Throughout the early and mid-19th century, the U.S. operated an open-door immigration policy, allowing anybody to enter the country. In the late 1800s, the policy began to change as a reaction to fears over the effect of immigration on U.S. society.
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Immigration to the U.S. in the late 19th century coincided with the boom of the industrial revolution on the eastern coast of the U.S. and in England. Immigration in the late 19th century included European immigrants and immigrants from Asia. During the late 19th century, the increased immigration to the U.S. coincided with the largest increase in the standard of living and production numbers in the history of the world, according to the International Society for Individual Liberty. The increase in numbers of immigrants did not have a negative effect on the number of jobs available to U.S. citizens.
Mass immigration to the U.S. produced polarising political views amongst U.S. intellectuals and politicians. Throughout the late 19th century, immigration sparked a large wave of nationalism within the U.S., with a fear of foreign immigrants sparking calls for immigration reform, the Social Science Research Council reports. Political groups, including the New England Elites and Ku Klux Klan, began working and campaigning for immigration reform on the grounds of anti-Semitism and anti-Catholic feeling.
By increasing immigrant numbers, the U.S. found an increase in manufactured goods and the relative wealth of U.S. citizens. Through the operation of a capitalist market economy the U.S. produced more goods than could be consumed by immigrants and U.S. citizens, this brought more wealth into the U.S. through the sale of manufactured goods through exports to other countries. As the immigrant workforce within the U.S. began to save their money in banks and through investments the amount of market capital in the U.S. increased and created a favourable economic environment that increased value of the U.S. economy.
Throughout the late 19th century, the U.S. government began changing the immigration policy of the nation, with a gradual reduction in the number of people who were allowed to enter the U.S. As so-called undesirable groups, such as gypsies, were restricted, the commercial shipping companies of the U.S. and Europe that brought people to the U.S. began to refuse some groups passage to the U.S., Leiden University reports. The shipping companies were required to pay the fare for the return journey of any person refused entry to the U.S., reducing the profits of the companies. In 1882, the U.S. government began restricting the immigration of Chinese people and other groups, including criminals and prostitutes; these and others were refused entry to the country.
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