Why the Conflict with the Newcomers?

September 5th, 1820

Quarreling between citizens and immigrants should not be tolerated.

Quarreling between citizens and immigrants should not be tolerated.

Immigrants have always been discriminated against and treated quite poorly as they have arrived to the United States. “I despise the mistreatment, but since I’m the foreigner I deserve less respect. I guess it makes sense, but it doesn’t seem fair,” an Irish immigrant said in an interview. Jews and Quakers are making the long trip from their home countries, seeking religious freedom and to avoid harassment about their religion; Irish Catholics had to leave because they were also being stripped of their rights.  However, what I don’t think they understand when making the decision to come here is that almost anyone who comes from a drastically different culture and a different way of life will struggle to fit in. The United States just isn’t progressive enough to be as accepting as we should be (1).

Last year, the Supreme Court passed an act to enforce the notation of each immigrant traveling into the United States. Great idea! We are finally documenting everyone who enters the  country, but why didn’t we start doing this earlier? Didn’t anyone think it would be helpful to organize a record of who is residing in our country? It would sure be beneficial for management. If we know how many people are living here, we can better service the population. If I were to take the horrible trip across the Atlantic, and walk off the boat in my new home, I would want to be acknowledged as at least part of the US community, let alone a citizen of it. Every day I find myself somehow interacting with immigrants, and it doesn’t make sense that the government didn’t track the new residents. Immigrants are becoming a large portion of our population. Yes, they reap the benefits. They have come here from horrid living conditions, often unemployment, lack of adequate housing, food shortages and severe mistreatment by their home country’s governments. In the United States, they are likely to find work and better living conditions, but they are also likely to face discrimination and isolation due to the United State’s lack of acknowledgment of their residency (2).

Sadly the “promise” of the Promise Land does not include inclusion and respect. Yes, they are able to find work. Yes, they are able to escape hurtful persecution, and yes, they are given a chance at a better life, but don’t they also deserve to be treated with a little more respect?

The Irish immigrants that came into this country practiced Irish Catholicism, but since there wasn’t a strong Irish Catholic community in the US, they had to attend Roman Catholic churches if they wanted to attend a church at all. There are significant differences and it wasn’t an ideal situation for them, but at least their situation wasn’t as bad as the Germans’. Most of the Germans couldn’t speak English when arriving to America, which puts them at a great disadvantage when trying to assimilate. “It is one of the hardest things to try and connect with people and find opportunities when you don’t speak the same language as everyone else,” a German immigrant said (translated). However, most of the Germans came into America and found jobs as farmers, having experience from their past in Germany. Irishmen would have to do more physical labor, and are often employed as construction workers and railroad builders. (3).

On the topic of the discrimination against the immigrants, I don’t see an easy fix that can quickly solve the issue. There is however, a gradual way; and it is becoming more progressive thinkers. Times are changing, slavery is becoming more frowned upon, and we are starting to have conversations about how to treat our fellow citizens with respect. With such a large influx of immigrants coming to the country, the lines separating us are blurring. Our neighbors are immigrants. Our coworkers are immigrants. Our children are attending school with immigrants. The next generation will have to learn to be more comfortable with people from different backgrounds. These people are all very hard working, and they can without a doubt, take power in our society, which was founded on the idea of equality. We can’t just stand idol not changing anything, but instead we must embrace the newcomers, learn to appreciate the diversity they bring, their helpfulness in our community and ultimately befriend them and learn to live respectfully beside them.

Source List:

Recorded Immigrants (1):

http://www.archives.gov/research/immigration/port/atlantic-gulf-great-lakes.html

Information about religious issues (2):

https://sites.google.com/site/thenorthsite/early-immigration-in-the-u-s-1

Cultural and Religious differences for the Irish and Germans entering the US (3):

http://accelhistory.wikispaces.com/German+and+Irish+Immigration+in+the+Early+1800s

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