Immigration in the United States:1930 to 1965


Overview of the Migration from 1930 to 1965

Between 1930 and 1965, nearly all the immigrants to the US were from Europe. During this time, there were very few immigrants to the US due to the Quota Act and the Natural Origins Act which restricted immigration. These laws allowed only a certain number of people from each country to come to the US. Many immigrants settled on the east coast, while many immigrants moved to Canada then back to the US to avoid some of the restrictions on immigration. Out of all the immigrants, 86% came from Europe.

Within 1930 to 1964, Ellis Island was used to check immigrants and was finally shut down in 1954. Between 40 and 45 percent of these immigrants were male and about 55 to 60 percent were female. About a quarter of all immigrants during this time became skilled craftsmen. Even though immigrants tend to pick work that most Americans won't do, immigration had almost no positive or negative effects on the wages of workers. Immigrants still faced discrimination and generally got paid less than most Americans. The Great Depression was in play as well in the the decade of the 1930's. Potential immigrants didn't see much incentive in coming to the US compared to staying in their own countries. America only let in less than four million Americans in 35 years, that's an average of just over a hundred thousand new immigrants per year. More women came to the US than men during this time. Even when the Holocaust was happening in Europe, America opened its doors to a small fraction of those fleeing from the Nazis. Japanese citizens were interned during World War II because Japan attacked the US during the war.

In 1948, Congress passed the Displaced Persons Act, trying to accept refugees from countries affected by World War II. This act only let in several hundred thousand immigrants to US, while millions of others were forced to look elsewhere for homes. Afterward, the US let in thirty eight thousand refugees from Hungary who had been part of a failed rebellion against the Russians. In 1965, Lyndon Johnson removed the Quota and Natural Origins Acts that restricted immigration to the US. This caused the numbers of immigrants to the US to rise dramatically.
--Overview by Jesse Wycko

Causes of Migration

During 1930-1965, there was migration by many groups of people. Jews migrated from Germany because of the German persecution. This was something similar to what happened with the Hungarians. A group of Hungarians were admitted by the U.S and were given refuge because of the Soviet invasion. About 38,000 Hungarians were admitted because they were Cold War refugees. Another example was the Cuban refugees who escaped Cuba because revolutionary forces took control of Havana. There was a quota system people in the U.S had to follow; therefore not many people were allowed to immigrate to the U.S. The quota system was determined by legislation in 1921 to limit the number of people in the U.S. Other immigrants, who were already here, like the Japanese, were detained. Both Japanese citizens and non-citizen were interned. Later on, during 1954, Operation Wetback took back/forced illegal immigrants back to Mexico. They also deported American born children, who by law were citizens of the United States. During 1941-1950 the number of immigrants from Germany 226,000; UK 139,000; Canada 171,000; Mexico 60,000; Italy 57,000. From 1950-1960, there was a large increase of immigrants, including more from new countries. The number of immigrants from Germany, 477,000; UK 203,000; Canada 377,000; Mexico 300,000; Italy 185,000; Holland 52,000; and 46,000 from Japan.
--Overview by Vilma Herrera

After the first great migration, a second one came shortly. The Second Great Migration happened between 1941 and lasted until 1970, it was the movement of over 5 million African Americans across the US from the South. The industrialization of the west created a pull factor for the African Americans because it provided new highly skilled jobs that were well payed. Another reason for The Second Great Migration was the push factor of the racism in the south. The Jim Crow Laws were set up to make things "separate but equal", however whites seemed to have the better facilities. Schools, buses, restaurants, and public attractions were all separated into blacks and whites. African Americans felt dehumanized from the whites and wanted to live better lives and felt that the west was the way to go.

The Dust Bowl was another cause of a large migration within the US during 1930 to 1939. The Dust Bowl was a period of devastating dust storms that caused lots of agricultural damage. These storms caused entire acres of crops to wither away, and with no food they couldn’t feed their live stock, so all their main sources of food were diminished entirely. This was the main push factor of the migration of over 2.5 million people out of the Midwest. Overall about 7.5 million people migrated throughout the US between 1930 to 1965.
--Overview by Christopher Johengen

Migration Effects

The Dust Bowl: 1930-1939
As stated above, the Dust Bowl was a major cause in American migration. In 1930, due to low rain fall and drought, southern and western farmers lost all of their land. Thus with no crops or healthy land, to farm on, all the land crumbled and turned to dust. This was the start of the Dust Bowl Movement within the United Sates. Most of the inhabitants of those areas affected by drought, had to move towards the west in search of an opportunity to survive, while only knowing how to farm. Enormous dust storms resulted from this drought; people could lose everything because you couldn’t see. As years passed, and more and more people migrated to the west to escape the dust storms, other states began to put limitations on who was able to enter their states. Those who were not preferred in those states were labeled “undesirables.” Finally in 1939, rain fell, which ended the drought. This helped the country start to cultivate wheat again, helping to end the Great Depression.

World War II: 1939-1945
During the war, many Europeans immigrated to the U.S., using Ellis Island and Angel Island as ports into a safe haven away from the on-going war. In the 7 years of war, millions of people relocated to the U.S. However it wasn’t as easy to get into the country as before. Many new restrictions were set on both Ellis and Angel Island, which discriminated against many ethnic groups from entering into the U.S. The groups persecuted many of the times were a part of the Axis Forces. Many people of certain ethnic descents were suspected of being spies and they and their families were held in internment camps enforced by Immigration and Naturalization Services. A year after the war ended, the Department of Justice eliminated all the internment camps and released the last of the people interned.

Japanese Internment Camps: 1941
After December 7th, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was bombed, president Franklin Roosevelt declared the Executive Order 9906 which allowed the military to create internment camps for people who the military chose. The military primarily chose people from a Japanese heritage or appeared to be from Japanese heritage. It did not matter if the person was a citizen. The internment camps were isolated and were very similar in a sense to concentration camps. Although the majority of those in the internment camps survived, many died due to the horrible conditions, and the interns had to live through the trauma of being uprooted and persecuted unjustly. Eventually these camps were ended and the President for the American population issued reparations and a signed apology.

The Second Great Migration: 1941-1970
As 5 million African Americans were moving towards the West, North, and Midwest, you could see the progress of the education system. Within 1941 and 1970, all the African Americans that migrated acquired skills and education that they were not able to acquire years before. With the new found skills came new found opportunities. As well as being skilled, the African Americans were used to living in urban areas, so the migration into urban areas wasn’t as difficult of a move, rather more like a subtle adjustment.

Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act of 1942
In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was created. This act limited the Chinese from entering the United States. Those limited from entering the US were the non-laborers who wished to enter the U.S. In 1943 a repeal for the racist Act was put into action. Upon this repeal, Chinese people could be converted into naturalized citizens. This was the first occurrence of Asians becoming naturalized in America since 1790 when the Naturalization Act of 1970 was passed.

Bracero Program: 1942
In August of 1942, the United States and Mexico created an agriculture labor program. During WWII, the demand for laborers in the United States increased because the U.S. was sending all of its workers to the war overseas. This prompted several hundred Mexicans skilled in agriculture to move into the Stockton, California region to produce sugar from beets. With the success of the agriculture program, a railroad program was created. For the railroads, the workers needed no skills, just the will to work. But at the end of WWII, the railroad program ceased to exist, while the agricultural program thrived till 1964. The end of the program was ultimately due to complaints of human rights violations, many illegal Mexicans were entering the U.S., and the U.S. wanted to create jobs for soldiers returning from the war.

Immigration Nationality Act of 1952, 1965
When many immigrants began to come to America, the United States were thrilled because the country wanted to be populous and diverse, however, as time passed, the country was being criticized for being discriminatory towards certain groups of people. All racist restrictions were eliminated yet there was still a restriction on how many people were able to enter into the United States, as well as which type of people were admitted. The INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) used a preference system to allow certain ethnicities or certain skilled labors to enter in the country without being subjugated to the quota or other restrictions as well. However to make sure that the new immigrants didn’t abuse their acceptance into the country, the INA was able to deport anyone within the immigration program back to their country of origin. This law prevented many people, including scholars, writers, and poets, from entering the country until its repeal in 1990.

Effects of All New Cultures in America
Having all of these new cultures entering into the U.S. made the U.S. a more diverse country. However with the new immigrants came concerns about having all the cultures coexist. These concerns were needed though, to ensure that everyone would get along and that there would be equality. Not all rights were given to these immigrants immediately. A major effect of the new cultures arriving in America was that new assumptions and prejudices were made and that lead to more racial violence and discrimination.
--Overview by Kimberly Nguyen

Works Cited