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One group whose attitudes we can examine was the group of mainly middle class people known as the Progressives. This was a group whose attitudes towards the immigrants was somewhat ambivalent.
On the one hand, the Progressives wanted to help the immigrants. They felt that immigrants were exploited by the employers from the class of rich elites. They wanted to help immigrants have better living conditions in their homes. For these reasons, they pursued various reforms. They pushed for safer working conditions in factories. They set up settlement houses to try to help immigrants improve their lifestyles. These actions and others showed that the Progressives wanted to improve the lot of immigrants.
On the other hand, the Progressives saw the immigrants as a negative force in American politics and society. One reason they wanted women to get the vote was to balance out the votes of the immigrant men. They felt that the immigrants were easily used by corrupt political machines in cities. They felt that immigrants tended to have very bad social habits such as the tendency to drink too much. For these reasons, the Progressives pursued such reforms as Prohibition. In short, the Progressives also thought that immigrants helped make the political system more corrupt and helped to degrade American social values.
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