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Treatment of Immigrants

Get sources on the treatment and conditions of immigrants in American history.


 Only in a few parts of the United States, such as southern California and Miami (where non-English-speaking immigrants seem to outnumber natives), is there widespread resentment of legal immigration. It has been three-quarters of a century since restricting the flow or the rights of immigrants has formed the basis of a significant social or political movement. Even in California, the courts and legislature have restored most of the services that Proposition 187 denied to illegal immigrants. The press clearly senses the national mood; in the first three years of the twenty-first century, the term “nativism” has appeared in major newspapers at barely half the rate that it did in the 1990s (LexisNexis Academic Database). Americans, like most people, are still leery of those who are different from themselves, but they rarely seek to alter the immigration laws as a means to allay those fears. Although some of the more draconian features of the “Patriot Act” of 2001 areeerily reminiscent of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the new law does not seem to portend any widespread revival of nativism. Nonetheless, as long as scholarly studies of anti-immigrant sentiment continue to branch out in new and exciting directions, it appears that nativism will remain an important facet of American cultural, social, and immigration history for many years to come.

Learn more on Infobase: American History: Nativism and Prejudice Against Immigrants in the United States (login with your COM account for off campus access).

Reforms & Movements in American History