American Immigration: Past, Present, and Future

Edward O’Donnell – Holy Cross College

The history of immigration to the United States stretches over 400 years, beginning with the first European settlements in the New World around 1600. Around this time, British and other Europeans settled primarily on the east coast, seeking freedoms previously unavailable in Europe. In 1619, the importation of African slaves began – which though technically immigration, certainly was not voluntary. Emigration from other countries (especially European states) of populations to the US has since come in successive waves, and attitudes towards these new immigrants have cycled between favorable and hostile. While strict numerical counting of immigrants ended in 1965, at various times, immigration rules have become more or less restrictive based upon the presidential administration. The current Administration’s attitude towards immigration has veered back to a “hard line” approach but it is hardly the first to take such a perspective. Professor Ed O’Donnell will discuss this and much more in this timely course.