When the wave of old immigration, which ended in around 1880 is compared to the new immigration wave which started shortly after, the differences are stark.
"Immigrants from the British Isles were among some of the first to land and settle the United States in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. The beginnings of large scale British immigration to the United States in the nineteenth century coincides with the changes in Britain brought on by the Industrial Revolution, but no one single social or political group is responsible for a large proportion of the immigrants.15"
The old immigrants came from Northern or Western Europe and were mostly Protestant, most were English and German, there was a great influx of Irish immigrants who started to come to America from 1845 to escape famine and hardship especially struggles with English control of their agricultural industry. Germans soon replaced the Irish as the largest growing immigrant population with an estimated 31% by 1860.
Most came over to America with their families and were skilled and educated to a degree. They came with money of their own and an understanding of how the government or system of democracy worked.
"The Old Immigrants are those immigrants who entered the United States from 1820 to 1890 when 7.7 million people came primarily from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Scandinavia, and the "Germanies" (Austria, Switzerland, and various German states)."
The new immigrants came from Southern or Eastern Europe and were Italian, Polish and were not Prostestant but Catholic and Jewish. Most of these immigrants were unskilled and illiterate and came here without their families.
"The reasons these new immigrants made the journey to America differed little from those of their predecessors. Escaping religious, racial, and political persecution, or seeking relief from a lack of economic opportunity or famine still pushed many immigrants out of their homelands."
For example, my grandfather came here along with his father, leaving his mother and siblings back in Italy, they never came to America but remained in Italy with my great-grandfather sending money to them over a few years before he went back to Italy, leaving my grandfather here alone.
"The New Immigrants are immigrants who arrived after 1890, and this group came primarily from Southern and Eastern Europe, places like Italy, Austro-Hungary, Russia, and the Baltic States.4"