In what ways did immigration alter the nation's population and shape its politics?

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First, one should note that human beings, as an entire species, are not native to North America. All humans living in North America are immigrants, starting with the Native populations who first crossed over the Bering Strait from Asia to populate the country. The Athabaskan tribes who migrated from Canada...

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First, one should note that human beings, as an entire species, are not native to North America. All humans living in North America are immigrants, starting with the Native populations who first crossed over the Bering Strait from Asia to populate the country. The Athabaskan tribes who migrated from Canada to the southwestern United States approximately 500 years ago and were the ancestors of the Navajo people came into conflict with the Pueblo peoples living in the area, such as the Hopi, and brought a nomadic and militaristic culture that shaped both relationships with other tribes and with European settlers.

European immigrants arrived on the continent after Native populations were well established. English-speaking immigrants predominated in the Northern states, while the Spanish initially settled in the southwest. This pattern of settlement, along with the French settlers in Louisiana and the African slaves imported to work in southern plantations, laid the groundwork for contemporary ethnic distributions. This ethnic variety also led to historic patterns of economic inequality.

While the immigrants from England and Scotland were mainly Protestants, later waves of Irish, Italian, and Polish immigrants were Roman Catholics. Many Jewish people fleeing the Nazis settled in the United States. Asian immigrants arrived on the West Coast in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These immigrants created increasing religious diversity.

The religious and ethnic diversity of the United States has contributed to its growth as a multicultural liberal democracy, despite periods of anti-immigrant prejudice and nationalistic and racist backlash.

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Immigration has affected the population and the politics of the United States in many ways. Here are three.

First, immigration has made the population and the politics of the US more diverse. In the first century of European settlement of the Eastern seaboard of North America, the population was made up almost exclusively of Northwest Europeans and of slaves of African descent. Since then, immigrants from all over the world have settled in the US. They and their descendants have multiplied the diversity of our population, and they have introduced many new points of view into our politics. The increase in the Latino population, and the increase in the popularity of socialism after the mid-nineteenth century examples of this.

Second, immigration has made the population and the politics of the US more conservative. You might think the opposite, that the greater diversity discussed above would encourage a more liberal population and polity. While it's true that it's easier to find a greater diversity of liberal points of view which arrived in the US with immigrants, each with many millions of adherents, the trend of US politics compared to other countries is to become more conservative. An example of this is the much greater respect given to individual rights and liberty versus collective rights in our public policy.

Third, immigration has made the population and the politics of the US more contentious. This isn't a recent phenomenon, but one of society's ability to cope with difference. Beginning in the latter half of the nineteenth century, when advances in steamship technology made ocean crossings safer and more affordable, each successive wave of immigration has met with greater hostility from American society than the one that preceded it. One reason for this is that people generally like to protect what they have, such as jobs, property, or a way of life. Some people feel threatened by the arrival of immigrants, because they think they might lose what they've got. Another reason for this might be that people just don't like immigrants because they have different skin color, speak a different language, or practice a different religion. Whatever the cause, fear of immigrants usually makes people angry, and this anger is often expressed in public protest or in laws designed to make life difficult for immigrants. Since not everyone in America takes this point of view, debates can, and have, become a lot more acrimonious where issues touching on immigration are involved.

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The impact of immigration on American politics was clear when the Roosevelt coalition, which motivated immigrants to support the Democratic Party, was created in 1928. From that time, the immigrant vote was valued during subsequent US elections.

Moreover, in the 1960s, 20% of voters in the US were second-generation immigrants. The immigrants, many of whom were Catholic and Jewish, believed in the ideals of the Democratic Party and therefore contributed to the election of President John F. Kennedy.

In addition, immigrants have significantly influenced population growth in the US. The total number of immigrants in the US in 1965 was approximately 9.6 million. It is estimated that a total 72 million foreign-born people traveled to and settled in the US between 1965 and 2015.

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Immigration significantly changed the population and politics of the United States. Many of the immigrants who came to the United States were young people seeking to leave their home countries in order to look for a better life abroad. It was not uncommon for a young man to leave their families behind in the old country, work for a few years, and then send for the family to join him in America. As a result, of this newer, younger population, many cities developed ethnic districts. Until WWI, many of these immigrants maintained their native language as well, and it was not uncommon to find newspapers written in German and Italian. These immigrants also tended to settle inside of cities as this is where the factory jobs were located. Immigration from Europe fueled the growth of cities so much that by 1920 more Americans would live in cities than agricultural areas.  

Immigration changed politics as well. Urban bosses were able to cash in on desperate immigrants by offering them protection and jobs in return for votes. These same city bosses looked the other way on tenement safety regulations in return for kickbacks. Many immigrants also voted as blocs in order to get their candidates elected. Some famous urban politicians such as Fiorello Laguardia from New York were descended from immigrants. Immigrants in cities would eventually use their voting power in order to get reforms in cities.  

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