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Immigration: Did They Find the Golden Door?

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Essay title: Immigration: Did They Find the Golden Door?

When many immigrants came to America during the 1900s, they envisioned a land of opportunity where they would find “the Golden Door” and the streets were “paved with gold.” There was much talk about how anyone could be rich in America and how people were not persecuted. This is not what it turned out to be. Coming to America caused more problems for the newcomers than they would have had if they stayed in the country they had previously lived in.

Persecution was a big issue in terms of the immigrants. Every immigrant group faced persecution. Whether it was for racial or religious reasons, they were discriminated in some way. A specific example of this is the Chinese Exclusion Act. This law prohibited the immigration of the Chinese people. However, it was not the government’s lone fault. “It was the jealousy of laboring men of other nationalities…that raised the outcry against the Chinese…Chinese were persecuted not for their vices but for their virtues.” (Chew, Lee p.135) Persecution made it hard for the “new immigrants” to live in comfort. It was even impossible to get a decent job. A typical manager of a store or company would probably look you over from head to foot and then with a scornful last glance, reject you. (What Problems did Immigrants Have? P.419) Because of this, many tried to assimilate into the American culture. As one immigrant girl recalled, “I was so shocked and surprised to see him (Father) do this thing (clip his beard) that I could not speak nor move for some minutes…At last he laid it (the scissors) down and said… �They do not like Jews on Cherry Street.’” For many immigrants, assimilation was not easy. They spoke with an accent, wore different clothing, and looked different. Immigrants were faced with a big problem that made their times in the “land of opportunity” very stressful and unhappy.

Poverty was another issue that the “new immigrants” were faced with. Living in dangerous tenements, immigrants faced the risk of fires, tumbling down the steep stairs, and getting sick extremely easily. “All around…was the hardness of brick stone, the stinking smells poverty.” (Yezierka, Anzia p229) Getting jobs was extremely hard. This is what the Room at the Bottom theory talks about. Because these immigrants are so desperate for jobs, they will take any jobs that others will not. Nobody wanted workers that were immigrants. Immigrants were all passed up if they were waiting for jobs. (What Problems did Immigrants Have? P.419) These immigrants, even if they were able to get a job, worked in bad conditions for low pay. The jobs were not as preferable as others. Even worse, the low pay from the jobs made them even poorer than they started out as. Very little people were able to earn enough money for their own house. Needless to say, an even smaller amount of people was able to save up a lot of money.

Another problem most of the immigrants faced was language. The only group of people who were able to understand

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