Early American Immigration

We normally think of the Native Americans as the original American population, but the migration of this group of people to America closely mirrors the consistent effects of immigration. Just as the Europeans wiped out the Native American population with war, disease, and intermarriage, the introduction of Native Americans coincided with the extinction of many North American mammals. Though the causes of this outcome are still unclear, some experts believe that this is due to overhunting. Though this fact is not as well-known as the consequences of European settlement on the Native American Population, it still leaves room for thought. For instance, what would have happened if the Europeans never disrupted the Native Americans’ population and lifestyle? Would the Native Americans have led to even more detrimental affects on the North American environment just as the Europeans had done to them? Though these questions may never be answered, it is still important to find a pattern in events where large-scale immigration took place and to learn from our mistakes.

Another key point to early immigration is conquest. This factor may not be as common as it was centuries ago, but it is still interesting to look at how the outcomes of conquest affect today’s society. If we look at a newly-conquered, European-dominated North America, we can find trends of when society stays rigid or when the native culture becomes malleable. Unlike the Native Americans, the European-Americans had a larger population and were more efficiently organized. When a third large wave of humans began to migrate to America, the European-Americans were able to stand their ground and keep control of the society they had created. They had formed a system so that they had the upper hand through creating a gap between the immigrants and the “new native” population. By having a better education and a larger population, the original Northern European cultures and traditions remained even after Southern and Western Europeans began to arrive in the New World.

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Immigration Reflection

We often hear stories of Mexican immigrants in the Southwest being deported in the evening news or on the internet. It seems so far away from Baltimore and our pressing local predicaments of racism and police brutality. However, when I read that our future president threatened to deport not only illegal immigrants, but their children with American citizenships, it opened my eyes to the important matter at hand. Our country was heading down a dangerous path, and its effects could be more disastrous than I had ever dreamed of.
I couldn’t help but feel like the whole situation was extremely unfair, though some people would say that’s just life. The children, as many call “anchor babies,” had done nothing wrong. They could not help that they were the “wrong people” to immigrate to America, as Trump had labeled them. When watching the documentary film following the lives of immigrant high schoolers, the story of a Guatemalan boy especially caught my interest. His parents threatened to pull him out of school for getting poor grades and not completing his homework. The distraught teenager sadly told the cameraman “If I don’t go to school, then I’m just like every other Hispanic immigrant out there.” I know plenty of boys who don’t complete their schoolwork and get off with a light scolding. Unlike the Guatemalan immigrant in the video, they have the luxury of being able to afford college without a spectacular resume. When you realize that there’s a whole group of people who have the ultimate challenge of breaking out of the mold cast for them and achieving a bright future, it definitely puts things in perspective.
Ironically, it was this very group of people who founded our now judgmental country. After watching the documentary, I thought back to my own heritage. It was far from flattering, and my poor sharecropper ancestors had little to no records on them. It was not until my parents’ generation when my family finally was able to go to college. Though I am where I am today because of their struggles and hard work, I realized that their obstacles were much different from the immigrants’ issues today. They did not have to fear for their lives because of their religion, nor were they alienated because of their race. They also lived in a time where education was not necessarily mandatory for success. Today, immigrants have work hard to get into college to reach any successful job. Not only do they have to keep up their grades, but they also have to find the money to pay for college tuition. As America loses the fluidity of its class system over time and gains more judgements views, immigrants are having a harder and harder time breaking free of stigma and a low-income lifestyle.