Is immigration to the United States a recent phenomenon?

Last year I have to admit that I was astonished when a student said that he didn’t feel a connection to the modern issues created by immigration to America.  His reasoning was that the immigration that had impacted his life directly had occurred at the beginning of the 20th Century and that modern immigration had little to do with his life now. I recognized that we were approaching immigration from two very different perspectives, and I had to stop and ask myself the following questions:  Had I forgotten that immigration to the United States is not a recent phenomenon?  Was I not covering enough information regarding the history of immigration to this country with my students? Was I creating a safe space for each of us to discuss our different relationships with immigration?

This blog is the result of the questions that I asked myself that afternoon. It is designed as a bilingual blog that covers the history of immigration to the United States by many different populations across time. It also focuses in on the impact that immigration has had in the last few decades on the one place that we all know about, the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area.

For the next seven weeks, students will be researching, conducting fieldwork, and writing about local immigrant communities as well as documenting the experiences of just a handful of immigrants that have made the DC Metro area their home.  I hope that you take the time to read the entries, to spark further dialogue by responding to what you read with comments and questions, and to enjoy what the students have produced.

For the first set of blogs, I asked students to research and write about the historical waves of immigration to the United States.  The information they gathered yielded a few surprises…

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