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 construct a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty.
That enormous present from France was given in celebration of democratic government and slavery’s end in the United States. Upon its arrival, the statue received a place of honor in New York Harbor. Soon thereafter, an immigration station opened on nearby Ellis Island. As their ships pulled in, immigrants cheered for Lady Liberty. Then they went on to be questioned and tested at Ellis Island. If they weren’t sick, they could proceed to their new homeland. Sometimes, they were welcomed, but more often, new immigrants were treated unfairly.
On the other side of the country, immigrants who arrived by ship sometimes had to wait for months before learning if they would be allowed into the United States. While awaiting their fate, they were held at Angel Island near San Francisco.
From The New Land by Elma Ehrlich Levinger. Block Publishing Company, 1920