By GEORGE FULLER
At 7:46 a.m. on October 17, the United States Census Bureau’s big population estimate counter ticked from 299,999,999 to 300 million.
300 million people now live in the U.S., but it was only in 1915 when the counter ticked to 100 million.
Things are certainly different now than they were back then, but in some ways, they are very similar. In 1915, immigrants, mostly from European countries such as Germany, Italy and Poland, were flooding into Ellis Island and other ports of entry. People from varying cultures met and merged and helped reinvigorate the country.
But it was not without a price. With the influx of immigrants came clashes with the existing population. Discrimination, prejudice and persecution were commonplace. Immigrants at this time made up 14 to 15 percent of the U.S. population.
For many years the percentage of people who were immigrants hovered in the single digits. Today, at the 300 million mark, the immigration population is at about 12 percent, close to where it was back in 1915. But whereas immigrants from that time were from Europe, most immigrants now are from Latin America and Asia.
And just like those from the early part of the 1900s, today’s immigrants face similar discrimination, prejudice and persecution. The Census Bureau says the 400 million mark will be reached in the mid-2040s. How will the U.S. look then?
Assuming we continue to welcome immigrants, they will continue to arrive. And the descendants of these present day immigrants can look back to today, see the struggles their ancestors faced, and know how important their contribution was to making the U.S. the country it is.