- from Ellis Island
Ellis Island opened in 1892. By then, the United States government had definite ideas about who was not welcome to stay. The Immigration Act of 1891 excluded many.
These included the mentally disabled and those with a “loathsome or contagious disease.” Anyone who had been convicted of a crime that involved morals was not welcome. Also not allowed: anyone who might need the government to take care of them. A 1903 law kept out anarchists (people who want to do away with all government). In 1917, a law banned those who could not read in their own language or in English. Ellis Island inspectors had to weed out the immigrants who fell into these categories. Still, only 2 percent of those who landed on Ellis Island were turned away.