Jessica G. Pennsylvania


My letter is about how through history, immigration has been similar, but it has progressed slightly since then.

Dear Future President,

During the past election there has been some concerns about immigration and I myself have a few questions about immigration and some points that I would like to make.

Regarding the citizenship test, why are some of the questions on there questions that most US citizens don’t know the answer to? I ask this only because I find it unfair to people who want to come live in the United States and have the same opportunities, freedoms, and the ability to feel safe in this country. I would think that the questions that would be asked on the test wouldn’t be too easy, but then they wouldn’t be too hard. I think that each year the citizenship test should have different questions based on the demographics of immigrants throughout the world.

Going back in history, there was a time, specifically when the Irish immigrants came over. There was a conflict whether they were considered as part of the “white” community or just immigrants. Looking at some resources from the time, it seems that people didn’t really consider them to be “white”, but considered them to be more black or according to a political cartoon from that time, equal to a black person. Religion also had an impact on how people saw the Irish immigrants, because they had certain beliefs. There were things that were assumed about them, such as them hating the bible, hating the Public School system, etc.The Irish were also indentured servants and people said that the black people were worth too much to be wasted on building levees and clearing land. Some names that people used when talking about the Irish were, Paddies, “Irish slaves”, “bound boys” or “white slaves”. When comparing the Irish to the Americans, the Irish women were often seen as more manly looking than the American women.

Moving up through the 19th century, you have more immigrants coming over, like the Chinese. Now in 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act came into play, which prohibited Chinese immigration. The only reason why people came up with this act was because they wanted to stop the Chinese people from continuing to take the American's jobs. The only reason why they wanted to Chinese people to come over in the first place was because the Chinese people offered to work more hours for less money and essentially do the jobs that no one wanted to do. In a document that I read, there was a political cartoon about the Chinese Exclusion Act and how the Chinese people were treated. Basically, the image showed an American woman talking to a mob of Irish and German thugs telling them that America gives a fair chance to all men. That seems a little ironic to me because of the fact that America didn’t really give a fair chance to all men, especially with the Irish.

Going to more modern times in history, you have the Mexican immigrants in the 20th century. The Mexican immigrants left their countries for the same reasons that the Chinese left their countries for: work and money. Some Mexicans found work very quickly, but for some it took a little to find good work. A lot of the Mexicans found good work in Chicago, Texas, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Los Angeles. Most of the jobs that immigrants found in these places were good for a while; to start off with to support their families. But the best place that immigrants found jobs was in Los Angeles because it was such a nice place.

After reading all of this, do you think there is anyway to possibly take a look at what we did here and use what worked out well for policies now?

Science Leadership Academy @ Center City

Science Leadership Academy @ Center City

We are high school students from Philadelphia! We've been studying immigration in U.S. history so many of our letters include our opinions on this issue.

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