Immigrants came to America for many reasons, but most came for the possibilities of a free society which would allow them to better their lives and to practice their religion freely. The initial American immigrants, known as the Pilgrims, came because they did not want to be persecuted for their religious beliefs.
The Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock and originally came from Europe. The English created the first permanent settlements at Jamestown in the Virginia Colony. From there, dissidents came to America so that they could continue to speak out when they were silenced in their own countries. Then new immigrants came to better their lives and that of their families. Of course, the original inhabitants of America were those who crossed the land bridge that used to exist between Asia and North America.
Since World War II, more than four million refugees have come to America in order to find safety and freedom. They flourish in the creative openness that the United States has to offer. However, since the early 1850s when a large number of Asian immigrants arrived, seduced by the California gold rush, the anti-immigrant sentiment has grown. Many native-born Americans were concerned that immigrants would become unwanted competition for jobs. Immigration policy was primarily handled by the states, but the federal government stepped in during 1890.