History Policy

A Brief History of Immigration

From the discovery and settlement of the United States to the destructive flood of immigration today

Many millions of people have come to our shores since 1492 when Columbus discovered this vast undeveloped, uncivilized, and virtually empty land. They, and their offspring, have filled the land with more than 311 million people, causing present-day patriots to question how many more this land can absorb and support with its diminishing natural resources, urban blight, overcrowded schools, and undereducated children.. In order to better understand the immigration problems of today, we need to understand the history of the founding of the United States. Explorers and settlers were the first to follow Columbus. Most of the Spanish and Portuguese went to Mexico, Central and South America; most of the French migrated to Canada; and the English, Scots, Irish, Welsh, Dutch, and Germans settled in what became the 13 original colonies. They wrote the Declaration of Independence, fought the Revolution, fashioned the Constitution with its Bill of Rights, and fixed the cultural, economic, and political patterns of the country. The government and society they created came from their own Northern and West European cultural and political background. It was a limited government. Sovereign power was held by the people themselves, not by a king or special elite, and not by the state. The people, through their own representatives, made the laws and shaped the destiny of the nation. It was an English speaking nation with free institutions based upon Anglo-Saxon culture and English common law.

Our Founding Fathers did not encourage unlimited immigration. George Washington felt that immigration should be limited to “useful mechanics and some particular descriptions of men or professions.”

Thomas Jefferson saw the new government as a unique combination of the freest elements of English law and political custom. He was concerned that unrestricted immigration of peoples from lands unacquainted with the principle of representative government might undo the careful work of our Founding Fathers. “Yet,” he said prophetically, “from such we are to expect the greatest number of immigrants.”

Even if these immigrants could throw off the principles of the governments they left, Jefferson feared that they would merely pass”from one extreme to the other. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty.” He added, “In proportion to their numbers, they will share legislation with us. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp or bias its direction and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent mass.”

Although opposed to mass immigration, the Founding Fathers did not prevent or discourage it by federal legislation. They left it to the states individually to regulate and control immigration according to their specific needs. Immigration grew at an acceptable and useful rate, and the population rose from 26,000 in 1640 to 2,500,000 in 1775, to 12,866,000 by 1830. Westward expanding America needed able men to work the mines, lay the rails, till the soil, and build the towns, and so during these growing years, immigration was actively encouraged. In 1834, Congress aided Polish exiles to settle in Illinois and Michigan. The Homestead Act of 1862 drew others through cheap land grants. Entrepreneurs advertised abroad for immigrant workers for the expanding mills, mines, factories, and farms.

Between 1830 and 1880, a total of 10,189,000 immigrants came to the United States. Of these, 8,989,800 were from Northern Europe, and 654,000 were from Canada and Newfoundland. But immigration brought problems. The unscrupulous advertised for immigrant workers, not to fill waiting jobs, but to depress wages of American workers.

Americans became aware of the growing political power of the newcomers, and as Jefferson had foreseen, many of them seemed to support boss rule rather than free representative processes.

Today, the annual tidal wave of over a million immigrants (legal and illegal) is endangering our American way of life. Currently, fewer than 15% of our immigrants come from Europe and share the heritage that made America strong. A majority of today’s immigrants are (consciously or unconsciously) undermining our customs, our culture, our language, and our institutions. Instead of remaining in their native lands and emulating the United States, they are descending upon our shores and trying to reshape the United States into the image of the lands they forsook.

From the handful of first settlers, our nation has now grown to over 311,000,000 and changed from agriculture and underpopulated acreage to high technology and over-crowded cities.

America was and for the moment still is an English-speaking nation with free institutions, free speech, and the freedom to worship. Our ancestors wisely decided that this new nation under God with liberty and justice for all, would have no king and no privileged class! Because of what our forefathers created, and in spite of human frailty, the United States of America has become the greatest nation on earth with the finest tradition of charity the world has ever known. Because America’s culture, customs, language, and laws are under assault from foreigners who come to live here and, instead of learning the American way of life, choose to impose their own alien cultures, languages, and institutions upon us, we must review our heritage and understand the need to preserve it, lest America self-destruct through ethnic strife.

In the belief that unrestricted immigration from Asia would turn our country’s sparsely populated Western states over to domination by Asian people, language, customs, and political thought, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882. (Today, the violent criminal activities of the Chinese Tong gangs, the widespread criminal activities of Chinese alien and drug smugglers, and the espionage at the Los Alamos Research Labs proves the wisdom of our ancestors.)

In the earlier part of the 19th Century, industrialization brought dramatic changes in world-wide immigration. Rural people from Northern Europe were taking jobs in home industries or emigrating to farmlands in America, Australia and elsewhere. Wars and revolutions of the last half of the 19th century through the first decades of the 20th century had uprooted peoples all over the world. Literally millions became exiles or refugees fleeing poverty and oppression and the destruction of their homes and seeking entry into a prosperous and peaceful land. Advertisements stressing high wages and freedom of opportunity here in America began to draw larger numbers of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. In 1880, 73.6 percent of immigration to the United States was from Northern Europe; but by 1920, 59 percent was coming from Southern and Eastern Europe.

Americans began to question how many of the teeming impoverished millions the United States could accept. How many could we educate and assimilate into our land without destroying the cohesiveness of our language and culture and customs and laws and institutions? The diversity of these newer immigrants brought problems of education and assimilation. As our forefathers had correctly foreseen, for many immigrants, Americanization was time- consuming, costly and painful. In a growing number of cases the Americanization process didn’t take place at all. In the forty year period from 1880 to 1920, legal immigration totaled 23,465,000 more than double the total for the previous fifty years, and by 1920 the U.S. population had increased to 105,710,600. The problems caused by the changing face of immigration during this period brought about many new immigration laws which were eventually codified in the Immigration Act of 1917. This law excluded not only convicts and prostitutes, but also anarchists, contract laborers, those likely to become public charges, and those advocating the overthrow of our government.

In 1921 the nation’s first immigration law based on national quotas was passed into law; and three years later, in March of 1924, The New York Times editorialized:”The country has a right to say who shall and who shall not come in . .. the basis of restriction must be chosen with a view not to the interest of any group or groups in this country, . . . but rather with a view to the country’s best interests as a whole.”

Unfortunately, the situation changed drastically in the period between the late 1960s and the present. In 1965, liberal forces within the Democratic Party led by Lyndon Johnson’s administration and Senator Ted Kennedy railroaded a destructive immigration law through Congress. The 1965 law totally destroyed the checks and balances of the very effective and pro- American McCarran-Walter Immigration Law with the national origins quota system established early in the 20th Century. Under the pre-1965 law, total legal immigration, including foreign spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens, refugees and asylees was annually less than 300,000. Eighty five percent of all immigrants from the early 1920s until the late 1960s were from Europe. Those immigrants were easily assimilated into the American mainstream. Senator Ted Kennedy and his allies in the Johnson administration changed all that with their 1965 immigration law, which has been further liberalized several times. These changes including amnesty for several million illegal aliens have sown the seeds of ethnic strife in America. Today, over 85% of all immigrants to the U.S. are non-European. The great American “melting pot” has begun to melt down.

Is there anything that can be done to turn back the clock and undo the damage done to America in the last half of the 20th Century?

Unfortunately, no.

But we can and must stop any further damage now, lest the United States become “balkanized” torn apart by ethnic conflicts as happened in Yugoslavia.

If we don’t take action now, the surging flood of legal and illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America will soon form a majority in California and the Southwest. Some of these Latino militants are already organizing to form those states into a new nation called AZTLAN.

If and when that happens, these United States will be united no more!

The Immigration Crisis

  • “Our present immigration laws are unsatisfactory…all persons should be excluded who are below a certain level of economic fitness…” —Theodore Roosevelt
  • The U.S. admits almost 1,000,000 legal aliens annually, the highest sustained rate in our history
  • For every 100 illegal aliens who find jobs in the US., 65 American workers are displaced
  • Over the last 30 years, Congress has tripled legal immigration levels
  • The Pew Research Center found that “If present trends continue, the population will rise to 438 million in 2050, from 260 million in 2005, and 82 percent of the increase will be due to immigrants arriving from 2005 to 2050 and their U.S. offspring.”
  • Edwin Rubenstein, director of ESR Research and former director of research at the Hudson Institute, found that immigrants (legal and illegal) cost the federal government a net loss of $80 billion a year.

Solutions Supported by AIC

  • Increase funding and manpower of U.S. Border Patrol; assign US. military troops to help the Border Patrol regain control of our southern border
  • Reduce legal immigration levels to traditional levels of no more than 250,000 self-supporting immigrants per year
  • End all federal public assistance to non-citizens except emergency health care
  • Increase funding and manpower for the enforcement of laws to fine and incarcerate employers of illegal aliens
  • Repeal federal bilingual education programs and bilingual balloting
  • Prohibit affirmative action benefits for non-citizens
  • Cut foreign aid and deployment of U.S. troops abroad to fund immigration enforcement. Our first duty is to protect our own nation and its people