The very fabric of the United States is interwoven with the presence of immigrants. When the continent was initially settled by European immigrants in the late 1600s, the country’s direction and history were both immediately changed. Over the course of American history, immigrants have been an integral attribute of the overall direction that has been taken and the level of progress that has been obtained. Famously, individuals from Ireland, China and various countries throughout Central and South America have provided a substantial labor force to help catalyze the construction and maintenance of many of the systems that comprise the American infrastructure. Without the diligence and hard work of these individuals and many like them, the United States likely wouldn’t have formed into the economic and cultural powerhouse that it is today. Yet, despite this, throughout the years, immigrants have faced tremendous social and cultural backlash as they have attempted to be integrated into the country that they so carefully helped construct. The relationship that America has developed with immigrants is thus complex and filled with substantial advances and setbacks along the way.
Immigration in its many forms provides various disenfranchised groups with a resource to potentially better themselves or those within their families and communities, and as such, it can be associated with a sense of hope for these groups and individuals. Yet, the concept of immigration is riddled with notable social and cultural issues, and as a result, many conflicts between the cultures of immigrants’ native countries and the United States have clashed over the years. Globalization and the expansions of technologies have created a scenario in which there are essentially no isolated people throughout the world, and as such, members of different countries now have a platform to attempt to understand these differing culture and how they are more readily integrated into places such as the United States.
As time progressed in the early stages of American history, and with the acquisition of Mexican territories causing a rapid increase in the number of Mexican immigrants in the southern parts of the United States, the country began observing stricter rules regarding immigration in itself and vetting begins to determine the potential for certain groups to enter into the country, as opposed to others. One of the peak instances in which Mexican workers began immigrating to the United States was during the Mexican revolution in 1915. Between 1900 and 1930, some one million Mexicans also entered the country. (Foner, 94) This in itself catalyzed a prominent rise of immigration from Mexican immigrants, which eventually led to 11.7 million Mexican immigrants residing in the United States as of 2014. Many of these individuals came, seeking economic and social opportunities for their families, buying into the concept of liberation and opportunity that many Americans had propagated.
Yet, as the influx of Mexican immigrants occurred and time progressed, various social groups began finding conflicts of interest with the immigrants themselves. This grew exponentially in the wake of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, in which President George W. Bush responded by signing legislation which placed all agencies responsible for immigration under the control of the Department of Homeland Security. Deportation began to rise exponentially and in 2006, Congress passed the Secure Fence Act, which essentially allotted an unprecedented $1.2 billion towards the construction of over 700 miles of border walls along the United States-Mexico border. The anti-Mexican immigrant sentiments have rose sharply in recent years, garnering the focus of presidents such as Donald Trump and emphasized highly in both campaign presentations and in legislative efforts. This in itself is occurring while businesses flourish from the revenue accrued from hiring illegal immigrants, resulting in approximately $992 billion in 2015.
Famously, to help combat the effects of oppression, Cesar Chavez grew as a prominent activist for peace and the inclusion of Hispanic immigrants in the United States. In 1952, he became a prominent organizer for the Community Service Organization, which dedicated much of its time to helping Hispanic communities. (Foner, 98) He spent much of his time dedicated to helping Mexican-Americans get registered to vote, and he traveled largely through California to help give speeches in support of the rights of workers across the nation. Due to his efforts, he founded the National Farm Workers Association, which dedicated a tremendous time towards organizing labor strikes and successful rallies to help the Mexican American communities. Furthermore, with his help, the NFWA led a strike of grape farmers in California to help assert the prominence of immigrants in this region. (Foner, 99)
Between the late 1930s and the mid-1970s, the United States also benefited tremendously from the presence of another immigrant group, while simultaneously vetting and subjecting them to extreme prejudice. The undergoes a period of extreme prejudice towards Asian immigrants and those of Asian descent. Prejudice against Asians was deeply entrenched, especially on the West Coast, where most immigrants from Asia lived. This occurred as a response to massive immigration of Chinese people, seeking asylum from the oppressive nature of the Chinese government, in California and along the West Coast. (Foner, 104)
Various groups expanded upon this and anti-Asian sentiments ran rampant through the United States, leading up to the events that occurred in World War II. Infamously, the Japanese empire attacked a Naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which led to an exponential increase in both fear and paranoia regarding the Japanese population in the United States. This, coupled with the economic advancements of Japanese citizens and the inability of a vast majority of United States to cope with the potential for Japanese-dominated marketplaces, led to the internment of Japanese citizens during the time of the way. In February 1942, the military persuaded FDR to order the expulsion of all persons of Japanese descent from the West Coast. (Foner, 110) Authorities removed over 110,000 men, women, and children; nearly two-third of them American citizens, to internment camps far from their homes. Much like the Hispanic communities, Asian Americans began mobilizing on a large scale in areas across California, such as in San Francisco and throughout the rest of the state. Through utilizing worker strikes, these groups were able to assert themselves and the role that Asian-Americans had played in the vast development of the United States.
In essence, these various interactions have provided a platform for much of the way that immigration has been treated historically, and how it is being treated in the present sense. It is often the case that immigration is responded to with extreme prejudice and negative response directly after a prominent influx of particular immigrant groups, or as a direct response to any particular incident which challenges the status quo within the United States at the time. This in itself comprises an interesting attribute of American society, in the fact that the country itself has long been based around the benefits which have been provided to the nation through immigrants. Various groups throughout history, despite their negative reception in the country, have provided economic benefits through the installation of cheap labor in key industries vital to the expansion of the country as a powerhouse and world leader. Historically, many different industries have relied on the prominence of these groups and the capacity to utilize their resources and manpower to develop the country’s vital platforms. Yet, regardless of this, it is often the case that these groups are simultaneously met with prejudice and negativity, often culminating in violence and apparent bigotry from those who benefit from the existence of these individuals.
This is a powerful piece of reflection upon the nature of social limitations that have been traditionally cast upon women of each generation. Betty Friedan is speaking directly to not only the women in these situations but those around them and the society in which they live, at large. This is evident in the referencing that she makes of both the wives and the children, chauffered Cub Scounts and Brownies and the husband that they lay beside at night. She seems to be writing it to address the stigmas surrounding womens’ roles. This is emblematic of the 1960s, which was a period of American history which saw drastic change in mentalities of many Americans. It was an era which was catalyzed by the Civil Rights Movement and a new wave of expression and independence brought forth by the rise of the counter-culture movements. As such, Friedan is questioning the fabric of society and women’s roles, as the roles of other disenfranchised groups begins to develop.
This document becomes significantly more meaningful, and the implications are grand in the notion that they define the perspective of a greater portion of the population. It has a sort of report-like element to it but not in a typical sense of tabloid. She includes many different examples of her opinion on the matter and how it is historically relevant. She talks about many conventions of mother-like roles at the time, and addresses them accordingly, such as the preparing of food and spending days laying beside husbands. It most definitely sounds like she knows what she is talking about, and comes from a cultivated, cohesive perspective on the matter. Furthermore, it is clear that the audience is applicable most to women that resonate with this as potentially prevalently as she does.
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