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Below are suggested answers for the questions on the student sheet Immigration Close Up.
Chinese Immigrants and the Construction of the Transcontinental Railroad
- Why did the Central Pacific Railroad decide to use Chinese immigrants as laborers?
They thought that the Chinese could do good work because they built the Great Wall of China and invented gunpowder.
- Why had the Chinese immigrated to America?
They immigrated to America because they faced civil turmoil and poverty at home.
- What kind of social ties did they form and work did they do in America?
They established support networks, based on family ties and place of origin, and found work in agriculture, mines, domestic service, and railroad construction.
- What kind of workers were the Chinese immigrants?
On the whole, they were hardworking, quiet, reliable, and economical.
- How were the Chinese treated by the railroad and by society in general?
They received less money than American workers and no food or shelter on the railroad. They were discriminated against, targets of racial violence, subject to special taxes, and denied basic social rights.
Irish American Solidarity
- How did Irish Catholic immigrants differ from other immigrant groups in America?
They banded together and showed extreme solidarity.
- What reaction from Americans caused them to act this way?
Strong religious discrimination by the largely Protestant society caused them to act this way.
- How were these conflicts reflected in politics?
Anti-Irish Catholic sentiment could be seen in the press. The immigrants were depicted as very loyal to the Pope and hostile toward democracy.
- How did the legislatures of Michigan and Nebraska react to the Catholic immigrants during the Progressive Era?
They debated constitutional amendments banning parochial schools.
- How did the reaction to Irish Catholic immigrants change over time?
Anti-Catholic sentiment continued until the visit of the Pope to America in 1986 ushered in an era of greater religious tolerance.
- What factors influenced many Italians to immigrate to America?
Poverty, overpopulation, and natural disasters influenced many Italians to immigrate to America.
- How did the situation in Italy help create a lack of ethnic cohesiveness among those who eventually immigrated to America?
Southern Italians had few natural resources or political power and were dependent on and resentful of the North. Their ties were to their families and villages, rather than to the country as a whole.
- What kind of work did many Italian immigrants do?
Many Italian men did manual labor and Italian women did piecework they could do at home.
- Why didn’t Italian immigrants have much political impact?
The lack of ethnic cohesiveness weakened their power base.
- Why were many Italian immigrants known as “birds of passage”?
They were essentially migrant workers who never intended to settle in America, but only worked there seasonally or to earn enough money to go back home.
Viva La Raza
- In the 1960s, how did the economic situation of Hispanics compare with that of non-Hispanics?
Hispanics earned only 62% of the income and had twice the rate of unemployment.
- What social factors prevented Hispanics from getting higher paying, white-collar jobs?
The lack of educational opportunities and political under-representation worked against Hispanics.
- What political response did Mexican Americans have to this situation?
The militant ethnic activism of the Chicano movement was one response.
- What types of social and political actions resulted?
Some results were the organization of workers and strikes, establishment of The Crusade for Justice to provide social, educational, and health-care services, and the formation of La Raza Unida political parties.
- Which social group became active in the fight for the rights of Chicanos in the late 1960s and what actions did they take?
Mexican-American students organized to register voters, organize farmworkers, and regain stolen lands.
This teacher sheet is a part of the Immigration