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Chinese Immigrants

In: Social Issues

Submitted By esthermbugua
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The Chinese came into the United States as early as 1835 where they immigrated because of various reasons. China during that time was a harsh environment to live in and full of turmoil. The country experienced political upheaval with wars and rebellion making life unbearable. It was for this reason that many immigrants were escaping in order to find a refuge in the United States. In addition, due to floods, there was destroying of farmlands, which meant that no crops could grow. The loss of food coupled with loss of land to the oppressive regime that was imposing high taxes meant that the Chinese people faced the danger of starvation. In a bid to find economic reprieve, many Chinese men and women left their homes to try their luck in the new land of opportunities namely, United States. A census carried out in the United States in 1860 put the number of Chinese immigrants at 35,000.
Life at the United States did not start rosy for the immigrants and they met hostility and outright discrimination. There are significant differences in the economic and social situations of immigrants during this period. Economically, the Chinese were poor. This was because the immigrants were mostly peasants and not educated. They therefore could not get high level jobs and were mostly laborers. In fact, they worked on the Central Pacific Railway line, making up at to 90% of the workers. This is because they were willing to take lower wages than others. Their economy situations changed as the years went by because they took advantage of the cropping up frontier towns and set up thriving businesses such as laundry services, restaurants and the like. They also found work in other areas of economy and worked in agriculture and mining. In comparison, subsequent immigrants did not face intense economic hardships as such. This is because they came with an already developed skill set that was useful in getting them into the labor market effortlessly. Also as time went by, the country’s policies had changed and therefore more accommodative and tolerant to immigrants. Therefore, the later immigrants were able to get good jobs therefore have more economic advantage.
Socially, the Chinese immigrants in the period faced discrimination. This was because they were different and American resented them because of their willingness to work in situations where the citizens themselves could not work. The Chinese immigrants were willing to work during strikes, accepted lower pay and were a threat to the job security of the American citizens. They faced a lot of opposition in the United States and even laws enacted to keep their numbers down by restricting more coming in. They were isolated and therefore kept to their own communities. The community kept its culture intact and in fact most children grew up speaking Chinese. The community held Chinese classes for its children in the evening after they left school. The women were not as many as men were as most of them remained in China. Most men came on their own without their families. The women who came over and ventured into the wild west did so mostly because of sex trade. The Chinese were both in the rural and urban areas. In sharp contrast were the immigrants who came in post 1906. The immigrants came with their families. This group of immigrants was educated and had occupation in professional and technical sectors. Instead settling in the Chinese communities, others opted to live among the general population in the suburban communities. Therefore, in sharp contrast, this group was willing to mingle with the populace and assimilate in the new country. Thankfully, primarily because the discrimination was not so high as compared to that faced by the early immigrants from China.

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