Historians note the emergence of the first organizations during the period of industrialization in the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and the United States. The United States and several European countries recruited workers from Africa, India and South America to work in European and American factories. Industrialized countries tended to attract migrant workers from the countries they colonized. For example, the British industries attracted a large number of migrant workers from India.
One of the first large influxes of foreign workers in the United States came from China after discovery of gold in California in 1848. Gold mining had become a large commercial industry, and few Americans were ready to withstand the hard physical labor required by mining companies.
Peasants in rural China considered this work as an opportunity to improve their living conditions in their homeland. Thousands of people came from China to the United States, planning to return eventually to their homeland. They lived together in communities called Chinatowns, and many of them never returned to China.