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Anthony Crespo Michael Smith History 202 December 4, 2013 The Immigrant Experience

When my parents immigrated from Bolivia to the United States, they faced a number of personal challenges. My parents left their families and friends behind. They had to say good-bye to the food and culture that they grew up with since they were born. Even though they planned this decision thoroughly, my parents had little knowledge of the English language and did not know what to expect once they arrived to the US. Despite these emotional hurdles, they had to overcome even more obstacles in the US. Their immigrant experience is hardly different than the obstacles that immigrants faced during the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Much like my parents, immigrants had to work for low wages, withstand discrimination, and become Americanized. Europeans, Latin Americans, and Asians wanted to experience American prosperity during the late 1800s through early 1900s and each group underwent their own unique experience according to their backgrounds and geographic locations. As the US was evolving into a powerful world empire during the late 1800s, European countries outside of the prosperous England, Germany, and France wanted to experience the growth of US prosperity. Immigrants were now coming from countries like Italy and Russia hoping to escape turmoil and seek the new jobs that the US had to offer. Although the number of Europeans emigrating to the US was rapidly growing, US residents were starting to worry about what type of people were coming into their country. These new immigrants were described as

savages and beaten men from beaten races (GML, p. 650). A type of Nativism was beginning to emerge as US residents wanted to disassociate themselves with immigrants. As the IQ test was newly developed, Americans started believing that they were considerably smarter than their European counterparts. Discrimination became a factor, especially during the SaccoVanzetti Trial. Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were wrongly accused of theft and murder and were eventually executed. There was no clear evidence or witness affirmation that showed that either man was guilty, but since they expressed disinterest in government, churches, and private properties (GML, p. 757), the court ruled the men a threat to American society. Despite the fact that American justice and freedom was in question, an underlying animosity towards traditional European beliefs can imply that the court was discriminating against Sacco, Vanzetti, and perhaps all European immigrants. In Vanzettis last statement in court, Vanzetti claims that he has never stolen, never killed, and never spilled blood (VF, p. 147) and reiterates I have suffered because I was Italian, and indeed I am Italian VF, p. 148). This strong discrimination was possibly a precursor to even stronger limitations to European immigrants. In the early 1920s, the number of European immigrants allowed to enter the US was reduced from 357,000 to 150,000 per year. This type of restriction hurt the image of America in the eyes of Europe, but Latin American countries like Mexico who were not effected by these restrictions would take advantage of their close relationship with the US. While an influx of European immigrants were arriving from the East, immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries were entering the US through the Southwestern states. Since Mexico hugged the border of states like California, Arizona, and Texas, Mexican immigrants did not have to face any geographical challenges or financial restrictions in order to come to the US. The cost of travel and the amount of time was small compared to those of the

European immigrants that had to travel the Atlantic Ocean. Approximately 13 million immigrants from all over the world emigrated to the US between 1900 and 1914 but an astonishing one million Mexican immigrants arrived between 1910-1911. As a result of the inundation, Mexican immigrants established ethnic neighborhoods to solidify their cultural presence in the states. The barrios were small cities where Mexican immigrants and other Latin American immigrants lived in a tight-knit communities and a majority of citizens spoke Spanish, shared customs, and sold cultural goods and food. Although Latin American immigrants also suffered from discrimination, they were widely accepted in the Southwestern states due to the amount of labor and economic growth that they provided. Compared to Italian immigrant Saccos misfortune with discrimination, Manuel Gamios report on the Santella family in Voices of Freedom reveals a more optimistic situation for Mexican immigrants. The Santella family was a large family that lived a plentiful life in San Antonio and Los Angeles because of their success in Mexico. Even though they were never responsible for low-wage jobs like the rest of their immigrant countrymen, the Santella family had to adjust to the new American lifestyle and become Americanized; the children learned English and two daughters married American men (VF, p. 74). The Santella family was able to establish themselves in Los Angeles, but their Chinese neighbors were having trouble convincing the US that they were worthy of emigrating to the US. Somewhat similar to how European immigrants were treated in the East, Chinese immigrants withstood more severe circumstances in the West Coast. They were victims of mob violence and were constantly forced out of towns and mining camps (GML, p. 651). US Congress issued one of the first restrictions on a foreign race trying to enter the US with the Chinese Exclusion Act. This limitation later became permanent in 1902 (GML, p. 651). It was getting harder for Chinese immigrants already living in the US to experience the American freedom that they

had hoped for. Literacy tests were required for voting and public schools were discriminating against Chinese students. The US felt that the Chinese people would have trouble assimilating to the American lifestyle apart from their isolationist style of living. In the debate of immigration in Congress, Mr. Parrish argues that immigrants have the potential to grow out of sympathy with the Constitution and that new immigrants could possibly bring un-American ideas from the Old World (VF, p. 149-150). US hostility towards Chinese immigrants was influential to the surrounding countrys foreign policy like Canada, who would eventually issue similar restrictions on Chinese immigrants. Despite the hardships of their ancestors, immigrants from around the world continue to occupy and arrive to the US in high numbers. Similar restrictions that were set by Congress have evolved into green cards, visas, and work permits. Barrios and small ethnic communities have evolved into cities such as Little Italy, Chinatown, and Korea-town. Although discrimination in schools and work have diminished, immigrant families are still fighting for justice with the recent Immigration Reform. My parents were able to overcome the low wages, discrimination, and Americanization after 26 years of living here. They manage an up-and-coming clinic in Norwalk that serve many immigrant families. They have become part a Latino-based community where discrimination is non-existent. Although they have an accent, my parents have developed a strong English tongue and are big Laker fans, love to eat In-N-Out, and have become American in the eyes of my Bolivian relatives. I am proud to be an American citizen, but it would have not happened if it were not for the immigrants of the late 1800s and early 1900s that risked their lives and inspired my parents to take the same risk.