Immigration: Then and Now

The three events that I shall be talking about all are connected to Immigration. They each represent pieces of the larger picture of Immigration as a whole. They are: the unveiling and use of Ellis Island as an immigration center, the immigration act of 1924 that sought to limit the amount of foreigners who were allowed to enter the United States and lastly the 2006 Immigrant rallies which protest the limits on immigration.

Ellis island was an immigrant processing center that opened in the late 19th century. Foner describes it as being a filter to help prevent ill folk radicals and anarchists from entering the States. However, this was a lost cause as the millions of people who flooded Ellis island could not be all thoroughly examined for sickness or political loyalty. Yet Ellis Island is an important part of immigration history as it was hailed as the final hurdle for hopeful immigrants to the US to pass.

The Immigration Act of 1924 or the Asian Exclusion Act severely limited the amount of people that could immigrate to the US..  East Asian populations were affected dramatically by this and it was an important date. Though this was not the only immigration act to be passed it serves as an important example of how immigration could be controlled. Many people fled their native countries for various reasons. Political turmoil, revolutions and oppression at home spurred people all over the globe to come to America. However, these acts show that anyone can be turned away with the proper legislation.

The final event which Foner mentions and that is after 1969 is the 2006 Immigration rallies in Chicago.  The rallies were an important example of agency. Agency is the ability of a people to change their fate. The politicians were attempting to deport illegal immigrants and crack down on illegal immigration. However, this included many second and first generation immigrants some of whom were legal and some of whom were not. These plans prompted an outburst around the country as people rallied for the ability to stay in America. The ‘shot at the American Dream’ was all they asked for.

These three events are important because they all show immigration as a global phenomenon that continues to affect us to this day. Immigration is an issue that embodies the basic concept of American freedom from tyranny. However, it is also a complex issue that convicts and other criminals use to escape prosecution. It is also used as a tool for those seeking a better life. Either way it is an issue that will always remain current and will continue to affect us in the future.

This is an aerial view of Ellis Island.
President Coolidge Signs Immigration Act
This is President Coolidge signing the Immigration Act of 1924.
Chicago Immigration Rally
This is the 2006 Chicago Pro-Immigration Rally.
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