Changes in Immigrant Reception as a Factor of Race

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Although Mexicans and Eastern and Southern Europeans have historically faced public and governmental resistance from the United States, Europeans managed to comparatively integrate and achieve social equality more so and more rapidly than Mexican Americans. This statement may find truth largely because Anglo-Saxon racial nationalist identity was forcibly unified and solidified by American war involvement and a collective economic struggle and rise to the middle class. Today, the degree of reception of Mexicans widely differs among racially and politically eclectic Americans. However, progress and prosperity for America?s next door neighbor has been prolonged by racism, xenophobia, and nativist fears as Mexican Americans remain contained by the classification of a dominantly working-class poor.

In the 1880?s, what is now referred to as ?New Immigration? commenced(Gerstle, 121). This term refers to the influx of Southern and Eastern Europeans into the United States, whom previously had low representation. By 1910, the census revealed that 32 million Americans, or one third of the nation, lived in immigrant families.

Most of these Southern and Eastern European immigrants were of Catholic and Jewish faiths which proved to isolate and disunite the previously largely Protestant and Anglo-Saxon America (Gerstle, 84). These new immigrants were drawn to the urbanizing America and illusions of grandeur. As the American economy grew increasingly industrialized, people were forced to centralize into up and coming cities, often forcing these poor new immigrants into unsanitary, confined, and practically unlivable conditions (Riis, 59). Unfortunately for these immigrants, many became a product of their meager environment, as the building tenements in cities like New York became harboring grounds for crime and disease (Gerstle, 48). This(along with distinct cultural differences in the new immigrants and the old) perpetuated negative stereotypes of these Catholics and Jews and further disunited Americans.

In April of 1917, Woodrow Wilson would declare...