Immigration into the United States has been an important part of the fabric of the country for well over one hundred years. Immigrants from almost every corner of the world have longed to enter into America and experience the freedoms that citizens share. Most people want to immigrate to the U.S. in order to escape from communist rule or a dictatorship, or they wish to open their own business and experience all of the many liberties that people have such as freedom of religion, speech, or other freedoms the Constitution affords. People want to live in America because there are many more opportunities for themselves and their families to do well and achieve their goals.
Since the late 1800s, people began immigrating to the United States. Ellis Island and the statue of liberty now serve as monuments to the many people who have traveled thousands of miles to work and live here. Just between 1879 and 1900, approximately 12 million immigrants arrived, and most came from the nations of Germany, Italy, and Ireland. In 2008 alone, there were over one million immigrants who became citizens of the United States. This is why America is now known as the "melting pot of the world." Currently, those coming from Mexico make up the largest population of immigrants, but people from China, the Philippines, India, and many other countries also enter into the U.S. every year.
Many of the earliest immigrants in America settled in New York, or the many boroughs that surround it. This is because Ellis Island became a hub and a landing place for immigrant ships. People showed their papers, and were soon welcomed into the United States. Over 100 million Americans today can trace their origins back to someone who arrived at Ellis Island. Most people arrived by boat, while some did arrive via train or airplane. Today, many arrive by air, although some cross the U.S. border on foot or by car illegally. Other heavily populated areas of the country were also occupied by early immigrants seeking steady work or a stable place to live. This is still the case today, although there are more larger cities now than there were in the 1800s and early 1900s. Early immigration laws were much more relaxed than they are today. The process involved providing paperwork, and someone at the entrance gate stamped it, and the person was granted passage.
While the nation of the United States as a whole opens its arms to immigrants, the issue has still been one of controversy. Some citizens are grateful and happy to receive immigrants into their country, as they provide labor and diversity. On the other hand, many people feel that the laws over the last few decades have become too lax, and that immigrants often clog up the current system, such as the educational and health systems. Because of the large and ever-growing number of illegal immigrants, largely from Mexico, people have also become wary of increased crime. While the federal government attempts to crack down on illegal immigration, it is still not as strictly enforced as many feel it should be. The laws today are much more complex than they were in the early days of immigration, and people must provide a large number of documents as well as pass tests and other criteria before they can become a citizen. The laws also change rapidly, so it is difficult for the government to keep up with the vast number of people attempting to enter into the country.