AMERICA'S earliest human inhabitants were themselves immigrants. About 25,000 years ago, a group of Asians crossed the land bridge connecting Alaska and Siberia and entered North America. Of course, it wasn't called America then. That name came much later.
Vox.com gathered 35 maps to explain the history of immigration to the Americas, specifically, the United States. For those of us more visually oriented, it is very informative and easy to follow reinforcing the myth that America is a land of immigrants, a lofty self-image, but at the same time, some of the maps demolish the myth of our "melting pot" and our "tolerance" towards strangers.
It explains the forced immigration (slavery) and why Europeans dominated the number of immigrants in the early 20th century; the impact of the 1965 reform of immigration that changed the makeup of immigrants.
American politicians, and Americans themselves, love to call themselves "a nation of immigrants": a place where everyone's family has, at some point, chosen to come to seek freedom or a better life. America has managed to maintain that self-image through the forced migration of millions of African slaves, restrictive immigration laws based on fears of "inferior" races, and nativist movements that encouraged immigrants to assimilate or simply leave.
But while the reality of America's immigrant heritage is more complicated than the myth, it's still a fundamental truth of the country's history. It's impossible to understand the country today without knowing who's been kept out, who's been let in, and how they've been treated once they arrive.
Unfortunately, the maps are purely factual and doesn't explain why immigration and the present wave of immigrants is such a problem with a lot of people today.
Coupled with the PEW study that reports that Asians now outnumber Hispanics as new immigrants, it could be an interesting next few years as that stat becomes more widely known among politicians and marketers. My fear is that it might create a backlash against Asians, not only from the dominant ethnic group, but also from other minorities who are still fighting for their piece of the pie and who may resent the newcomers.
But there's reason to hope for a much better outcome: that Asian American immigration advocates will join forces with the better established minorities to form an even more influential bloc of voters and consumers. If those minority groups could overcome their suspicions of each other and realize their combined strength; That coalition of African, Latino and Asian Americans complementing and energizing each other would be difficult to ignore.