Who is an immigrant?

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The buzzword nowadays is “immigrants” and in hardly any context it is used in a positive way.Here is the thing though, who is an immigrant?

This is just a micro snapshot in history. It is basically a background to me family well at least from my Mother’s side.

The picture at the start of the blog is a picture of the marriage certificate of my maternal grandparents. They got married on December 28,1915.

The groom Durk Jager, the bride Tetje Hoekstra. They lived and were married in a small village in the Friesland, inthe Northwest of the Netherlands. The village Harkema-opeinde was part of the wider municipality of Achtkarspelen.

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It was a rural place and there was not much work to be got. In Limburg, in the Southeast of the Netherlands, there was plenty  of work though. This was because of the ‘black gold’, coal . In the early part of the 20th century.Between 1906 and 1926 coal mines were opened in the most southern province bringing with it job opportunities, not just only in the coal industry but also in the wider economy.

The biggest and the last one to be opened was States mine Maurits in Geleen, which opened in 1926.

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That was the call for my grand parents to pack up things and uproot the family for a journey southward to Geleen. Even though the Netherlands is just a small country, in the 1920s a journey like that was the equivalent of emigrating to the US or Canada nowadays.

I used the term emigrating because that is what they were doing. The place they were going to was alien to them. Coming from Friesland they had their own language, a different culture and also a different religion,Friesland being a predominantly Protestant province where Limburg was a predominantly Catholic province. Even the landscape was different.

The new immigrants arrived in Limburg and had to adapt to a new way of life.My Grandparents weren’t the only ones to leave Friesland, because of the lack of work in Friesland a great number of Frisians chanced their luck in the hilly area of the Southern part of Limburg.

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I am an immigrant too, because I left that same hilly area of southern Limburg for the emerald isle, Ireland.

So many people have immigrated over the centuries, when you go back far enough in history you will discover that most of us come from an immigrant background.

So next time someone talks in a disparaging manner about immigrants , just remember they maybe talking about you or your family.

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Immigration Act of 1917-USA

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The Immigration Act of 1917 (also known as the Literacy Act and less often as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act) was the most sweeping immigration act the United States had passed until that time. It was the first bill aimed at restricting, as opposed to regulating, immigrants and marked a turn toward nativism. The law imposed literacy tests on immigrants, created new categories of inadmissible persons and barred immigration from the Asia-Pacific Zone. It governed immigration policy until amended by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 also known as the McCarran–Walter Act.

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On February 5, 1917, the United States Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1917 with an overwhelming majority, overriding President Woodrow Wilson’s December 14, 1916, veto.

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This act added to and consolidated the list of undesirables banned from entering the country, including: “alcoholics”, “anarchists”, “contract laborers”, “criminals and convicts”, “epileptics”, “feebleminded persons”, “idiots”, “illiterates”, “imbeciles”, “insane persons”, “paupers”, “persons afflicted with contagious disease”, “persons being mentally or physically defective”, “persons with constitutional psychopathic inferiority”, “political radicals”, “polygamists”, “prostitutes” and “vagrants”.

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For the first time, an immigration law of the U.S. impacted European immigration with the provision barring all immigrants over the age of sixteen who were illiterate. Literacy was defined by being able to read 30-40 words of their own language from an ordinary text.

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The Act reaffirmed the ban on contracted labor, but made a provision for temporary labor, which allowed laborers to obtain temporary permits, because they were inadmissible as immigrants. The waiver program, enabled continued recruitment of Mexican agricultural and railroad workers.Legal interpretation on the terms “mentally defective” and “persons with constitutional psychopathic inferiority” effectively included a ban on homosexual immigrants who admitted their orientation.One section of the law designated an “Asiatic Barred Zone”, from which people could not immigrate, and included much of Asia and the Pacific Islands. The zone was described on longitudinal and latitudinal lines, excluding immigrants from Afghanistan, the Arabian Peninsula, Asiatic Russia, India, Malaysia, Myanmar(Burma), and the Polynesian Islands. Neither Japan nor the Philippines were included in the banned zone. The law also increased the head tax to $8 per person and eliminated the exclusion of paying the head tax from Mexican workers.

Almost immediately, the provisions of the law were challenged by Southwestern businesses. US entry into World War I, a few months after the law’s passage, prompted a waiver of the Act’s provisions on Mexican agricultural workers. It was soon extended to include Mexicans working in the mining and railroad industries and the exemptions continued through 1921. The Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943. The Luce-Celler Act of 1946 ended discrimination against Asian Indians and Filipinos, who were accorded the right to naturalization, and allowed a quota of 100 immigrants per year. The Immigration Act of 1917 was later altered formally by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, known as the McCarran-Walter Act. It extended the privilege of naturalization to Japanese, Koreans, and other Asians.The McCarran-Walter Act revised all previous laws and regulations regarding immigration, naturalization, and nationality, and collected into one comprehensive statute.Legislation barring homosexuals as immigrants remained part of the immigration code until passage of the Immigration Act of 1990.