Immigration in the 1920’s
The way people were treated in the early 1920s would be considered outrageous today, but the discrimination has not come to a hault just yet. After carrying on for years, immigration laws are still being established today. Immigration has had a huge impact on modern day America because it created the quota laws, which have successfully helped the immigrants find their place in this society today, and discrimination has decreased dramatically, but has not concealed itself from this problem completely.
The immigrants wanting to come to our country saw our world as a new start or even a new life for them, that’s when 1920s they decided to take immigration laws to the extreme to keep the massive flow of people out, “In 1919 a bill was introduced to suspend all immigration entirely while congress worked out a permanent plan for a more tightly restrictive policy” (Wepman 242). Although this law was only temporary, just shortly after more things started changing, “Signed by President Harding on May 19, 1921 called ‘the most important turning-point in American immigration history. An act to limit the immigration of aliens into the United States. ” (Wepman 242).
The limiting of the immigrants into the United States wasn’t the worst part, “One of the most painful results of the new quota restrictions was that they made no distinctions for personal relationships and often seperated families. ”(Wepman 244). With of the family troubles that the immigrants had to deal with, “After the civil war the former slaves began to drift away from the rural south, where more than 90 percent of the black population of the United States had lived in antebellum era. ”(Archdeacon 131).Even though right before World War I started, “Immigration dropped to new lows.
During the 1930’s the annual quota was never completely filled, the total numbering less than 100,000 a year, and many emigrated out of the country. ”(Daniels 247). With all these quota laws and such, that didn’t stop the discrimination from occurring. Many things with discrimination and the process of going through Ellis Island changed a lot over the 1920s. After World War I the immigration level reached an all time high after the lull during the war. “The Immigration Act of 1924 created a permanent quota system (that of 1921 was only temporary), educing the 1921 annual quota from 358,000 to 164,000. ” (Wepman 243).
Eventually they negotiated enough and got the number of immigrants down to 154,000.The whole point of the quota acts was to maintain the “character” of the United States. Although President Johnson wanted to eliminate all immigration not everyone did, “The unions, which had approved Johnson’s idea of banning all immigration, accepted it as a good compromise, and the New York Daily news applauded it for its protection of American job market from a flood of aliens willing to work for low wages. (Wepman 242). Now, as we are in the 21st century, and the economy at one of its lowest points, the immigrants of the world today are lucky to get a job with a minimum wage pay or even a job because of their race.
After all these new laws were set, they had to have some kind of protection to keep the immigrants out, that is when they created Border Patrol. There was an over flow of laborers coming from the South which resulted in the establishment of U. S. Border Patrol on May 8, 1924.The Border Patrol consisted of over 450 officers; “Their main job was to ride the Mexican border on horseback seeking out smugglers and the hiding places of illegal aliens. ”(Tischauser 100). Not only did they create the Border Patrol, they mad a ten-dollar visa fee with an additional six-dollar head tax for each applicant trying to get through.
That new rule alone limited down the number of people to cross the border because only very few Mexicans made enough money to pay that fee. “During the first three years of operation, the Border Patrol turned back an annual average of fifteen thousand Mexicans seeking illegal entry. ”(Tischauser 100).These numbers looked great for congress but the number of illegal immigrants started to become outrageously large, “Because of such fears, Congress, in 1929, voted to double the size of the Border Patrol and demanded a crackdown on illegal entry, and increased Border security. ”(Tischauser 101). Although the 1920s was filled with glamour, there were other sides to this nation with horrible discrimination and racial issues.
The Ku Klux Klan was a racist group of people that would do anything and go to any extreme to get the racial segregation they wanted and the white supremacy.There are over 40 different Klan groups that have previously xisted, “At first, the Ku Klux Klan focused its anger and violence on African-Americans, on white Americans who stood up for them, and against the federal government which supported their rights. Subsequent incarnations of the Klan, which typically emerged in times of rapid social change, added more categories to its enemies list, including Jews, Catholics, homosexuals, and different groups of immigrants. ” (Anti-Defamation League).
Throughout the years, the Klan had reached over four million members and just as they hit their peak, until people started realizing how racially absurd this group of Klansmen really was.Not shortly after that the Klan had split at the Democratic presidential convention and the public did not heed this very well, “by the end of the 20’s, a power struggle among the top positions of the Klan caused the group to split. The Klan quickly fizzled out with the conviction of the head of the Indiana Klan. Only a handful of Klansmen was the remainder of the millions that so previously had approved of the Klan’s violent acts” (Keeney).
After all was said and done, the simplest way to put the KKK was, “they became champions of vigilante justice against bootleggers, wife-beaters, and adulters. (Keeney). Although the Klu Klux Klan “saw themselves as protecting the American family” (Kenney 1), many of the quota laws would set immigration up to fail. In our society today, we could have possibly reached an all time low in racism. In the state of Arizona, the governor has now passed a very sketchy law, “It requires police officers, “when practicable,” to detain people they reasonably suspect are in the country without authorization and to verify their status with federal officials, unless doing so would hinder an investigation or emergency medical treatment. ”(New York Times).
Having the discrimination back in the 1920s has carried on throughout the years, to the point where if a person walking down the street looks slightly Hispanic, police can demand to see documents that prove you are a citizen of this country that we live in. Immigrants’ back then thought they had it bad, the United States now bring all that racial hate back. . Immigration has had a huge impact on modern day America by setting the quota laws, the immigration acts, creating Border Patrol, and by trying to help people realize that even though you are from a different racial descent, you are still just as important as anyone else.
Even though people may look at those of different ethnicities as less capable to do your job, they are actually the ones that are doing all the dirty work that we don’t want to do, so in the long run, we should be thanking them. Although Arizona has brought about the discrimination again, mostly throughout the United States people keep their hateful comments to themselves, and you don’t really find many gang members out there anymore, but everyone walking down the street should watch their back because you never know what’s coming for you.
- Archdeacon, Thomas J. Becoming American. New York: The Free Press, 1983
- Daniels, Roger. Coming to America. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1990
- Wepman, Dennis. Immigration: From the founding of Virginia to the closing of Ellis Island. New York: Facts on File Inc. , 2002
- Strelssguth, Thomas. The Roaring Twenties. New York: Facts on File Inc. , 2001
- “Racism in the 1920s: The rise of the KKK and anti-immigration. ” Kim Kenney. 15 January 2009, 2 May 2010. http://americanhistory. suite101. com/article. cfm/racism_in_the_1920s
- “Racial and Ethnic Discrimination” 2 May 2010. http://law. jrank. org/pages/9625/Racial-Ethnic-Discrimination. html