My thesis for my history paper is, "America has always rejected immigrants, even as it has accepted them."
Since immigration is such a broad topic I'm having a hard time trying to figure out how to outline my paper. This is what I've come up with:
- America starts off being indifferent about immigrants
- America starts rejecting immigrants
- American starts regulating immigrants
- America has a love-hate relationship with immigrants
Where should I start my research? Should I start from Ellis island and then talk about a period where they started to reject immigrants and then find another period where they regulate it, and so on?
To handle the topic of how the United States has rejected immigrants even as they accepted them, I would consider several points.
I think it would be appropriate to discuss how our country is basically a country of immigrants. Discuss reasons why people came. This would include economic, political, social, cultural, and religious reasons. While doing this, you should show how some colonies rejected people with different religions and ways of life. Thus, you could establish that we rejected people even before we were a country. You should point out the irony of people coming to escape persecution and then persecuting others while they were here. You can expand on this after we became a country also.
Next, I would go into the waves of immigration to our country. You can discuss the relevance of Ellis Island AND Angel Island. It is important to consider immigration from Asia as well as from Europe. Discuss the reasons why people wanted immigrants to come. Some of this would be similar to why people established colonies in the first place. Then discuss how different waves of immigration frightened people. Explain why Americans whose families had come to the United States just a generation or two earlier began to want to keep out new immigrants from different parts of the world. Discuss the fears immigrants from North and West Europe had about immigrants from South and East Europe. Again, consider the economic, political, social, cultural, and religious factors at play here. I would also do the same for immigrants from Asia.
I would give examples of groups that worked to keep out immigrants. Discuss the beliefs of Know-Nothing Party, the Ku Klux Klan, the American Protective Association, and other groups that wanted to restrict immigration.
From there, I would give examples of various laws that restricted immigration. Discuss the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Emergency Quota Act, the National Origins Act, and other laws that restricted immigration to the United States. I would also give examples of how we encouraged immigration in times of war. The Bracero Program would be an example of this.
I hope these ideas help you with your paper.