Challenges Faced by Immigrants in the United States Between 1880-1920s

Challenges Faced by Immigrants in the United States Between 1880-1920s

Student’s Name

Institution of Affiliation


Life as an immigrant in the United States from 1830 to 1920 was full of challenges, making it hard for the immigrants to survive. During the 1800s, life was not smooth in many parts of the world, and thus, they migrated to the United States, fleeing from crop failure, land and job shortages, rising taxes, and famine. By then, the United States was deemed a land of opportunities, and thus, immigrants believed that going to the United States would provide them with massive economic opportunities (Minkoff-Zern, 2019). However, not everyone sought economic opportunities as others came into the United States seeking personal freedom or relief from political and religious persecution.

The 1870s was characterized by hard economic times, and the European immigrants had to compete with the Americans for jobs traditionally reserved for the Chinese (Sánchez‐Alonso, 2019). As a result, racial hatred and suspicion arose due to economic competition. The feelings of hatred were coupled with anti-Chinese riots and pressure, demanding the exclusion of Chinese immigrants from the United States. As a result, in 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, ending the hope of Chinese immigrants into the United States for nearly a century (Burns & Yu, 2018).

Stereotyping and discrimination based on race were common issues among the immigrants when seeking job opportunities (Esses, 2021). Once immigrants settled, they had to look for work, but since the number of job seekers was huge, there were never enough jobs for the immigrants, which prompted potential employers to take advantage of the immigrants. For example, men were generally paid less than native workers, while women found it difficult to get a job. Even if the women got a job, they were paid lower wages than men. Besides wages, immigrants experienced social tensions that made their life in the United States more difficult (Hughes, 2022). They were often stereotyped and discriminated against, with many immigrants suffering from verbal and physical abuse because they were different.

The experiences of immigrants between the 1880-1920s can be considered hostile as they largely involved stereotyping and discrimination from government policies to employers seeking to deny immigrants job opportunities.


Burns, R., & Yu, L. S. (2018). The Chinese Exclusion Act. American Experience, PBS.

Esses, V. M. (2021). Prejudice and discrimination toward immigrants. Annual Review of Psychology, 72, 503-531.

Hughes, V. (2022). Tense times for young migrants: temporality, life-course and immigration status. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 48(1), 192-208.

Minkoff-Zern, L. A. (2019). The new American farmer: immigration, race, and the struggle for sustainability. MIT Press.

Sánchez‐Alonso, B. (2019). The age of mass migration in Latin America. The Economic History Review, 72(1), 3-31.