It is difficult today to recapture the iconoclasm signaled by Oscar Handlin’s opening words to his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Uprooted more than fifty years ago: “Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history.”
Congress passed a bill sponsored by Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, with support from the Immigration Restriction League, requiring a literacy test for immigrants, though President Grover Cleveland later vetoed the bill in 1897.
Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 increased border security, granted amnesty to certain illegal aliens (including those present since 1982 and some agricultural workers), and imposed sanctions against employers who knowingly hired illegal aliens.
The Immigration Restriction League (IRL) was an anti-immigration organization founded by a group of Harvard graduates in 1894. Members of the organization believed that immigration contributed to social problems such as urban crowding, poverty, crime, and labor unrest, and the IRL advocated a literacy requirement for immigrants as a way of limiting the entry of “new immigrants” from eastern Europe into the United States. In 1896, the IRL acheived passage of a Congressional literacy bill with the support of Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of...
Ellis Island, in Upper New York Bay, was opened in 1892 as an immigration reception center. Between 1892 and 1924, about 17 million immigrants were processed at Ellis Island. In 1943, immigration processing was moved to the city of New York, and Ellis Island became a detention center. It later became part of the National Parks system and today houses the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.