- from Ellis Island
Ellis Island opened in 1892. By then, the U.S. government had decided who was welcome to stay, and who was not. The Immigration Act of 1891 excluded many.
These included the mentally disabled. It also banned those with a “loathsome or contagious disease.” Anyone who had been convicted of a crime that involved morals was not welcome. Also unwelcome: people who might need the government to take care of them. A 1903 law kept out anarchists (people who want to remove 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 immigrants who fell into these categories. Still, only 2 percent of those who landed on Ellis Island were turned away.