|Date ||Migration Events and Trends |
| ||Age of Exploration: European sailors migrate to the New World along with soldiers and missionaries. Empire building follows. European colonists begin settling in the Americas. Slave trade begins transporting African populations to Europe, the Americas, and Caribbean. |
| ||Exploration continues; colonialism expands in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Colonists are government officials, dissidents, soldiers and those fleeing religious persecution and/or seeking a new life. Prisoners form penal colonies in Australia. |
British loyalists relocate to Canada after US independence.
By 1770, there are 2.5 million slaves in the Americas, producing up to one-third of the total value of European commerce.
| ||Colonialism continues as European powers further divide Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. |
The slave trade ends after transporting up to 15 million Africans to the Americas and Europe.
Southern and Eastern Europeans provide indentured labor to Western Europe and North America.
Accelerated immigration to the United States occurs between 1861 and 1920, largely driven by post-Civil War industrialization. Up to 30 million immigrants arrive in America; exclusion laws discriminate against Asians.
In 1892 Ellis Island opens. Twelve million immigrants will pass through this processing center in NY Harbor through the 1950s.
Early 1900 to WWI [+]
| ||Many migrants return to Europe to serve in the military or war industries. |
The Great Migration of African Americans from the American South to Northern states occurs.
European countries recruit labor from Africa and Southeast Asia.
Discrimination and persecution begin to drive Jews to Palestine.
Russian Revolution creates refugee populations.
Inter-War Period: 1919-1940s [+]
| ||The world experiences decreased migration, mostly due to worldwide depression and economic stagnation. |
Anti-immigrant sentiment and nativism is on the rise in the US and many European countries, largely related to economic hardship and competition for jobs.
| ||Germany recruits and forcibly transports labor to work in massive war mobilization effort. |
Jewish, Slavic and other minorities are persecuted and deported from Germany. Many attempt to escape detainment and relocation by Nazi officials by fleeing the country and occupied territories. Millions are transported to concentration camps internally and in Poland for execution.
Bracero program brings millions of provisional immigrants to the US from Mexico. Many of these are deported as “wetbacks” in later decades.
Post WWII [+]
| ||Twenty million people are on the move, dislocated by the war. This figure includes refugees and those returning from exile and displacement, as well as those finding their place on either side of the Iron Curtain. |
European countries actively recruiting labor to rebuild industrial economies institute guest worker programs; many migrants resettle permanently.
Colonialism ends. Colonial officials return to Europe along with many former subjects who are granted citizenship in European countries.
Exiles who had left former colonies years earlier return to Africa, Asia, and elsewhere upon the granting of independence and creation of new nations.
Mass migration follows the creation of the new Jewish state of Israel – many primarily European Jews move to the former British state of Palestine; many Palestinians relocate and/or become refugees. More displacement and forced migration occurs after the first Arab-Israeli war.
The largest migration of the century occurs in South Asia as the independent Muslim state of Pakistan and Hindu state of India are created from the British Indian colony.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees is formed, followed by what ultimately becomes the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
| ||Wars for independence in former colonies create displacement and refugees in Africa and South America. |
The Six-Day War leads to occupation of more Arab territory by Israel, creating another wave of displacement and refugee populations.
US Immigration Act in 1965 is enacted as part of the Civil Rights Era. The new law eliminates discrimination against immigrants of specific national origins and paves the way for accelerated migration from Asian countries and Mexico. Family reunification is established as a priority in the new quota system, facilitating chain migration by populations from developing nations. Special quotas are established for refugees.
Migration out of USSR and Warsaw Pact countries is restricted by Communist governments.
| ||Economic decline and restructuring in Europe and North America changes the face of international migration. Southern European countries are transformed from emigrant to immigrant nations. Newly Industrialized Countries (NICs) in Asia and elsewhere attract migrants as well. Immigrants begin to settle in the interior of classic recipient countries such as the US, Canada, and Australia. |
There is an influx of Southeast Asian refugees to the US following wars in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Labor recruitment in North America and Europe wanes; immigration restrictions are enacted more widely.
| ||The war in Afghanistan creates a massive flow of migrants and refugees, primarily to Iran and Pakistan. |
1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act grants amnesty to millions of illegal foreign-born residents, but also introduces fines and sanctions on employers hiring undocumented workers.
| ||The Iron Curtain falls, creating massive East to Central and Central to Western migration in Europe. |
The USSR is dissolved, creating 15 independent republics. Twenty-five million ethnic Russians living outside the new Russian Federation are classified as international migrants. There is a large influx of Russian Jews to Israel and Russian exiles to the West.
| || Post-Soviet migration in Europe and Central Asia continues. |
New waves of refugees are created by the Balkan wars and the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Ethnic minorities migrate to new states.
The First Gulf War creates refugees among both Iraqi citizens and migrant workers from other Middle Eastern countries living in Iraq and Kuwait.
The level of international refugee populations worldwide reaches its peak of 18.2 million. Concern about increasing waves of asylum seekers causes European countries to enact restrictions that come to be known as Fortress Europe. Schengen Agreement further restricts immigration to core EU states while facilitating movement among member nations.
The majority of immigrants to the US now hail from Mexico, China, Vietnam, Philippines and India. Immigrants increasingly push beyond classic “gateway” states in the US (Texas, Florida, California, New Jersey, Illinois) to form communities in interior regions.
The 1990 US Immigration Act, the 1994 Operation Gatekeeper, and the 1996 US Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act are passed; all seek to further restrict immigration by penalizing migrants who enter illegally and companies that employ them. Restrictions on welfare benefits for non-citizens are enacted in 1997, then are mostly repealed.
NAFTA agreement seeks to address root causes of Mexican economic migration to US; it fails to reduce illegal immigration.
Prop 187 is approved by voters in California; it limits benefits such as public education and health care to illegal immigrants and their foreign-born children.
Two million Hutu soldiers and civilians flee Rwanda following the Hutu-perpetrated genocide on Tutsi populations in the country. The largest group becomes concentrated in Eastern Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), destabilizing the region and leading to a series of wars that extend into the present day.
High levels of internal migration occur in China from rural communities to coastal industrial cities.
Migrants from Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East increasingly make up the majority of the work force in oil-producing states of the Gulf region.
| || |
North African countries receive an influx of immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa who use the Maghreb countries as transit nations or settle there. South Africa continues to attract migrant mine labor.
Turkey’s bid for EU membership stalls over concerns about its position as a gateway for migrants from Arab/Islamic countries.
2000 elections of George W. Bush in US and Vincente Fox in Mexico open opportunity for intergovernmental cooperation on illegal immigration to US. High level talks are initiated and are seen as groundbreaking.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 close this window and result in larger immigration restrictions under the Department of Homeland Security. Refugees and asylum seekers, particularly from Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries, encounter heightened scrutiny. The PATRIOT Act allows for detention of those awaiting the award of official status.
The US-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan creates another Afghan refugee crisis, again borne mainly by Iran and Pakistan.
The concept of environmental refugees gains heightened awareness following the massive displacement of largely poor populations by the Asian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, flooding and droughts throughout the world and earthquakes in Pakistan and China.
Hotly debated Immigration Reform legislation dies in the US Congress in 2007. New laws would have affected border control as well as amnesty programs for illegal immigrants.
Refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) face extreme hardship in the wake of wars in Darfur and Eastern Congo, as well as political violence in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
A series of high profile raids of companies and factories employing illegal immigrants in the US results in employer sanctions and deportations in 2008.
The global recession threatens the livelihood of people around the world and is expected to intensify the challenges facing migrants, refugees and naturalized minorities in developing and developed countries alike.
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