Free «Sociology: Immigration» Essay Sample

Question 1

In the geographical context, the “old immigration” in Canada and the United States was characterized by white, homogenous and mostly European population. Most immigrants from these countries involved only the white community. However, during the 1960s, racism was eliminated, and the introduction of other immigration policies resulted to the beginning of the “new immigration”. The comparison between the two countries immigration focuses on the differences in the policies and the impact on the citizens. In addition, this comparison is dictated by the need identify the variations in way of life of these immigrants. The two countries had their immigration policies changed completely (Camayd-Freixas, 2013).

The difference in the systems resulted from the economic background of the immigrants. This is evident in the fact that the United States policy primarily entailed family reunification while Canada emphasized on skill possession. At the time of the Cold War, Canada engaged in the resettlement of refugees but not to such extent as the United States because its policy focused on economic aspects. The cultures of the new immigrants impacted the two nations differently. In the case of Canada, it remained multicultural while the US emphasized assimilatory system.

The focus of this comparison is the two aspects, that is integration and the immigrants’ political contribution. In her analysis, Irene Bloemraad stresses on three factors contributing to the comparison of these nations (Camayd-Freixas, 2013). First, she stipulated about citizenship acquisition, mobilization of the community and the government representation by the foreign citizens. It is not unexpected that the US and Canada have various approaches in all the three factors. The citizenship in Canada increased up to 72% in 2001 while that of the US decreased. In relation to the representation of the immigrants in parliament, 2% and 15% were occupied by them in the United States and Canada respectively. The Canadian government grants welcoming reception to the immigrants, which is represented in different ways; for instance, settlement, the provision of data for orientation and multiculturalism. The administration of citizenship in Canada seemed distinct from that in the US. The government would ensure linkage with community organizations and friendlier interactions. The state believes that citizenship is a way of improving the national infrastructure and the economy as a whole. In observing the mobilization of community in both nations, Bloemraad focused on Vietnamese refugees and Portuguese immigrants in Toronto and Boston (Camayd-Freixas, 2013).

Another reason for this comparison is the extent of advantages that accrue to immigrants due to the attainment of citizenship. In the United States, the benefits seemed to be higher compared to Canada. However, the situation changed due to the increase in the number of foreign-born, and this resulted to a reduction of the levels of citizenship. Bloemraad argued against this notion because, in Canada, the situation was different. Thus, the increase in foreign-born citizens led to rising levels of citizenship. Another key factor that might have caused this situation in the US is the presence of a vast number of illegal immigrants. As concluded by Bloemraad, all these reasons account for the fact that Canadians treated the immigrants well.

A larger number of settlement institutions appeared in Toronto compared to Boston in the case of Portuguese and Vietnamese immigrants (Joppke & Seidle, 2012). The reason for this was the presence of numerous multiethnic organizations in Toronto. In addition, the Vietnamese benefited much from the citizenship acquisition because the programs established earlier could suit them. In Boston, such groups existed, and some even opted to incorporate the Vietnamese. The analysis of the organizational capacity of the Portuguese versus the Vietnamese showed varied results. Without the intervention of the state, the population of the Portuguese would support more agencies than the Vietnamese. The reason for this is their long history and time to create supportive organizational infrastructure. As a result of this, the Portuguese community had more agencies than the Vietnamese one.

However, there were differences in some categories of social services, advocacy, media and politics (Joppke & Seidle, 2012). The dissimilarity resulted from the need of the Vietnamese to establish stronger social services and proper settlements compared to the Portuguese who focused on the established agencies. The support given to refugees in Canada relates to the issue of multiculturalism. The Vietnamese Canadians engaged in various occupations in the economy of the country. Most of them worked in technical institutions, and some as manufacturing entrepreneurs. Those in the US also had jobs so that high poverty levels were not registered. Both countries accepted these refugees and allowed them to earn income through contribution to the economies.

Question 2

The Castillo family migrated to the US through legal status and family sponsorships. Most of the members lived in the US while others in the Dominican Republic. The Castillo family lived in these countries in different cohorts. The first cohort entailed eight members while the second had twenty seven. Through labor market and strong relationship with the Dominican Republic, the first group secured citizenship in the US. They engaged in survival approaches such as pooling of earnings and community empowerment in America. The women in the group had to participate in the informal economy with no payment (Joppke & Seidle, 2012). The second cohort women engaged in waged occupations, such as factories, since they also had responsibilities in the family. 49% of Dominicans got jobs in New York, with 55% of them coming from the Castillo family.

In order to understand the manner, in which the Castillo family perceived the US citizenship, it should be noted that there were the active ones, sojourners, recent arrivals, transnational, and settled migrants. The multinational ones lived in the Dominican Republic, and the US Sojourners, on the other hand, entailed people residing in the US nearing their retirement ages. The recent arrivals, Sojourners and the migrants who had settled belonged to the second cohort. The acquisition of the US citizenship depended on the gender and the labor market, with these factors determining the urge to become a citizen (Kazin, Edwards, & Rothman, 2011). The first group comprised of four women three of whom gained naturalization while one applied for it. They spent most of their lives working in low-paying jobs and did not have enough money to save. These circumstances forced some of them together with their children to move to the Dominican Republic. This was made possible through family agreements and networks.

The Castillo family maintained strong ties that strengthened their relationships and their need to settle in these countries. It is evident in the case of Zena, a family member who is divorced. The emotional torture due to this action made her lose the motivation to work or even stay in New York. Sometimes, they would move to the Dominican Republic because they did not want to live with their grown children for long. It is a cognitive factor that influenced her decisions whether to get citizenship or not.

On the other hand, Mariana and Isabel are happily married and live with their children in the US (Kazin, Edwards, & Rothman, 2011). They do not seek permanent citizenship in the US because of their husbands’ health problems. For this reason, they plan to retire and live in the Dominican Republic. These women prefer transnational living because of the uncertain nature of the immigration laws. Additionally, they do not see any benefits in getting the citizenship in America because of the same reason. Gaining US citizenship would be advantageous because of the jobs available and the government help. Therefore, the uncertainty about how long a person was required to stay abroad made them seek for the citizenship. Other advantages of living permanently in the US would be not just securing their jobs but also their strong family ties. The emotional ties shown by husband to wife and the children would help the women keep their sojourning. Their children live in the US and help each other in taking care of the aged family members (Kazin, Edwards, & Rothman, 2011).

Another difficulty in staying longer in the Dominican Republic is the complications experienced by returnees. Many issues make women stress on the citizenship because of the challenges they face in DR. Some of them are the restrictive nature of DR societies, especially regarding the norms. In regard to men, the differences in the two cohorts account for their ties to family and the manner, in which settlements are classified based on gender. These factors affect their decisions about where they would want to settle in the future. The men in the first cohort felt uneasy because of the uncertain laws enacted by the government, which could affect their pensions negatively. For this reason, they faced the need to gain the US citizenship so as to secure their money after retirement. In the case of married men, their ties to the family made it harder to decide on their future. The men in the second cohort believed that accessing the US citizenship would guarantee them a gateway to the DR. Their return would mean abandoning some lifestyle aspects in the US and improving their living standards (Kazin, Edwards, & Rothman, 2011).

Question 3

Many factors led to the reforms seen in the immigration policy of the United States. The international advancements, for instance, consequences of the World War I caused demobilization of the existing ethnic groups. Such moves resulted to other ethnic groups termed illegal because of their delegitimization. The immigration policy needed to be changed to focus on the communities that illegally got into the country. During the World War I, the levels of immigration decreased, even with the absence of legislative restrictions. However, the rate of isolationism during and after the war resulted in the desire for establishing such legislature. The introduction of radicalism made most natives reject the opposition of the immigration restrictions.

Fear of emergence of radicalism, nationalism, racism and uncertainty in the economy became the basis for the proposition of reforms in the immigration policy. For instance, the Immigration Act proposed in 1917 emphasized on particular restrictive approaches. In another case, the Congress opted for the literacy test aimed at enhancing the racism restrictions. The Act served as a barrier to illegal immigrants (Voss & Bloemraad, 2011). Due to the fact that the literacy test did not proof effective as most immigrants passed it, the anti-immigrants movements advocated for other strict approaches. The popular move was the introduction of national quotas to reduce the number of immigrants from Eastern Europe. Such strategy differed from the literacy test because it emphasized and made precise the exclusion of particular immigrants by race.

The other factor that caused tremendous impact on the immigration policy reforms was the scientific racism. It received more acceptances because it guaranteed the implementation of the national quotas. It had taken a while before the immigration agencies agreed to adopt these restrictions, but when they did, it was decided that they would also apply to the new immigrants. The common challenges resulting from racism also contributed to the acceptance of the legislation of quotas. This happened particularly to the employers because they also opposed some of the restrictions at first. An example was Henry Ford who argued for the inclusion of the quota laws because he wanted other undesired races removed (Voss & Bloemraad, 2011). A few exemptions were granted to tourists and government officials. It was a temporary quota system, and its results led to other people thinking of a permanent one, which would be more restrictive than the previous one.

Those restricted from the Southern and Eastern Europe experienced even more regulations due to the introduction of the national origins approach. It would see many immigrants undergoing the maximum ceiling. The optimum ceiling level was 150,000, which was based on the country’s population of the whites. The restrictive nature of this quota emerged from the high racial exclusion (Voss & Bloemraad, 2011). During World War II, particular economic interests and concerns from the political front became the reasons for the changes in the immigration policy. Later on, these factors integrated with the civil rights forces to propel the need for changes in the system. After the World War II, specific issues resulted to the call for liberalization of this policy. The major one was the support of human rights due to the high rise in Nazi atrocities.

Initial Conditions

During the mid-1920s, the particular group to immigrate to the US was the European laborers. The last wave included 23 million immigrants, which increased the number of the foreign-born. These people brought about many changes in the country’s cultural system. For instance, their children’s experiences shaped the way, in which policymakers viewed and understood the acquisition of citizenship in America (Voss & Bloemraad, 2011). Even in the modern society, the European immigrants seem to be progressing economically and gaining more success.

Despite the assimilation of the earlier group from Europe, the second generation faced uncertainty. The success experienced in the past failed to uncover the difficulties that this other group expected to meet regarding mobility. This impacted the changes in the immigration policy together with the slow growth and the multiple setbacks of this European community. They faced issues such as racism and discrimination, which limited their contribution to the US economy.

Influence of the Initial Conditions

At the same time, the barriers put in place by eligible US citizens saw made the refugees miss opportunities in settlement areas and the educational institutions. As a result of this, most Americans realized less contribution of these immigrants and the Congress decided to limit their influence in the US community through the reduction in their numbers. This is what led to the changes in the policy (Voss & Bloemraad, 2011). Due to these conditions, most Europeans in the US experienced hindrances regarding reception. The attitude of the Americans encouraged discrimination from policy making and nice community areas. Most groups from Europe were thought to have inferior mental abilities and biological traits that distinguished them from the Native Americans. The restrictions introduced in the 1920s were the cause of nativism and the manner, in which Americans viewed the new groups as inferior.

The laws brought about by the World War I did not entirely restrict the immigrants from Europe but succeeded in limiting those from Asia. The quotas were based on race and ethnicity and allowed the maintenance of the white community in the US. The success of restriction towards the Chinese and the Japanese accounted for racism. These groups moved to the US because of the desire to get the gold (Voss & Bloemraad, 2011). Although some of the American miners accepted the Chinese, the immigration reached a point when they drove them away because of their racist nature. For example, in California some field owners such as Collis Huntington employed the Chinese on the farms for a little wage. However, with the number of the refugees increasing, the residents of California felt that their culture was threatened. Their primary reason was that these workers reduced the standard of living of Americans because of the low wages they got.

The Chinese and Japanese citizens did not access proper jobs, and due to this, they worked for small pay. In the long-run, conflicts between these groups and the whites erupted and resulted in violence. It was the reason why most Americans pushed for the Exclusion Act against the two groups (Camayd-Freixas, 2013). Additionally, Americans feared that the Chinese culture seemed alien and could not assimilate into theirs. Another reason for the pressure to increase restrictions on the Chinese immigrants was their inferiority nature regarding morality. When the economy of the US underwent depression in the 1870s, the government formed anti-Chinese movements. The period saw Dennis Kearney, an Irish citizen who insisted on the banning of immigrants from China. Most of them thought of moving to the East, but the residents there and the Californians emphasized on the restriction of policies.

The Act of 1875, which discouraged the presence of prostitutes, also necessitated the te investigation of these immigrants. On the other hand, economic forces made the Chinese leave America. The exclusion of this people ended the US government’s acceptance of immigration. The arrival of the Japanese refugees also made most Californians angry. In fact, the Japanese children underwent particular discriminatory situations such as segregation in schools. The US president had to intervene and create a permanent solution to the problem (Camayd-Freixas, 2013). Due to this positive move, the Japanese government decided to limit the number of its citizens moving to America. The agreement did not provide information about the Japanese wives who started flocking America in search of their husbands. When the Americans realized that their number was alarming, the Congress also barred their arrival. At some point, the Japanese state requested for reduction of the quota, but the US Congress denied them this chance.

Subsequent Exogenous Changes

Other factors that required restriction of European immigration were working conditions, urbanization, Asian immigration and nativism (Joppke & Seidle, 2012) despite the push factors that facilitated their movement. They expected promising occupations and the chance to follow their aspirations. In regard to urbanization, most of the people settled in the main cities and clustered themselves so as to speak a common language. Despite the advantage of retaining their culture and customs, these individuals faced separation from the American Society. In fact, the immigrants enhanced the negative approach such as prejudice and stereotyping. As a result of this, their living conditions never improved and became unsanitary. The urban areas they resided in lacked proper infrastructure and housing projects. It affected the American economy and became a primary reason for restricting more immigrants.

The urban neighborhoods experienced fire, inadequate sewage systems and lack of electricity. The working conditions of these people featured low wages since they had no knowledge and skills. Others even opted to engage in farming just as they used to do in their native homes (Joppke & Seidle, 2012). Their conditions did not improve at all despite their efforts and working odd hours just to secure more money. Additionally, different political ideologies, stiff competition in workplaces and religion deterred the government from encouraging more European immigrants. Due to these factors, most Americans resented them and did not want to participate in federal building. The emergence of Europeans meant a change in political thinking to assimilate views of the newcomers. The move did not please most native citizens and put pressure on the Congress to design more restrictive laws against immigration.


This paper has examined Bloemraad’s contribution to understanding the immigration into the US and Canada. The way the two countries handle citizenship acquisition is also stipulated here. Additionally, the paper provided the discussion of the details on how the Castillo family viewed the US citizenship and the reforms in the immigration policy.

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