The history of US immigration is marked by waves and troughs. Before the 1820s, the first wave of immigrants consisted of people from Europe and the Mediterranean basin. After the Civil War, a second wave of immigrants dominated by Irish and German Catholics began. This wave challenged the Protestant church’s dominance and brought about a backlash against Catholics. Then, in the 1860s, the Civil War ended the immigration boom and the nation went through a long period of decline.
The current immigration system is based on employment and the labor market. The United States granted legal permanent residency to seven hundred thousand people in fiscal year 2020, down from one million in the previous year. Two-thirds of these legal permanent residents were admitted on the basis of family reunification. Twenty-one percent were admitted based on employment-based preferences, while four percent were admitted based on diversity. As of late-2021, there were approximately four million immigrants on the State Department’s list waiting for an immigrant visa.
Since the early 1600s, US immigration has been a history of migration. Early immigrants included Spanish and British populations in Florida and New England, as well as Swedes in Delaware. Many Pilgrims and Puritans sought religious freedom and economic opportunity, while hundreds of thousands of Africans were brought to the country against their will. US immigration history has a complex history. With the current climate, understanding the past is crucial in guiding the future.