The United States is often known as the “country of refugees.” This is mostly due to Native Americans constituting a small percentage of the American population. Just 2% of Native Americans were counted in the 2014 census. American Indians made up 48% of this group (Prewitt, 7). The first people to come to the United States did so over ten thousand years ago. Only in the aftermath of the 15th century did Britons and French people come to the United States. In the 1790 census, 3.9 million inhabitants were counted, with 60 percent of them being British. One-nineteenth of them were Africans (Prewitt, 11). Currently, the number of immigrants in the United States stands at 43 million. Of these approximately 26 million are _x0093_second generations_x0094_ (Jiménez McGee, 473).
Second generations refer to the children of immigrant parents. These means currently one out of every five Americans is an immigrant. Although the United States constitution bans the use of racial measures in the census, throughout the history of the country immigrants have been counted by race. In fact, racial categories have been included in the United States census since 1790 (Prewitt, 12). However currently it is the only American Indians who are referred using their race in the census. Initially, one’s race was usually determined by the enumerators. The enumerators were tasked with observing an individual skin color, hair texture et al before determining one’s race. This was gotten rid of in 1960 when individuals were allowed to decide on their race. However, despite this measure, there was no notable change in the proportion of races in the United States to those enumerated in the previous census. The only difference that was noted was an increase in the percentage of the Americans Indians by 19% (Prewitt, 16). In 2000, there was revision in the census laws and individuals was allowed to choose more than one race.
In this paper, I will examine the history of using racial measurements to determine immigration into the United States. Over the years, this has been influenced by the prevailing political and social conditions at the time. Because Africans, Asians, and Hispanics have over the years made the most significant number of immigrants into the United States, this paper will look at the history of the racial measurements that have been used over the years to determine the population of immigrants belonging to these races.
The 2010 US census showed the total African population in the United States was approximately 3 million. Between 1965 (when the restrictive quota of immigration into the United States was abolished ) and 2007, there were about 0.9 African immigrants into the United States. This accounted for roughly 4 % (Prewitt, 15). However, black_x0092_s immigrants in the united states have been counted by their race since the 1790s.During this time there was the rapid growth of the trans-Atlantic trade which ensured that African slaves were transported from West Africa and Caribbean islands into the United States. The counting of the black people in the United States has taken significant change over the years. In the first census, they were counted as blacks, and they made up of 19 % of the entire population (Prewitt, 16). As a result of migration and intermarriage taking place in the United States; measures had to be put into place to distinguish African immigrants into the United States. This is whether they were of mixed race or pure race.
Before 1850 individuals were counted as whites and nonwhites, the nonwhites were the blacks. The 1850 census recorded blacks, mullatos, black slaves and mullato slaves. The mullato were a mixture of black and other races (Jiménez McGee, 475). This marked the first instance of separation of the black immigrants in the United States. Initially, all had been put in the collective brackets of non-whites. This was put in place to control their migration into the United States. In fact, in the 1820s shipmasters were instructed to count immigrants into the United States. They were further told to classify the immigrants into whites and non-whites (Jiménez McGee, 475). In the 1890, new racial categories were introduced into the measurements of black immigrants into the United States. These new categories gave rise to the quadroon and the octoroon. Quadroons were individuals who had a quarter of black blood. On the other hand, octoroons were individuals who had three-quarters of black blood. This was mainly due to the desire for political control. Where the federal government thought a threat would be posed by increasing number of particular race, these measures were put in place to control their overall representation in the African government.
In the 1930s, an immigrant of mixed black blood and white blood was classified as a Negro nonetheless (Jiménez McGee, 473). It was only until when the Obama administration with the help of the federal government that the term Negro was gotten rid off. The US national census body promised the scrapping of the word Negro in the future census. However, this attracted mixed reactions from different people. Some of the black immigrants and black populace residing in the United States thought the word _x0091_Negro_x0092_ referred to them more appropriately than the word African Americans or black. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that total immigrants who classified themselves as Negro in the United States dropped from 50000 in the 2000 census to 36000 in the 2010 census.
Most of the Asian population is thought to have migrated to the United States between 16th and 18th century (Jiménez McGee, 474). In 1860 the Asian immigrants in the United States stood at 30,000.In 2017 total number of Asian population in the United States was approximately 18 million. This translates to roughly one out of every eight individual in the United States is of Asian descent. The immigrants and the massive immigration into the United States that as catalyzed by the immigration act of 1965 got rid of the restrictive quota policy can attribute this to birth (Prewitt, 16). Most people of Asian descent are settled in Hawaii and Pacific Islander.
However, the mass migration of Asian individuals in the United States can be traced back to 1870 when many people from China migrated into the United States to work on the Central pacific railway road. All this time they were all collectively referred to as Chinese. It was only until 1910 that Asian immigrants into the United States were classified into Korean, Filipino and Asian Indians. This classification helped in sorting Asian immigrants into the United States. In the wake of the world war two, the Japanese category was introduced in classifying the Asian immigrants into the United States (Prewitt, 13). This was mainly due to the ongoing feud between the United States and Japan. Between 1920 and 1940, Asian Indians were all categorized as Hindus regardless of their religion.
Debates continue to exist whether American Indians immigrants in the United States are to be regarded as Asians. However, due to the fact that they are thought to have migrated from North Asia into the United States, in this paper, they will be regarded as Asians. It was not until 1860 that American Indians were included in the census. Before this time, they were not included in the case. This is mainly because maybe they had been found there or because they had continued in their native ways of life. However, over the years the Americans Indians have continued to be assimilated by whites (Jiménez McGee, 475). Currently, it is even hard to recognize the Americans Indians. This can be further explained by the fact that it was not until individuals were allowed to determine their own race that the population of American Indians included in the United States. However, from 2000s Asians immigrants and population in the United States were given the option to choose among six different groups
Due to the fact that the United States borders the Central America that a considerable proportion of the United States immigrants are of the Hispanic region. Perhaps due to the desire to control this massive number of immigrants into the United States is why the Trump administration proposed to construct a wall on the border with Mexico. It was not until the 1930s that Mexicans were regarded as a race in the United States. Over the years all migrants had been classified as Hispanics. In the 1970 Census, the united states stopped treating Hispanic as a race but rather a place of origin (Prewitt, 16).This was broken down into three categories; Another Hispanic, Latino and Spanish origin. Despite this, the number of Hispanic immigrants into the United States keeps on growing. In fact, in the 2010 census, over 60% of the United States migrants were of Hispanic origin.
In conclusion, we note that the United States is a nation made up of immigrants. However, due to intermarriages, it is increasingly becoming difficult to measure immigrants by race. This has led to some scholars to refer to the observation as getting America brown. This is because matters race and ethnicity are regarded with less significance unlike before.
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Prewitt, Kenneth. “Racial classification in America: where do we go from here?.” Daedalus 134.1 (2005): 5-17.
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