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America as a whole has been
built up and formed from the risks of those who have sought new lives and more
freedoms; immigrants. They have cultivated society into a melting pot of
cultures, histories, religions, philosophies, and many more concepts that broaden
the horizons for any citizen living in the United States. As this society had
to be built up over time, most immigrants obtained their citizenships by
traveling through Ellis Island, located in New York City, to enter through the
U.S. For many immigrants who escaped prosecution in their own home countries,
by traveling through Ellis Island, obtaining citizenship, and following the
“American Dream”, all immigrants were given opportunity and the ability to help
mold a new society. This served to benefit America as a whole. The history of Ellis Island: Ellis Island went from a “hanging site for pirates, a harbor fort, ammunition and ordinance
depot named Fort Gibson, and finally into an immigration station”. After the
British were able to sail easily into the New York Harbor during the
Revolutionary War, the federal government bought the area from New York State
in 1808 so that fortifications could be built. These fortifications were
converted into Castle Garden, but once it was realized that Castle Garden was
incompetent to accommodate the massive waves of immigrants, the new structure
was built on Ellis Island. Ellis Island was constructed in 1892 and open for entry on
January 1st. However, Castle Garden, which was the first constructed
building that allowed immigrants into the country, was open to immigrant entry
and served as a passage for immigration in approximately 1855, and the
structure was built before 1812. It was originally built to fortify the
Port of New York after British were able to sail right through with no problems
during the Revolutionary War. In short, it was built as a precaution to
invasion through the port. It then was converted to be a passage. The structure
that allowed for immigrant passage was built because Castle Garden was truly
too small and couldn’t handle the traffic. So, the government stepped in and
aided in the construction of a federally run immigration station. At Ellis Island,
inspections of immigrants lasted about four hours. Physicians inspected
immigrants for any obvious physical ailments that they had, mainly concerning
transmittable diseases. Immigrants were also questioned about their intent and
other personal questions, so the government employees who were working at the
island could keep the country safe from those who could be a threat to the
nation. From 1892 to 1954, more than 12 million immigrants entered America
through the small island in the New York Harbor. Some years had a higher influx
while in contrast, other years faced a slight deficit. These years included
those between 1918 and 1919, as well as toward the end of World War One, during
the Red Scare. Because Ellis Island burned down on June 15th, 1897,
many of the immigration records were lost, so the numbers are truly an estimate
as these records dated back to before 1855. As a majority, there were mass
waves of immigrants. In 1907, for example, approximately 1.25 million
immigrants were processed through the island. During slow seasons however (like
during the Red Scare), 225,206 immigrants entered the country (which was
considered a lower number in the grand scheme of the islands
statistics). Immigrants from places like Germany, England, Ireland, and
Scandinavian countries were some of the most early documented immigrants to
enter the country. Only two percent of the immigrants that tried to enter the
country were excluded. The reasons they would be excluded include the fact that
Interrogators or Doctors thought that they would be a threat to American
Society, they would become illegal contract laborers, or that they had some
type of contagious disease that would threaten the lives of others. Immigrants
from other countries also attempted to get in later on, but faced more
hardships as negative attitudes developed over time. 1892-1950 was a major
time period when over 12 million immigrants entered the country through the use
of Ellis Island. Ensuing political instability, excessively restrictive
religious laws, deteriorating economic conditions, personal oppression,
manipulation of the citizens by the government, and many others caused
immigrants to evacuate their home countries to try to find better lives in the
U.S. Immigrants brought new cultural traditions and brought their native
languages, native traditions and customs, as well as their native knowledge,
which served to diversify America completely. As immigration began to
increase, politicians and original American citizens called for increased
“protections” against immigrants. The restrictions included the Chinese
Exclusion Act, the Alien Contract Labor Law, and the many unfair literacy tests
were examples of the discriminations that they faced when entering the island.
Many Americans began to have a racist attitude towards the immigrants who were
coming into the country. Racial slurs began to be developed against the
immigrants, many were packed into slums and tenement houses because it was very
hard for an immigrant to find an exceedingly well-paying job.Though exciting at
first, as more immigrants rolled into the country, the new immigrants from Eastern
and Southern Europe were considered more dangerous and inferior to the
immigrants that entered first. Skeptics also emerged which deluded the positive
image of immigrants and instead instilled a fear that some were solely coming
to harm Americans.

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