Journey to America

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Often those who arrived first would send a prepaid ticket back home. It is believed that in between 25 and 50 percent of all immigrants arriving in America possessed prepaid tickets. In , between 40 and 65 percent came either on prepaid tickets, or with money sent to them from the United States.

After , in addition to a ticket, however, an immigrant had to secure a passport from local officials, and a US visa from either American consular office or from the local consul at the port. For many, simply getting to the port was the first major journey of their lives. Sometimes travelers would have to wait days, weeks and even months at the port, either for their paperwork to be completed or for their ship to arrive.

Steamship lines were held accountable for medical examinations of the immigrants before departing the port.

Most seaport medical examinations were just too rapid to disclose any but the most obvious diseases. Finally, the immigrants were led down the gangplank to first-class, second-class, or steerage. Steerage passengers walked past the tiny deck space, squeezed past the machinery, and were directed down stairways into the enclosed lower decks. They were now in their prison for the rest of their ocean journey.

Step Two - On Board Three types of accommodations on the ships brought immigrants to America: first class, second class, and steerage. Steerage was enormously profitable for steamship companies.

For most, the experience of steerage was a nightmare. The conditions were crowded, dark, unsanitary, and so foul smelling, that they were the single most important cause of America's early immigration laws. Unfortunately, the laws were almost impossible to enforce. In spite of the miserable conditions, they had faith in the future. To pass the time they would play cards, sing, dance, and talk. Rumors about life in America, combined with stories about rejections and deportations at Ellis Island, circulated endlessly.

They rehearsed answering the immigration inspectors' questions, and hours were spent learning the new language. By the time the trip approached its long-awaited end, most immigrants were physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. Yet, even with the shores of a New World looming before their eyes, their journey was not at an end.

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The quarantine examination was conducted aboard ship and reserved for first - or second-class cabin passengers. Very few cabin-class passengers were marked to be sent to Ellis Island for more complete examinations. In , of , cabin passengers arriving in New York, only 3, had to pass through Ellis Island for additional medical checks.

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During the same year, , steerage passengers were examined at the island. After the visiting medical inspectors climbed down ladders to their waiting cutter, the ship finally moved north through the Narrows leading to Upper New York Bay and into the harbor. Most recent immigration from India constitutes what the authors of The Other One Percent call The IT Generation , a group that benefit greatly from the high demand of the information technology sector or other science and technology STEM fields. This group migrated in much higher numbers—at five times the rate of the Early Movers and twice the rate of The Families [ 8 ], p.

Third, the US immigration system selected within this doubly selected group when it favored skills, especially skills in engineering and technology, as the basis for awarding employment and students. Ultimately, the majority of Asian Indians who came to the United States after , were triple selected, which benefitted both the immigrants who were trying to improve their lot in life and the United States who needed their technical expertise.

This talent pool was comprised almost wholly of men from elite castes and classes, who were only too eager to escape from a country that could not offer them enough opportunity to apply their skills. All told, the demands of the US labor market were able to tap into a ready supply of high technical and skilled candidates. Another factor contributing greatly to mass migration of highly skilled, educated, and talented Indians to America was distance.

Distance kept Indians with low human capital from entering the United States illegally in very large numbers in contrast to illegal immigrants from proximate locations like Mexico and Central America. Another contributing factor to the selection of Indians and their success in America is their higher proclivity to live in married-couple households, more than any other major immigrant group. Even in cases were kinship or linguistic affiliation was lacking, doctors and engineers of Indian descent still managed to organize and prosper by creating bridging social networks and capital [ 3 ], p.

The rapid growth of Indian immigrant communities to the United States would have remained a hard-to-access phenomenon had it not been for the US census, which counted Asian as a separate group for the very first time [ 9 ], p. About one-third were located in the northeast, and the remaining two-thirds were situated in the South, West, and Midwest [ 4 ].

My Journey to America | I Learn America

The demographic characteristics of Indians in the census held that this immigrant group was vibrant, young They were found to have taken up employment in the fields of science, medicine, engineering, commerce, and real estate prospectively [ 4 ]. Compare these figures to their skilled relatives who came in the 80s, who largely moved into nonprofessional fields such retail-trade, food, and service industries [ 4 ].

On the heels of the more affluent and skilled Indian immigrants came newer arrivals who possessed fewer technical and speaking skills. These more recent immigrants, living for the most part on the fringes of society, lacked English skills, basic job skills, and needed remedial education. This group was largely as unsuccessful as other Indian immigrant groups which in turn led to economic stratification with in the Indian American community [ 4 ]. Indians who immigrated to America came from every state in India, each with own distinct language and cultural heritage.

They also belong to many religious faiths including Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. These four metro areas were home to one-third of Indians in the United States [ 2 ], p. The absence of homogeneity among Asian Indians is reflected in their emigration and settlement patterns not only in the United States but also the world. All told, the heterogeneity of Asian Indian culture and customs has prevented the emergence of pigeonholed Indian settlements and Indian towns in the United States [ 1 ], p.

Unlike their pre immigrant Asian Indian predecessors who were largely agricultural and unskilled laborers, post Asian Indian immigrants enjoy a common bond related to their backgrounds in education and social-economic classes. The fact that they came from mercantile and professional classes, their status of being middle-class secured afforded them to some degree homogeneity existence professionally, while living heterogeneously.

While these two groups do not necessarily enjoy the same degree of socio-economic status or success, they have both sought the vestiges of the American dream as most immigrants do coming to America: a nice home, a good job, excellent schools, and safe neighborhoods. Asian Indians also cherished being a country that celebrated democratic and pluralistic ways, mores, and values. They buy ethnic goods and services needed to maintain their desired lifestyle and insulate their ethnic lifestyles within their homes and communities, away from the scrutiny of the larger society.

This has in turn allowed many Asian Indian immigrants and their descendants to transmit Indian culture within their primary groups such as family, cliques of close friends, and voluntary organizations. Another way that Asian Indian immigrants to America have maintained their cultural identity is by preserving ties to their extended families in India.

This is accomplished through financial contributions and almost yearly visits.

Journey to America: South Asian Diaspora Migration to the United States (1965–2015)

This effort serves as a duality of sorts, maintaining ties to their homeland, while also embracing America as their new homeland. The financial contributions that are made by these immigrants while although considered merger by some make a great difference in the economic status and well-being of their families back home in India. Another important facet of keeping ties to their homeland is networking. The most powerful tool is the spread of information through word of mouth.

Asia Indians, even though scattered all over the United States and quite heterogeneous in their background, keep close contact with relatives and friends by oral and written discourse by sharing common interests. This effort is promoted by a plethora of news outlets as well as modern technology.

There exist several Asian Indian newspapers India Abroad , glossy monthly magazines with political, cultural, religious, and business features. In addition to having access to Old World home channels along with American ones, they also have access to Bombay and Bollywood movies and other cultural programs. Notwithstanding the linguistic, cultural, religious, and ethnic heterogeneity among first and second generation Asian Indian immigrants since , the vast majority of them share come common principles and perspectives. These include valuing immigration to America as an economic gain, saving their earnings for education and retirement, and overcoming discrimination and prejudice by tolerance and resolve instead of direct confrontation.

More importantly, Asian Indians celebrate, respect, and admire their economic relative economic success and high-standing professional talents parochial. Within the context of Asian Indian immigrants who have come to America in recent decades, their still resides some vestiges of the well-established gender roles and expectations.

This is especially true when recent immigrants elect to bring older family members from India to America. Herein lays, the culprit for tensions within the family when it comes to joint and extended family obligations, which tended to be conservative, backed by female-subordination. Whereas in India, there is a strict code of conduct for men and women, in America, both men and women have undergone a metamorphous of sorts. For example, Indian women had found life in America much easier with regard to material comforts and conveniences.

Not to mention better opportunities to work outside the home and make financial contributions to not only to the family, but toward their own development as well. All told, this new freedom and the opportunity to maximize economic security and family income with dignity is transcends economic, political, and cultural boundaries. The success of Asian Indians in migrating and assimilating to America culture while maintain cultural and ethnic ties is keeping with the tradition of immigrates making the best out of their American experience.

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From their collective experiences abet with separating from their homeland, they continue to find ways to embrace the best that America has to offer, while maintain their cultural roots and identities as Asian Indians. Moreover, they have integrated themselves into a pluralistic society, which values competitiveness, achievement orientation, equalitarianism, and objective individualism in order to achieve success and contribute effectively into a larger society.

The emigrants of the Indian diaspora who ventured from India to America and other localities throughout the world represent an ongoing phenomenon heading in a pluralistic direction. The success of the Indian diaspora is one aspect of a complex story being moved by economic, political, and social forces largely driven by technology transfers, labor needs, and a collection of immigrants seeking a better life in foreign lands.

These include becoming successful political leaders, thinkers, historians, artists, writers, activists, musicians, and lawyers. To better understand and appreciate the successes and the potentials of future endeavors, it serves well to seek answers to the following questions: what are the motivational origins of the Indian diaspora? What efforts cultivated this success? To what degree did they meet resistance and how did they handle it?

More importantly, what connections do these successful immigrants have to their former homelands, and to what extent is their success in America helping their homeland? The story of American history is in every respect the story of immigration. The Indian diaspora that traveled to the United States between and represents another success story in the long line of successful immigration by not only Europeans, but also peoples of Asian and African descent.

What makes this effort unique is not why they came, but how they came: highly educated, technically skilled, and endowed with a will to succeed making them likely candidates to enter the middle and upper classes in a relatively short period of time. Licensee IntechOpen. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3. Help us write another book on this subject and reach those readers.


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We are IntechOpen, the world's leading publisher of Open Access books. Built by scientists, for scientists. Our readership spans scientists, professors, researchers, librarians, and students, as well as business professionals. Downloaded: Abstract This chapter examines the immigration of South Asian and Indian populations to the United States between and Keywords assimilation diaspora immigration xenophobia sojourners US supreme court H-1B visa.


Introduction In recent years, the diversity within the Asian-American population and their varied, often contrasting, patterns of immigration and experiences have been recognized and underscored in American multi-cultural studies. In the beginning The earliest recorded Indian emigrant to the United States was from Madras, who traveled to Massachusetts in Anti-Asian sentiment With the rise of hostilities toward Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Jews who had immigrated to America from eastern and southern Europe, provoking strong xenophobic and nativist hostilities, South Asians also attracted this hostility as well.

Post immigration By far, the biggest boom to increasing Asian Indian migration to the United States was the passage of the US Immigration and Nationality Act of , which scrapped the old immigration system completely. Conclusion The emigrants of the Indian diaspora who ventured from India to America and other localities throughout the world represent an ongoing phenomenon heading in a pluralistic direction. Notes In there were less than Asian Indians living in America. The first anti-immigration law was passed in , The Chinese Exclusion Act.

While many Asian Indians were deported or left voluntarily, others immigrated to the United States illegally through Mexico. Bowing to pressures from west coast laborers who contested unlimited immigration from Asia was hurting their employment and economic opportunities, the US Congress passed exclusion laws in and which brought Indian immigration to a standstill. It was not until that Asian quotas were relaxed allowing over Indians to enter the US between and While major emphasis was placed in encouraging immigrants to come to America who had backgrounds and skills in high technology related to waging the Cold War, the need for more health care professionals to meet the demands of President Lyndon B.

These demands included staffing programs such as Medicaid and Medicare with additional doctors nurses. The authors of The Other One Percent argue that Indian immigrants enjoyed many suitable characteristics that allowed them to be not only allowed to leave India but also suitable for admission to the United States. These characteristics include age, gender, education, religion, and language. They also note that the Indians also possessed other notable and non-observable traits as well such as ambition, grit, and luck.