When our grandparents came from Europe there were jobs here. Manufacturers sent labor contractors to Europe to convince people to immigrate with the promise of jobs. They made it seem that people were coming to a place where everything was perfect and the streets were paved with gold. In Yiddish, ah goldeneh medina.
The Chinese were a different story. While there had been small groups of Chinese people here, they had not been recruited and were left alone. Then they were recruited to come to the western U.S. to help build the railroads. They performed dangerous work, sometimes dangling from baskets in order to hack track beds out of the western mountains. The exclusion acts was meant to keep them from bringing their families. The thought was that if they had families here they would never leave. It also kept them from marrying anyone here. Couples who wanted to marry went to a lawyer who wrote out a contractual arrangement.
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