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Immigration of the Irish and Japanese to the United States

Free «Immigration of the Irish and Japanese to the United States» Essay Sample

Part 1: Important Terms Used During the Immigration

Executive order 9066: the order dates back to 1942. President Roosevelt was encouraged by the government officials to authorize to detain thousands of Americans who emigrated from Japan. Immigrants from countries that were allied with Japan in the Second World War were also arrested and detained. The American government did this for the fear that they might be loyal to Japan. The order also authorized the transportation of these citizens to centers where they would be well guarded by the soldiers. Although there is not enough evidence, the order was also applied to Italian and Germany immigrants. About 12,000 German descent citizens were arrested and at least 5,000 were interned. Italian immigrants were also arrested, and more than 400 were interned. However, the majority of those who suffered were the Japanese since the order mainly targeted them.

Kenjinkai and Japanese Association of America: Kenjinkai is a Japanese Association that joined a member depending on their prefectures. Each prefecture had its dialect, and members of Kenjinkai were supposed to help one another and marry within the group. The immigrant brought Kenjinkai to America that had different responsibilities, such as employment agencies, sponsoring different social activities, publishing their newspaper and offering legal assistance.

1903 Oxnard Strike: It was the first time in America history when members of different race allied to form a labor union. The union was between the Mexicans and the Japanese labor force, and they were demanding better terms of services, such as the salary increment.

1907 Gentlemen’s Agreement: The agreement was between the American and the Japanese. The Japanese government agreed they will not issue passports to Japanese immigrants to the US except for certain categories of professionals. The agreement was aimed to cool down the tension that was rising between the two countries over the immigration of the Japanese to the United States.

The Second Generation Irish and Japanese: they are immigrants’ children who were born in the United States. They are considered as Americans since the United States law says that any child who is born on the US soil becomes a citizen by birth. They are more educated than their parents, and they speak fluent English. They are not discriminated since they have the same rights as citizens.

The Immigration Act of 1924: This Act was passed by Congress as a measure to limit the number of immigrants to the United States and for other specific purposes. The act put in place quotas that limited the number of immigrants from particular countries from getting into the United States annually. The act categorized the immigrants into ‘non-quota’ and ‘quota immigrant’. It also determined who fell into what category. For instance, wives and unmarried children under 18 years of age of the United States citizens, religious and academic professionals, residents of the Western hemisphere (Britain, Ireland) and foreign students were placed in the non-quota category. Immigrants, who did not fall into this category, were referred to as quota immigrants, and they were subjected to annual numerical limitations. Nevertheless, some of the quota immigrants such as those skilled in agriculture and relatives of the US citizens were given some preference.

Irish maids: In the 1800s, women in America were only expected to be housewives and did not engage in any hard labor. However, Irish women immigrants did not enjoy such luxury and had to work as domestic workers. Their little mastery of the English language made it possible for most of them to get jobs as maids, or biddies as they were commonly referred to in the Americans homes. Though the wages were low, this was the only opportunity the Irish women had to earn a living. Their duties were cleaning and taking care of the house, cooking and looking after the children. The working conditions were very bad for pregnant women who had to work for a longer period in order to make up the time they did not work during pregnancy. The maids also had no legal recourse of their rights, and they were usually victims of sexual assault.

The Irish and Democratic Party: The participation of Irish immigrants in the civil war gave them an opportunity to apply for better jobs in factories and in building railroads. During this era, there were no government constraints on American capitalism, so the Irish formed trade unions through which they would strike for better-working conditions, higher wages and fewer hours at work. Some of the Irish male immigrants eligible to voting realized that only through the local ballot would they be able to change the circumstances and improve their situation. They joined the Democratic Party and used it as a platform for getting elected to city councils and mayoral positions.

Part 2: The Immigration of the Irish to Boston and the Japanese to Hawaii and California

American is a country that was built by immigrants from all corners of the world. The white were the first people to discover the economic potential of America, and they migrated to settle in this country. They were later followed by other communities who also came to improve their standards of living. The paper discusses the Irish and Japanese migration to the United States. The paper will also compare the origin, economic incorporation, settlement and socio-political adaptation of immigrants. The role of ethnicity in their respective economic incorporation and the settlement will be also discussed. The situation of the second Japanese and Irish generation will be also analyzed.

Japanese Migration to Hawaii and California (CA)

In the year 1835, the sugar cane plantation was established in Hawaii by the white settlers, which was an independent monarchy. The large numbers of workers were required to work on a sugar plantation (Masterson and Funada-Classen 10). The Hawaiian foreign minister who also had sugar cane plantatons wrote to American businessmen in Japan requesting for workers. In the year 1868, at least 140 Japanese sailed from Yokohama to the United States (Masterson and Funada-Classen 11). They were supposed to work in a sugar cane plantation.

Economic Activities

The first Japanese who immigrated to Hawaii were supposed to work in sugar cane farms. The working in sugar plantation was harsh for them because they were not used to hard labor. They were supposed to work in this sugar cane plantation for four years, but most of them returned home due to the harsh working environment (Masterson and Funada-Classen 12). Other Japanese immigrants were: cooks, tailors, printers, and wood workers.

Social Political Adaptation

Unlike the Irish, who married other Irish immigrants, there was arranged marriage among Japanese immigrants in the United States (Ng 5). The groom was in the United States, and the bride was in Japan. The arrangements were made by parents whereby the groom returns to Japan to meet his wife.

The Japanese immigrants were supposed to join Kenjinkai depending on their prefectures (Ng 8). Kenjenkia was supposed to make critical decisions among its member such as solving the conflicts among their members. The agency was also responsible for offering legal assistance to the members. Kenjenkai also represented the Japanese community in fighting for their rights to the national government, such as favorable working conditions for Japanese working and living in the United States. They also demanded to be given citizenship.

Irish Immigration to the United States

The Irish immigrants to America in the first half of the 19th century were comprised mainly of middle-class Protestants traders and lower-class Catholics. The Protestants originated from the northern provinces of Ireland. The main factor that pushed them to immigrate to America was the better trading conditions in America. They were also attracted to America by the overwhelming majority Protestant population (Miller and Miller 5). They felt that they would fit in quite easily because they had something in common with the natives.

For the Catholics, circumstances were very different. Their move to America was an attempt to escape from the pervasive economic hardships they were experiencing in Ireland. At this time, Ireland was going through the great Irish potatoes famine that had led to the deaths of a million of Irish men and women. For most of the Irish, who were fed up with starvation and diseases, immigrating to America was the best chance for survival. The Catholics were from the southern provinces of Ireland, especially from the counties of Connaught and Munster (Miller and Miller 10).

The immigrants came to America in two different locations; one group, who could not afford the fare from Ireland straight to America, came by land or sea from Canada, which was then called the British North America (Miller 8). The rest arrived by the transatlantic voyages to the East coast ports of Boston and New York.

Economic Incorporation

Most of the Irish immigrants had no skills, were illiterate, therefore, the only option to survive was to look for lowly paid jobs in order to survive (Miller 10). Irish men took up any unskilled labor they could find such as unloading ships, cleaning stable and yards and pushing carts. Irish men laborers were referred to the paddies.

On the other hand, Irish women were employed as domestic workers in American homes. The Irish maids were given the name bridgets, or biddies. Their domestic duties included cooking, cleaning and taking care of the children at home. The wages were very low, and women were forced to work for very long hours.

Settlement

The majority of Protestant immigrants had skills, and with their little savings that they had made back in Ireland, they were able to settle in and assimilate. Some were even fortunate enough to start up new lives and prosper. However, the destitute and hungry Catholics were not so lucky because they had no money. They were forced to settle in ghettos along the Boston waterfront in the area of Battery March and Broad Streets. Those who did not stay in Boston moved as far as Chicago, New Orleans, and San Francisco.

Social-Political Adaptation

Most Irish immigrants were not interacting with the local communities, and they were spending time together. Hence, most of them engaged in reciting poems and storytelling. This was because they were poor, and the other white settlers were hostile to their community (Miller 15). The high rate of unemployment also made a lot of idle young men and boys engage in crime. The state of hopelessness also encouraged prostitution to thrive as a means of survival as it seemed the jobs available were getting scarce each day.

The Irish immigrants had no right to engage in political matters until later on. They started as mediators for the candidates in the Democratic Party, who promised them a better life if they voted for them (Miller 18). However, only a few of the Irish men were considered eligible to vote.

The Role of Race and Ethnicity in Their Respective Economic Incorporation and Settlement, the Act of Resistance, Community Formation and Adaptation of the Japanese and Irish

The Irish and Japanese who migrated and settled in the United States faced social and economic discrimination. Therefore, they did not enjoy the privileges that the white settlers had either. For instance, Japanese were forced to work in white settlers’ sugar plantation for many hours (Masterson and Funada-Classen 13). They were supposed to work for ten hours a day and earned four dollars a month. The working conditions were also poor in these plantations. Immigrants were given difficult tasks, such as harvesting the canes and digging the land.

During the Second World War, the American President signed an Executive order 9066. The order required all Japanese to be arrested and detained in camps. They were supposed to live iin these camps, where they were under military guard. The objective was to ensure that Japanese movement could be closely monitored since their country was not allied to the United States during the Second World War.

Since the Japanese were Asian, they were not supposed to acquire American citizenship. Under the 1970 naturalization law, only the white settlers were supposed to acquire American citizenship. Other races were denied that right; therefore, they could not enjoy the rights that were given to Americans.

Due to racism, the Japanese adapted to the American environment in different ways (Masterson and Funada-Classen 18). First, they hand their organization that was called Kenjinkai that was supposed to help the Japanese community in different ways. They did not interact with the white settlers. It was said that they preserved their culture and had marriages only within the Japanese community.

The Irish immigrants were second lowest in their social status, with black slaves being at the very bottom of the social ladder (Miller 3). The fact that they were Catholics in a country that was predominantly Protestant fueled the resentment of the Americans towards the Irish.

With no formal training, the Irish were desperate for any form of work that they would find. They took up menial jobs that were considered by the Americans too low for any member of the society to undertake. They became vulnerable to exploitation, being forced to work for long hours with very little pay. When the economy was at recession and jobs became scarce, the Irish were not offered any job opportunities in order to prevent them from competing with the Americans for jobs.

The Irish were subjected to poor living standards whereby they were put in crowded rooms that had poor ventilation and plumbing. Some of the rooms were vermin-infested and water contaminated, with sewage flowing on the floors. The landlords took advantage of the Irish and charged them higher rent rates than they had previously agreed on. Those unable to meet the costs had their luggage confiscated and thrown into the streets.

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The Act of Resistance

Due to racism and ethnicity, the Japanese continued to demand better rights (Ng 35). In order to improve their working standards, they allied with the Mexicans to form 1903 Oxnard strike whereby they demanded salary incensement. In addition, they demanded other better working conditions such as working for fewer hours, like other white settlers. The Japanese were also discouraged from immigrating to the United States. The American government imposed quotas whereby each nation was given a certain percentage of people who can migrate and settle in the United States. The quarter that the Japanese received was low. In addition, Japanese settlers in the United States were not allowed to travel back to their country and come back. Those who traveled to their country even for a short period were considered as new immigrants. Therefore, they were not allowed back. Tension emerged between these two nations due to ethnicity and racism. In order to cool down the tension over tough immigration policy, the Japanese and the United States government signed the 1907 Gentlemen’s Agreement.

On the other hand, civil war was a great break for the Irish immigrants because they provided the much needed backbreaking labor force in building railroads and running factories. They took advantage of the fact that there was no governmental constraint on American capitalism and formed first trade unions that conducted strikes for shorter working hours, higher wages and safer working conditions. Having undergone severe discrimination due to their religion from the Protestant Americans, the Irish Catholics realized their only way to get their views across was through the local ballot box (Miller 35).

The descendants of the Irish immigrants joined the democratic power in great numbers, organized themselves into political machines until they were eventually able to run for political offices in the county councils and later in the mayors’ offices.

Community Formation

Due to the hostility of the locals, both the Japanese and the Irish did not interact with the locals they were living together. The Japanese settled in CA and Hawaii in communities, where they established small settlements that later became big towns. On the other hand, the areas where the Irish settled also developed to become major towns.

Situation in the Japanese and Irish Second Generation

The United States government considered that every person who is born in the United States becomes an American citizen by birth. The second generation of the Irish and Japanese are children who were born to immigrants in the US. Unlike their parents who were discriminated, the second generations are given the equal rights, like any other United States citizen (Berger 7). The second generation representatives are mostly college and university graduates, and they can work in any sector of the economy and occupy even top positions such as Chief Executive Officers and Managers. Most of them live luxurious lifestyle whereby their living standards have improved. They have owned land and invested in different sectors in the economy. They speak fluent English, and most of them do not even understand their native language or traditions. Most of them have intermarried with other settlers and consider themselves as the United States citizens.

Conclusion

Both the Japanese and Irish immigrants in the United States faced racial discrimination. The Irish provided cheap labor in industries and homes. On the other hand, the Japanese were working on the sugar plantations as casual laborers. Both of them had low salaries and poor working condition. However, the situation is different with the second Japanese and Irish generation. The representatives of the second generation have education and white collar jobs. There living standards have also improved and thus are better than their parents.’

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