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The problems of immigration and assimilation in a multicultural society

Hausarbeit 2005 12 Seiten


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Historical Part Several waves of immigration to the USA

3. New York as an example of a multicultural society

4. The Hispanic Americans As the best example of assimilation problems
4.1 Facts of immigration and origin
4.2 Problems of assimilation

5. Illegal immigration

6. Conclusion

I. Introduction:

The USA is sometimes called “land of the immigrants” or “the promised land”. In early times immagrants from different origins and nationalities immigrated to the USA. That’s why the USA developed to a multicultural society. There is the great idea of all people from different nations living together. America is designates as a “melting pot”.

This term tries to discribe the assimilation of immigrants into American life. Its literal meaning is a chemical one: several different elements melted together to form a new product. The idea was that immigrants would fuse together with the “old” Americans, giving up their old lifestyles and cultures to form one American nation. The motto “ e pluribus unum” which still appears on American coins today, has been used since 1782, reflecting how even the early Americans saw their conuntry.

But does a mutlicultural society system like this really work? That’s the main point I will try to work out in my research paper. To get through this topic it needs to be defined very clearly what immigrations means in general and to describe briefly the immigration process from the early times till nowadays. This should be explained with some facts and figures to build the foundation of the following analysis. I will also show the reasons and problems of illegal immigration which is an important topic in the American society. That brings us to the next point the Hispanic Americans, which representativ for American immigrants. I will use The Hispanic Americans as an example to mark the assimilation problem of immigrants in the USA. Furthermore you can use this group of immigrants to explain the multicultural situation in the USA today. I will round off my work with the part of the conclusion and I will try to give an answer to the question asked in the beginnig of the work.

2. Historical Part Several waves of immigration to the USA

The first wave was from 1680- 1776: colonial immigration

Table of immigration:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

During the first wave people immigrated to the USA because they had tried to escape from religious persecution and bad economic conditions. They hoped to find economic gain and religious freedom.1

At that time is estimated that the largest groups were the British and the Scots-Irish. The largest non- English speeking group were the Germans. The demography of the colonies was completely transformed by this wave of immigration. In 1776 the English became a majority (52%) and the in large parts of the southern colonies the African- American slaves were a mojority by its own. In the costal towns lived the Non- English immigrants and the great part of the Native- American cultures had been forced beyond the Appalachians or into the country.2

The second wave was from 1820-1900: the old immigrants

There were also a lot of Irish, Italians, British, Austrians, Scandinavians, Russians and Chinese (during the gold rush) who immigrated to the Unites States. The reasons in that time were that the Industrial Revolution in Europe led to wide-ranging social an economic changes, and that many agricultural workers had lost their livelihoods and wanted to make a new start. Another reason for this wave of immigration was the political instability in some parts of Europe. Furthermore they wanted to prospect for gold during the first Gold Rush in 1849 in California.3


1 (15.08.05)

2 Mauk, David & Oakland, John: American Civilization. An introduction.

3 Vgl. Nowotny, Sarah: AbiWissen kompakt Englisch. Landeskunde. Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Verlag GmbH. 2002. page 50ff


ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
469 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Universität Mannheim – Amerikanistik
2006 (November)



Titel: The problems of immigration and assimilation in a multicultural society