By Glenn Leach
In their concern about immigration, some people argue that their ancestors arrived in the United States in compliance with immigration law, yet others now seek to immigrate without compliance.
Historically, most immigrants faced no immigration law at all. Immigration law essentially began in 1882 when the U.S. first banned Chinese immigration. The 1875 Page Act, while focusing primarily on Asians, imposed the first general immigration restrictions, barring the immigration of “undesirables” such as prostitutes.
Many Americans’ forebears came through Ellis Island, N.Y. New York was the most popular ship destination from Europe. First- and second-class passengers arriving in the state would disembark, pass through Customs and were free to enter the United States. Third- or steerage-class passengers were diverted to Ellis Island for registration and inspection. New York and Ellis Island were never the only port of entry for immigrants, however.
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