Immigration Paper

This essay has a total of 1048 words and 4 pages.


The Immigration Experience
They are our grandparents, our relatives, our friends. They are the immigrants. They came
from all over the world for many reasons, such as, religious persecution and racial
tension, but the largest reason for coming to America was for freedom. The freedom to live
where we want, to own property, to take part in the government and most importantly, the
freedom to be treated like a human being. Coming over was extremely difficult. For
some, there were good, seaworthy boats, but most boats were overcrowded, dirty, and
disgusting. For Jews, the passage was extremely difficult because of the non-kosher ship
food. People were pushed together like cattle. Most people became seasick. From one
account came descriptions of unsanitary bathrooms. This, surely, must have been torture,
but, hopefully, most immigrants found the dreadful trip to be worth the freedom at the
other end. Ellis Island, also, was far from sanitary. The people would break down
into lines, and walk by a doctor, trying to hide anyphysical problems. Children over two
had to be able to walk by themselves. If the doctor noticed anything wrong he would use a
piece of chalk to show the person required further inspection. If, this was indeed the
case, the person would be set aside in a cage. Another test was that of sanity. An
interpreter would ask each person a few questions just to find a sensible answer to test
mental stability. The last and most feared doctor checked for disease by lifting the
eyelid. He scared children, and probably spread moredisease than the people he checked.
From an eyewitness account, his gloves were not sterile, and he did not change or even
wash them between examinations. I, myself, found this disgusting, and dangerous.
Then, immigrants filed into lines by nationality to be questioned. The questions scared
many people. Should they tell the truth or lie. Which answer would make sure that they
could stay in America. Later, for Jews, help came. A group called the “Hebrew
Immigrant Aid Society,” (HIAS) told them to tell the truth, and helpedthem through the
period between leaving the boat and getting settled in the west. Some officials were
corrupt, and allowed bribes. This makes me wonder, if this was the land of freedom and
justice as it hadbeen claimed. Through the ordeal, one thing is certain. All of the
immigrants passing through Ellis Island were scared and confused. It was one feeling that
most of these people would probably be exposed to for the next few months. There
were many restrictions. People with certain diseases would be sent back. Laws, such as the
Chinese Exclusion Act, would not let certain nationalities into America. In the early
twentieth century it was decided that Japanese people would not be allowed into America.
This was surely not the land of liberty that had been promised by our forefathers. One of
the nationalities traveling to America were Jews. They were treated somewhat differently.
This was probably becausemany of their countries would not accept them. The first
Jews in the new world were Morranos from Spain. They fled their homeland because of the
inquisition. They traveled from Spain to South America, and then to New Amsterdam. They,
at first were rejected by Peter Stuyvesant, but petitioned the Dutch West India Company of
Amsterdam, Holland, and, eventually were let into the colony. Stuyvesant was determined to
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