Discrimination Among Immigrants

“Following the Civil War, immigration to the United States increased exponentially as immigrants looked for a new life, to escape from oppressive governments, adventure, and religious freedom.” (Lofgren) Many of the immigrants that were coming to the U.S. were extremely poor. Some only have a little over a few dollars. It was not uncommon for immigrants coming to the United States not knowing anyone but their families. Once they arrived, starting their new lives with little money and congested neighborhoods, many of them faced discrimination. For instance, the Irish had a difficult time finding jobs, the Chinese were banned from coming to the United States after the passing of the “Chinese Exclusion Act”, and the Chinese immigrants that already resided in the U.S. weren’t allowed to become American citizens. “Discrimination has, unfortunately, become a common theme throughout American History as groups that are different from the majority are treated very badly. Discrimination started against the Native Americans and African Americans way back at the beginning of American History. Even today, recent immigrants to the United States still face discrimination.” (Lofgren)

An immigrant can be described as a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country. Throughout the history of the United States immigrants have faced many disadvantages. They face many of these in the workplace. Some of these include: reduced pay, language barriers, legal issues, employee resistance, transportation, cultural differences, prejudice and racism, isolation, and many others.


One of the most common disadvantages is reduced pay. The reason some immigrants may get reduced pay is due to their lack of experience in the field they applied or work for. Often when immigrants come to America they are used to a lower pay scale, so when employers here start them at a lower stage it seems to be significantly more than where they came from. Immigrants weekly income is about $681. Native-born Americans earn $837 a week. (Sachs)

Language barriers are often a major hindrance to finding employment for a few reasons. The most obvious, they can make simple interactions very uncomfortable. Sometimes immigrants can’t read the applications, can’t communicate with others to be able to have a successful interview, and it’s highly unlikely they would have many references unless they have been here for a significant amount of time. Although the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers discrimination based foreign language, it’s usually not consistently enforced. (Cosgrove-Mather) Often immigrants come here illegally because the process to get in the U.S. and obtain a visa can be complicated and expensive. Coming into the United States illegally forms multiple problems within the government and goes far beyond the workplace. This also comes back to the element of language barriers and if immigrants aren’t able to speak English well this will only make the legal responsibilities much harder.

Transportation is another disadvantage many old and new immigrants face. Coming into the United States with little money is the number one problem. Also, their driver’s license might not be recognized in your new country, which means there may be costs associated with becoming qualified. Also, again, the language barrier can make understanding or even finding useful local public transit services a hard task. For example, in Canada, driver’s licenses are issued by provincial or territorial governments, not a central body, and you will need to check specific regulations for the area you intend to live. It’s normally possible to drive using your home-country license, although you will also need and IDP (International Driving Permit). Public transportation can be demanding even for non-immigrants. (Spracklin)

Another obvious disadvantage many immigrants face is racism and prejudice. This is a disheartening element of the immigrant experience across the world. However, support services are available. Social services, community and peer groups, and a powerful police force that has a vigorous diversity and anti-racism policies. In Canada, there are local, national groups that work to combat racism and discrimination on the grounds of race is outlawed under the Canadian of Rights and Freedoms. (Spracklin)

Lastly, immigrants can face isolation to the community and neighborhood. Missing the support of family, friends and social circles is a huge factor when moving to a new place. Those who come from societies where traditional support structures within communities are strong can find that they are lost, alone, and disoriented when moving to a Western country where individualism is often prized over family. (Spraklin)

It is more than a disadvantage to be an immigrant and try to find a job. They struggle with all of the following, reduced pay, language barriers, legal issues, employee resistance, transportation, cultural differences, prejudice and racism, and finally isolation.















Lofgren, Jennifer. “Everyday Americans Exceptional Americans.” Immigrant Discrimination,         Center for History and New Media, chnm.gmu.edu/tah-   loudoun/blog/lessons/immigrant-discrimination/.


Sachs, Goldman, and Patrick Gillespie. “America’s Immigrant Economy: More Work, Less Pay.” CNNMoney, Cable News Network, 19 Aug. 2016, money.cnn.com/2016/08/19/news/economy/us-immigrant-economy/index.html.


Cosgrove-Mather, Bootie. “Language Barriers Cause Problems.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 6   Aug. 2002, www.cbsnews.com/news/language-barriers-cause-problems/.


Spracklin, Pat. “Top 10 Problems for Immigrants.” Immigroup, 5 July 2017,       www.immigroup.com/news/top-10-problems-immigrants

April 30, 2018