Immigrantion Assessment


Figure 1.--

Many American writers have stressed the important impact immigration has had on America in both the 19th and 20th centuries. The immigrants like Irving Berlin, Andrew Carnegie, Erickson, Ira Gerswin, Andy Grove, Oscar Hammerstein, Edward Teller, Werner Van Braun have imesurably added to the cultural, economic, and scientigic life of the United States. A huge list could be drawn up of the forrign-born Americans who have played an important role in American life. What is often not considered is the negative asoects of immigration. In fact some historians have even promoted the idea that to criticise immigration is nativist prejudice. This is not the case. There are negative asoects to immigratin. This is not to say that immigration is evil, only that there are negative consequences that should be considered in the making of public policy. A range of negatoive consequences include crime, disease, wage depression, and a host of other concerns. Many of these issues were especially pertinnt in the late 19th century when public officials were wrestling with public health and urban crowding. Normally studies of European emigration to America assess the impact on America. A poorly assessed topic is the impact on Europe. Some authors suggest that emigration provided a safty valve that help to maintaiin social pressures below the level that would have resulted in rebellion or revolution.

Impact on America

Many American writers have stressed the important impact immigration has had on America in both the 19th and 20th centuries. The immigrants like Irving Berlin, Andrew Carnegie, Erickson, Ira Gerswin, Andy Grove, Oscar Hammerstein, Edward Teller, Werner Van Braun have imesurably added to the cultural, economic, and scientigic life of the United States. A huge list could be drawn up of the foreign-born Americans who have played an important role in American life. It was immigrants in large measure that introduced socialist thought in America. While America never developed an important domestic Socilaist movement, socialist reforms over time have made an important role in modern America. Many of these reforms like Social Security were introduced during the New Deal. What is often not considered is the negative aspects of immigration. In fact some historians have even promoted the idea that to criticise immigration is nativist prejudice. This is not the case. There are negative aspects to immigratin. This is not to say that immigration is evil, only that there are negative consequences that should be considered in the making of public policy. A range of negatoive consequences include crime, disease, wage depression, and a host of other concerns. Many of these issues were especially pertinnt in the late 19th century when public officials were wrestling with public health and urban crowding.

Impact on Europe

Normally studies of European emigration to America assess the impact on America. A poorly assessed topic is the impact on Europe. Of course this varied from country to country. Both the level of emigration and the percebtage of returnees were important factors. Some authors suggest that emigration provided a safty valve that help to maintaiin social pressures below the level that would have resulted in rebellion or revolution. One author explains that the two basic non-govermental responses to poor social conditions were emigration and cooperation. Emigration was the response of both the urban poor and landless rural workers. Cooperation was the responsef those with a greater stake such as the landed peasantry. One author writes that, emigration was "... the safety valve which kept social pressure below the evel of rebellion or revolution." [Honsbawm, p. 37.] It should not be assumed that rebellion or revolution would have been successful. The forces of suppression of the states from which the immigrants came were substantial. Uprisings may have resulted in greater supression as proved to be the case in Russia. We also wonder about the impact on the states invo;ved of emigrants who eventially returned. The rate of return was particularly high among Italians. Perhaps 2 million of the 4 million emigrants may have returned. Some Europeans saw colonies as a possible outlet for over-population. This appears to have been an elusion. [Hobwbawn, pp. 69-70.] The only country where substantial numbers of people emigrated to colonies was Britain (especially Australia and New Zealand), but even here it was a very small part of the population with as far as we can see a minimal impact on domestic developments.

Sources

Hobwbawm, Eric. The Age of Empire, 1875-1914 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1987), 404p.






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Created: 6:09 AM 10/5/2006
Last updated: 6:09 AM 10/5/2006