Poet Emma Lazarus wrote these famous words: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . . . ” She wrote them to help raise funds to build a base for the Statue of Liberty.
The statue, a giant gift from France, was meant to celebrate two things: democratic government and the end of slavery in the United States. When it arrived, it was given a place of honor in New York Harbor. Soon after, an immigration station opened on nearby Ellis Island. Immigrants on arriving ships cheered for Lady Liberty. Then they went to Ellis Island for testing. If they weren’t sick, they could enter their new homeland. Sometimes, they were welcomed. More often, new immigrants faced unfair treatment.
On the West Coast, immigrants had a different experience. Some had to wait months to learn if they could enter the U.S. While waiting, they had to stay at Angel Island near San Francisco.
From The New Land by Elma Ehrlich Levinger. Block Publishing Company, 1920.