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US immigration: A little history

The history of US immigration is made up of a few very distinct periods. In the early days there were no rules and anybody could come, these days are clearly in the past. Most of the early attempts to limit immigration where aimed primarily at keeping certain races out of the country. This is no longer the case but there are some very restrictive rules about who is and isn't allowed into the country.

Immigration Mexico - USAThe history of US immigration starts with the very early days, before the US was even a country. For the first hundred and fifty or so years the US was a British colony and immigration was strongly encouraged. It was not even required that immigrants be British and people came from all over Europe. After independence the number of people coming was increased greatly with large numbers of Europeans coming over. There were also large numbers of African slaves coming to the country as well. During this period there really were no rules and anybody that showed up was welcome.

This policy of welcoming anybody that wanted to come to the US continued well into the twentieth century. However in period around the First World War this started to change and the first rules were placed on immigration. This had less to do with the number of people who were coming than it did with where they were coming from. There was a huge increase in immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe; the rules that were introduced were designed to limit the number of these immigrants. Most of the early immigration laws were racially motivated with a goal of ensuring that most immigrants came from northern Europe.

The first attempts to really limit the number of people that were immigrating to the US occurred during the depression of the thirties. This was because there were millions of Americans that were out of work and the last thing that anybody wanted was to increase this number. This policy would continue through the Second World War when a combination of security concerns and a desire to limit the number of refugees resulted in strict limits on the number of immigrants that were allowed in.

The period after the Second World War saw a pretty dramatic shift in the people that were immigrating to the US. No longer were most of them coming from Europe, they were primarily from Latin America and Asia. The rules on who was allowed in were relaxed during the fifties but over the years they have started to become more and more restrictive. The result is that it is now very difficult for most people to get into the United States. This probably won't change anytime soon as most of the restrictions have been put there out a fear of terrorism; it is unlikely that this will change.

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