“New” Immigration (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: A new wave of Southern European immigrants meets with nativist resentment and federal controls.
Summary of Event
In 1808, the United States government purchased Ellis Island from the state of New York for ten thousand dollars. The new federal property, located in New York Harbor about one mile from the southern tip of Manhattan Island, served first as a fort and later as an arsenal. Until 1882, the state of New York had guided the influx of immigration from the old Castle Garden station at the tip of Manhattan. The opening of Ellis Island on January 1, 1892, as the first federal immigration station symbolized a new era for the United States as well as the beginning of the end of free immigration to the New World.
Congress had begun the selective process of excluding undesirable elements among those emigrating to the United States with the passage of the federal Immigration Act in 1882. That measure was designed to prevent the immigration of persons who had criminal records and those who were mentally incompetent or indigent. That same year, Congress also passed the Chinese Exclusion Act (later extended to all Asians) barring an entire nationality from entry as racially undesirable for a period of ten years. In 1904 the act’s provisions were extended indefinitely, to be repealed only in 1943.
Most immigrants before the 1890’s had come from Northern and Western Europe. In the...
(The entire section is 1517 words.)
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