Over the years, people from various countries have immigrated to the United States. A website called Insightful Interaction has put together a visual guide that shows, at a glance, the number of immigrants that came to America from a certain country or specific area of the world during a particular decade. It includes the number of people obtaining lawful permanent resident status between 1829 and 2013.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website says that Americans encouraged relatively free and open immigration during the 18th and 19th centuries, and rarely questioned that policy until the late 1800’s. Some states passed immigration laws after the Civil War.
In 1875, the Supreme Court declared that regulation of immigration was a federal responsibility. This enabled the United States create a consistent immigration policy.
At a glance, the Insightful Interaction graph shows that that between 1839 and 1869, the largest number of immigrants came from Ireland. This roughly corresponds to the Great Potato Famine which began in 1845 and continued through 1852.
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first law that restricted immigration into the United States. It was passed because Americans, especially on the West Coast, blamed the Chinese immigrants for the declining wages and economic ills that the Americans were experiencing.
The Insightful Interaction graph shows that only a small number of immigrants came from China between 1879 and 1889. The number works out to about 1.30% of the total number of immigrants that came to America in that decade.
Between 1900 and 1920, the United States admitted over 14.5 million immigrants. The Insightful Interactions graph shows that the largest number of immigrants that arrived in the United States during those decades came from Italy and Austria-Hungary.
World War II began in 1939 and continued through 1945. Those decades appear on the Insightful Interaction graph as the skinniest area.
One reason may have been because the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was shorthanded as many of their experienced workers enlisted in the Armed Services. Not long after that, the INS doubled its workforce and instituted programs that appear to have been designed as security precautions. For example, the INS started fingerprinting every alien in the United States who went through the Alien Registration Program.
If you have a moment, it might be fun to check out the Insightful Interactions graph and see what you can learn from it. If you know the year your ancestors immigrated to the United States, you can start there. Did they arrive during a time when many others from their country were immigrating? It might be interesting to figure out why so many people from the same place immigrated at the same time.
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