How and When Did the U.S. Start Veering Economic Nativist?

A colleague of mine is giving a talk soon on economic growth and immigration. He recounted to me today how in telling the organizer about his intended talking point — that there is money lying on the sidewalk for the first U.S. state to open up to immigrant entrepreneurs — the fellow’s eyes hardened, and he went off about “citizens first”, and the perils of immigration.

This anecdote is supported by recent polling data, like the following from Pew which shows that, at best, people are of multiple minds with respect to legal immigration.

When did this young, immigrant-founded country start to veer toward nativism? Separating the discussion of legal from illegal immigration — I’m not interested in Arizona chatter, when did sentiment change toward immigration in this country? Or is it just me, and the U.S. has always been so conflicted in its view of this force that has been on of its primary ones for growth? [-]