to seek their fortunes or to escape persecution. There was one group that was brought involuntarily. They were the slaves. Many historians say the slaves from Africa and the Caribbean were brought over forcibly as early as the 1600s.
The first successful English colony in the United States was established in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia.
When we think of the earliest European settlers, we often think of the Pilgrims. They settled into the Plymouth colonies in Massachusetts. Their colony, established in 1620, became the second successful English settlement in the U.S., after Jamestown.
When we think of America´s traditional Christian values, many people believe the originators were the Pilgrims. Many of these Pilgrims fled the political persecution of England so they could preserve their religion and their culture.
These pilgrims were very grateful to the Native Americans who taught them how to fish, grow and harvest crops which helped them survive in America. They were so grateful; they set aside a special day each year in their honor, Thanksgiving. Peaceful relationships between the Pilgrims and the natives ended with the Indian Wars.
Historians tell us the Indian Wars began in 1622 and continued through 1890. These were the wars and conflicts between the U.S. Government and the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
The result of these wars was further colonization for the European Americans and forced relocation and assimilation for the Native Americans.
Significant U.S. Immigration Legislation and Policies include:
1790: The Naturalization Act of 1790. First rules for citizenship. This Act said, “any alien, being a free white person, may be admitted to become a citizen of the United States.”
1875: Supreme Court ruled US Immigration is the responsibility of the Federal Government.
1882: The Chinese Exclusion Act: This act suspended Chinese immigration, a ban that lasted over 60 years.
1891: The Federal Government began Immigration processes. (Inspecting, Admitting, Rejecting)
1892 - 1954: Ellis Island - 12 million immigrants, were inspected by the US Bureau of Immigration (Immigration and Naturalization Service)
1907: The US Immigration Act of 1907 – reorganizes the states bordering Mexico (AZ, NM and parts of TX) to stem the flow of Latin American immigrants.
1917: Immigration Act of 1917 – exclusions including but not limited to, “idiots,” “feeble-minded persons,” “epileptics,” “insane persons,” alcoholics, “professional beggars,” all persons “mentally or physically defective,” polygamists, anarchists, illiterates over 16 and (most controversial aspect) an “Asiatic Barred Zone,” a region that included much of eastern Asia and the Pacific Islands from which people could not immigrate. Previously, only the Chinese had been excluded from admission to the country.
1924: Immigration Act of 1924 – limited the number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the United States in 1890, according to the Census of 1890. It excluded immigration to the US of Asians. It superseded the 1921 Emergency Quota Act. The law was aimed at further restricting the Southern and Eastern Europeans who had begun to enter the country in large numbers beginning in the 1890s, as well as East Asians and Asian Indians, who were prohibited from immigrating entirely. It set no limits on immigration from Latin America.
1931 – 1934: Mexican Repatriation: forced migration mainly taking place between 1931 and 1934, when over 500,000 Mexicans and Mexican Americans, more than one third of the United States Mexican population, were deported or "voluntarily repatriated" to Mexico. Approximately 60% of the people deported were children who were born in America and others who, while of Mexican descent, were legal citizens. Many of these people returned to the United States when the country experienced labor shortages during World War II.
1952: Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1952: established a preference system which selected which ethnic groups were desirable immigrants and placed great importance on labor qualifications. The INA defined three types of immigrants: 1. relatives of US citizens who were exempt from quotas and who were to be admitted without restrictions; 2. average immigrants whose numbers were not supposed to exceed 270,000 per year; 3. refugees.
1954: Operation Wetback: project of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to remove about 1.2 million illegal immigrants from the southwestern United States, with a focus on Mexican nationals. 1,075 Border Patrol agents along with state and local police agencies to mount an aggressive crackdown, going as far as police sweeps of Mexican-American neighborhoods and random stops and ID checks of "Mexican-looking" people in a region with many Native Americans and native Hispanics. In some cases, illegal immigrants were deported along with their American-born children, who were by law U.S. citizens. The agents used a wide brush in their criteria for interrogating potential aliens. They adopted the practice of stopping "Mexican-looking" citizens on the street and asking for identification. 750 agents targeted agricultural areas with a goal of 1000 apprehensions a day. By the end of July, over 50,000 aliens were caught in the two states. Around 488,000 people fled the country for fear of being apprehended. By September, 80,000 had been taken into custody in Texas, and the INS estimates that 500,000-700,000 people had left Texas voluntarily. To discourage re-entry, buses and trains took many people deep within Mexico before being set free. Tens of thousands more were put aboard two hired ships, the Emancipation and the Mercurio. The ships ferried them from Port Isabel, Texas, to Veracruz, Mexico, more than 500 miles (900 kilometers) south.
1965: Immigration Act of 1965 - abolished the national-origin quotas that had been in place in the United States since the Immigration Act of 1924. An annual limitation of 170,000 visas was established for immigrants from Eastern Hemisphere countries with no more than 20,000 per country. By 1968, the annual limitation from the Western Hemisphere was set at 120,000 immigrants, with visas available on a first-come, first-served basis. However, the number of family reunification visas was unlimited, and quickly led to chain immigration. This contravened the intention of family reunification visas, which were designed to end the separation of U.S. citizens from their families.
1980: Refugee Act of 1980 - that reformed United States immigration law and admitted refugees on systematic basis for humanitarian reasons. A 1985 ceiling of 70,000 refugees, with 270,000 immigrants total and 20,000 from any one country, was established.
1986: Immigration Reform and Control Act: illegal to knowingly hire or recruit illegal immigrants, required employers to attest to their employees' immigration status, and granted amnesty to illegal immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and had resided there continuously. Many people call this act, “Reagan´s Amnesty”.
1990: Immigration Act- increased the number of legal immigrants allowed into the United States each year. Created a lottery program that randomly assigned a number of visas. The Act also provided for exceptions to the English testing process required for naturalization set forth by the Naturalization Act of 1906. After the Act, the United States would admit 700,000 new immigrants annually, up from 500,000 before the bill's passage. The new system continued to favor people with family members already in the United States, but added 50,000 "diversity visas" for countries from which few were emigrating as well as 40,000 permanent job-related visas and 65,000 temporary worker visas.
2001: Patriot Act: The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001
the Act dramatically and many say unconstitutionally expanded the authority of U.S. law enforcement agencies for the stated purpose of fighting terrorism in the United States and abroad. Among its provisions, the act increased the ability of law enforcement agencies to search telephone and e-mail communications and medical, financial, and other records; eased restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States
2003: Creation of USCIS - US immigration and Naturalization Service becomes part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
2005: The Real ID Act of 2005: created more restrictions on political asylum, severely curtailed habeas corpus relief for immigrants, increased immigration enforcement mechanisms, altered judicial review, and imposed federal restrictions on the issuance of state driver's licenses to immigrants and others.
As the media channels were raging, the anger of the red-faced ANTIs was bubbling to the surface.
I saw this.
I saw this on the various cable channels and I decided I wanted to know more. I wanted to understand what everyone was so angry about.
On June 5, 2006, I watched the Alma Awards. Stars like Eva Longorio and Jimmy Smits were distributing awards. They talked about the Immigration issues and vocalized a call for unity, for understanding.
I believed them.
During one of the Alma Awards commercial breaks, there was an ad for an Immigration website that touted “both sides speaking together.” This organization requested people join their website.
I decided to visit their site.
I viewed the site the same evening. I wanted to understand the issues. I wanted to help find a solution.
When I viewed the Discussion Board, I was in shock. There was a group of (what I would later term) ANTIs angrily overtaking every thread and every discussion on the board. I did not understand why they were so angry. I did not understand how they could overtake the whole website. Most of the ANTIs on the board were well-educated. They spewed their anger and attacked any member that did not agree with them. They ganged up and drove out every PRO member from the website.
The first night, I did not post. I just read.The second night, I did not post. I just read.Those first two night, I read all the posts and digested.
As a business woman, I researched and googled their references. I found most of the ANTI comments were subjective and were based primarily on opinions.
I debated with myself.
Should I join this site? I did want to learn more, but I decided if I did join this site, I would have to join the frey. I would have to stand up for my beliefs. I would have to conduct research. I could not be afraid. I would be in battles with some very angry, negative people. It would take over my free time. If I joined, I would need to be committed and join the battle. I could not be afraid.
I decided to join.
I joined the battle on June 7, 2006 as an active, participating member. I was not afraid. I decided to devote my personal time to the battle. Soon, I commented and joined many Immigration websites and blogs.
In May, 2007, I started my own Blog, “Immigration Talk with a Mexican American.”
This book will detail my journey from Immigration novice to Immigration Blog owner.