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Kinsey Garcia

Cutler Edwards
Humanities
September 30, 2015
Indian Immigration to America
Indian immigrant and US House of Representative member, Ami Bera said

Our nation is
built upon a history of immigration, dating back to our first pioneers, the Pilgrims. For more
than three centuries, we have welcomed generations of immigrants to our melting pot of
hyphenated Americans: British-Americans; Italian-Americans; Irish-Americans;
Jewish-Americans; Mexican-Americans; Chinese-Americans; Indian-Americans.1
Indians first
immigrated to America during the mid 1800 to 1917. It is estimated that over 3,000 Indians immigrated
to America, mostly from the
Punjab Region. There are many reasons why people chose to immigrate to
a new country, the main reasons why Indians immigrated to America were for political freedom,
religious freedom, and financial stability.

One of the main push factors that prompted Indians to migrate to America was for political
freedom and religious freedom . During this time India was under British Imperialism Rule. While under
British Rule, Indians struggled a great deal. Since Britain controlled India they also controlled the politics
in India too. There was a great deal of injustice and racism when it came to politics. The British saw the
Indian people as Barbaric2 and unfit to elect the proper officials to lead the country, so they elected

Innovation and the American dream


Huffington Post Politics. Amir Bera, US House of Representatives. June 11,
2013. Web. 6 Nov. 2015.
2
India in the Age of British Imperialism

Washington State University. Fredrick Stephens. December 5, 2014. Web.


Nov 3, 2015.

the officials that they felt fit to lead which were always white British men. While all the issues with
politics were going on there was another issue developing, the issue was religion. During that time in
Indian there were four major religions known as the
Dharmic Faiths. The Dharmic Faiths are Hinduism,
Jainism, Buddhism,and Sikhism. The British prushered/attempted to convert them to Christianity and
educates them.
This seemed to be helpful to the native people through the eyes of the imperials, but it
was exploitation of both cultural and civil aspects.

The second push factor was land taxes and famine. While under British Rule there were a lot of
issues and problems, mostly consisting with the subject of land taxes. From 1850 to 1940s land taxes
became more frequent and became more expensive. Because of the increase of prices and frequency of
land taxes many people couldn't afford to own land, which affected the physical state and the financial
state of India. Indias main source of money came from trading and agriculture, but since Britain
controlled Indias trade, all the native people had left was agriculture. Since agriculture was decreasing
due to the land taxes the supply and demand wasn't being met thus causing India to fall into a famine and
a great depression. The Great Famine affected South and Southwestern India
(Madras, Mysore,
Hyderabad, Mumbai, and part of the Pungi Region)
and lasted for two year, from 1876 to 18783.
The
famine covered an area of 670,000 square kilometres overall the death toll was estimated to be
5.5million people in total.

The economic statutes of India was greatly affected too. The British had a strong hold over
Indian trade which was a substantial part of India's economy. Because of this the majority of the money

The Great Famine of 1876-78


Wikipedia. Web. November 15, 2015

that was made from trading went to Britain and a small fraction went to India which did not improve the
status of the economy. As the situation got worse in India many Indians decided to make the giant move
and immigrate to a new country.

In 1907 the first group of Indians immigrated to Vancouver, Canada most of them were of Sikh
denomination. While in Canada many Indian immigrants prospered. Due to Canadas stable economy
and financial security many Indian immigrants became entrepreneurs and business owners. But After a
couple of years Canadian authorities approved and passed two laws that effectively ended immigration
from India to Canada for a few decades. The first law required new Indian
immigrants to carry $200 in
cash upon landing in Canada, while European immigrants needed just $25. The second law required
Indian immigrants to arrive to Canada via a continuous journey from the sub-continent, something that
was almost impossible in the time period before air travel. Because of the two new laws Indians had to
once again find a new country to immigrate to.

The second country that Indians immigrated to was the US. The US had everything that Indian
immigrants seeked, it had political freedom, religious freedom, and financial stability. Also During that
period the US had very lenient immigration laws/rules, between 1900 to 1920 approximately 14.5
million immigrants entered the US.
Many entered through San Francisco, it is estimated that some 3,000
people from India came through the Angel Island Immigration Station.
Many of the Indian immigrants
moved to
into the northwestern United States, where an economic boom was currently happening.
From Washington to Oregon, and eventually California, the Indian immigrants worked in the lumber

industry, built railroads, and worked in the orchards and vineyards throughout the Sacramento, San
Joaquin, and Imperial valleys.

On February 5, 1
917, the United States Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1917 also
known as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act. The Asiatic Barred Zone Act restricted the immigration of
'undesirables' from other countries. The U.S. Legislation: 1917 Immigration Act states
Idiots,
imbeciles, epileptics, alcoholics, poor, criminals, beggars, any person suffering attacks of
insanity, those with tuberculosis, and those who have any form of dangerous contagious disease,
aliens who have a physical disability that will restrict them from earning a living in the United
States..., polygamists and anarchists, those who were against the organized government or those
who advocated the unlawful destruction of property and those who advocated the unlawful
assault of killing of any officer." 4 Also included in the list were prostitutes and anyone involved in or
with prostitution were also not allowed to enter the United States. When entering the United states there
was a payment of $8 per person for immigrants, except children under sixteen years of age that were
accompanied by a parent. Another important part of the Immigration Act was the literacy test that
immigrants entering the country had to take. Immigrants who were over the age of 16 and could read
some language must read 30 to 40 words to show they are capable of reading. Immigrants who were
entering the US to escape from religious persecution from their country did not have to pass this test.

Indians have been immigrating for a hundred years and counting. There will always be a reason
to immigrate to a new country whether it be for financial stability, religious freedom, political freedom,

U.S. Legislation: 1917 Immigration Act

U.S. Immigration Legislation. 64th Congress; February 5th, 1917. Web.


Nov 7, 2015.

famine, or just for a new start. There are roughly around 26,147,963 immigrants in America. America is
a mixing pot of immigrants ranging from as close as Cuba and Mexico and as far away as Russia and
Japan. Immigration will always be an occurring event in history. The 32nd president of the United
States, Franklin D. Roosevelt said
Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I
especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.5

Daughters of the American Revolution


53 - Remarks to the Daughters of the American Revolution. Washington,
D.C. April 21, 1938. Web. Nov 14, 2015.