Ellis Island Opened 125 Years Ago

ellis-island-aerialThe place where many of our ancestors first stepped ashore when they came to America seeking a new life opened on January 1 125 years ago — Ellis Island in New York Harbor. The very first immigrant processed in 1892 at the new facility was a 15-year-old Irish girl named Annie Moore. Over the course of more than 60 years, some 12 million people flowed through the center. Some sources say the number is considerably higher. The peak year was 1907, when just over a million immigrants came to Ellis Island.

The complex now belongs to the National Park Service and is visited by several million people a year. In 1910, the foreign-born represented nearly 15 percent of America’s population. Now, after falling through 1970, that figure sits at 12.9 percent.



ImmigrationThe Ellis Island quasquicentennial has added significance given President Donald Trump’s campaign to clamp down on immigration, both legal and illegal. During his successful campaign, Mr. Trump talked about building a wall on the US-Mexico border (that Mexico would pay for), vetting refugees from war-torn regions, banning radical Muslims from entering the country, and deporting undocumented workers/illegal aliens (estimated at over 11 million men, women and children).

President-elect Trump’s avowed immigration agenda is believed by many critics to be contrary to the ideals (and history) of Ellis Island and the welcoming inscription on Lady Liberty in New York Harbor. Supporters of Mr. Trump say that legal immigration is very much in the spirit of Ellis Island 125 years later.

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