Spanish emigration companies had recruited cheap Asian labor to work in Peruvian silver mines and Cuban plantations. Immigration agents signed contracts with employers promising specified numbers of immigrant laborers, who would sign contracts to work for at least three years, in return for wages that were low by American standards.This contract labor system was difficult to enforce after the immigrant workers arrived in the United States, where they could leave their jobs relatively easily for better-paying work elsewhere without serious consequences for breaking their contracts.Definition: System used by American industry to attract Asian immigrants Significance: During the mid-nineteenth century, a labor shortage in the western United States led to creation of a contract labor system to help the mining and railroad industries attract cheap immigrant labor to the United States.Using labor contracts that paid below-market wages, American industries attracted thousands of Chinese immigrants, angering some Americans who feared immigrant competition and eventually prompting the enactment of federal legislation outlawing foreign contract labor.The labor groups feared American wages were being depressed by cheap foreign labor and directed their ire at the Chinese.In 1862, California responded to these complaints with the Anti-Coolie Act that imposed a special tax on all Chinese workers.Particular targets of this law were Chinese miners, who were forced to pay a monthly .50 tax in order to work in California.
Other Asian countries that sent large numbers of contract laborers to the United States included Japan and the Philippines.
The state law targeted Chinese workers on the assumption that raising the costs of immigrant labor would stop mass immigration from Asia.
However, the tax had little effect in slowing immigration.
Source: Department of Homeland Security, Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, 2008.
Figures include only immigrants who obtained legal permanent resident status.
(California State Library) Although most immigration from India to the United States occurred during the early twentyfirst century, the earliest signs of international migration from India occurred after 1830, when Indian merchants, sailors, and indentured workers traveled on East India Company ships to North America. Between 19, thousands of Sikh landowners and peasants left the Punjab in northern India to search the western shores of North America for employment and higher wages.