Current Immigration, Past Legislation, and the Second Generation

The immigration seen in New Jersey today is different from that of the “old” and “new” periods.  More people of different nationalities can enter the states despite facing many restrictions in the past.

Immigration Today: Most immigrants today come from Latin American countries as well as Asian nations with few coming from Europe.  Approximately 6% of new immigrants choose New Jersey despite New Jersey being only 3% of the country’s population (^1).  New Jersey remains an immigration state.  There is another misconception that there is a large percentage of Mexican immigrants – less than 3% of Hispanics in New Jersey are Mexican.  Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Colombians, and Dominicans make up the largest Hispanic groups in the state, typically concentrated in the Cape May, Gloucester, Salem, and Warren counties (^2).  They migrated for political and social freedom, and they wanted opportunities to better their financial situations.  Despite having educations, it is difficult to find work in their skillset.  Many Colombians and Dominicans often return to their home nations.  There is also a large percentage of West Indians (Jamaicans and Haitians) in New Jersey mostly settled in Essex and Passaic counties (^3).  They flee their countries for freedom; however, Haitians have the most difficult time establishing themselves in the state since they face unemployment and oftentimes limited education.

On the other hand, Asians typically settle on the Pacific coast, New York, and New Jersey (^4).  They usually come to the states well-educated, with college experience, and often with graduate-school education.  Asian immigrants typically have more education than a native American.  They usually come to this country speaking English, which is a huge advantage, and they also work at more prestigious jobs.  Asian immigrants typically settle in Bergen, Middlesex, and Morris counties (^5).

Immigration Legislation: The video above quickly and efficiently informs of history’s treatment of immigrants (^6).  Different presidents often held polar opposite views of immigration.  Congress passed legislation in the 1920s and based it on racist beliefs of certain groups.  In 1965, Congress rewrote legislation after receiving backlash after the second World War for being prejudice.  In the new law, there was a yearly quota of 290,000 immigrants.  170,000 immigrants could come from the Eastern hemisphere, and 120,000 could come from the Western hemisphere.  The maximum number from any country permitted to migrate was 20,000 people.  The law did, however, benefit those who possessed existing relatives in the states.  Now, restrictions on Middle Eastern nations ban immigration, such as with President Donald Trump’s 2017 Executive Orders, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry in the United States.  As a result, five majorly Muslim nations, North Korea, and Venezuela face restrictions, preventing them from moving to the U.S.

Second generation immigrants are often stuck between the past struggles of their parents and the current circumstances of modern-day (Clayton Kauzlaric,

The Second Generation: The second generation of immigrants are those born in America to immigrant parents.  They are in a position between what they know from their parents and what they get to experience in what is allegedly a free and promised land.  I fall into this category: what I know about my culture is from my parents.  My traditions, beliefs, my personality, and outlooks reflect the stories they told me as I grew up.  My life living in New Jersey is significantly different to their’s: I did not experience the sacrifice that they did.  Those of the second generation typically have more opportunities than their parents.  Oftentimes, they are more highly educated than their parents because they had the opportunities to attend higher education, which provides an advantage to looking for employment.


Bibliography Editors. “U.S. Immigration Timeline.” A&E Television Networks, December 21, 2018.
(^6) KCETOnline. Immigration 101: History Of Immigration., 2018
(^1, ^2, ^3, ^4, and ^5) Shaw, Douglas V. “Immigration and Ethnicity in New Jersey History.” New Jersey State Library. New Jersey Historical Commission, 1994.