Immigration in the USA- two interesting facts.

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Immigration in the usa– two interesting facts.

Before the 20th century America was like a ‘melting pot’ with an open-door policy to immigration, allowing millions of immigration, allowing millions of immigrants in who wanted to achieve the ‘American dream’ However in the 1920’s ‘old immigrants’ began to fear their way of life would be threatened by ‘new immigrants’ arriving from poorer ares of Europe, which led to attitudes towards immigration changing and immigration laws being introduced for many reasons.

Fear of revolution.

Fear of revolution was a partly important reason for changing attitudes towards immigration in the 1920’s.The 1917 Russian revolution led to a spread of fear of communism around the world, as Lenin declared that he wanted to end capitalism in all countries. Many new immigrants continued to arrive in the usa from Russia after WW1 and this created a fear of them starting a communist revolution.

This led to changing attitudes because it led to fears that immigrants were communists or anarchists  or would  try and destroy capitalism in the usa so there were increased calls to prevent immigration. The 1919 Palmer raids, which broke out after Attorney General Palmer’s house led to an attack on communism during which 6,000 foreign radicals were arrested, jailed and deported.

This led to changing attitudes because it led to increased paranoia about immigrants and resulted in further stereotypes and increased calls and demand for immigration restriction. However, this was less important because hysteria was short lived and people eventually began to lose faith in Palmer as they realised the communist threat had been exaggerated. 

After the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, there was growing unrest of whether the same could happen to the USA, creating a fear of ‘red’ (communists) coming in the second wave of immigrants from Russia and Eastern Europe. This was heightened by the creation of the first American Communist party (CPSUA) set up on the 1st May 1919.

This led to changing attitudes because fear of revolution was an important reason for the changing attitudes towards immigrants because the word ‘anarchist’ began to be used like ‘terrorist’ is today. Additionally, this fear was known as ‘the red scare’ and it caused immigrants to be under suspicion of being involved in plotting a revolution, of anarchists attempting to overthrow the American capitalist government and the way of life.


Isolationism was adopted after the war, that America should focus on its own affairs rather than Europe. The American public goes on to elect Harding in 1920 who was commonly quoted using the phrase “return to normalcy” which was associated with America removing herself from foreign affairs and putting herself first.

After WW1 America began to regret it’s involvement in the war and become hostile to many immigrant groups and anything foreign. They reintroduced a policy of isolationism including refusing to join the league of nations.

This led to changing attitudes as it showed Americans’ determination to stay isolated, with many wanting immigrants bringing problems from their home countries into the USA. WW1 acted as  a catalyst that sped up further immigration restrictions such as 1921 emergency quota act and 1924 national origins act, that limited immigration from certain countries.

This lead to changing attitudes because although less immigrants were arriving it increased hostility towards those who were still arriving or were already there. However, this was less important because isolationism was not a new foreign policy after WW1 and instead a return of existing laws and attitudes towards immigrants that had existed before 1920’s. 

The US’ participation in WW1 on the side of ‘the Allie’ made many people worried that immigrants would be loyal to their home country, if they were part of the ‘opposition’, instead of America which encouraged the phrase “100% Americanism” and the idea of it being a national jury of all inhabitants to protect America.

This lead to changing attitudes on immigration because Isolationism and WW1 was an important reason in changing attitudes towards immigrants was because there was widespread agitation against “hyphenated Americans” such as the German-Americans and there was worry that they would feel sympathy or loyalty to their home country.

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