U.S. Immigration & You

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Learning Objects (10)

Direct Access Links:

The History of Ellis Island (Liberty / Ellis Island Foundation)
American Immigrant Wall of Honor (Liberty / Ellis Island Foundation)
The Statue of Liberty (Liberty / Ellis Island Foundation)
The New Colossus (Liberty / Ellis Island Foundation)
Overview of U.S. Immigration Policies (U.S. Immigration Services)
Historical Overview of Immigration Policy (Center for Immigration Studies)
A Dozen Facts About Immigration (Brookings)
A Nation Built By Immigrants (George W. Bush Presidential Center)
Research Your Family History (National Archives)
History & Genealogy (U.S. Immigration Services)


The United States has been shaped by successive waves of immigration from the arrival of the first colonists through the present day. Immigration has wide-ranging impacts on society, culture, and the nation’s economy. Consequently, immigration is important to U.S. citizens and those who seek to become Americans. It is hotly debated in the political arena as the level and manner of immigration may affect jobs, voting outcomes, national security and many other facets of our lives.

At the same time, we are a country of immigrants. Explore your own family’s journey to America and find out about your ancestors, their beliefs, passions, hardships and dreams – after all, it’s what makes you an American!


U.S. Immigration History & Policy

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The History of Ellis Island

From 1892 to 1954, over twelve million immigrants entered the United States through the portal of Ellis Island, a small island in New York Harbor. Ellis Island is located in the upper bay just off the New Jersey coast, within the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. Although the island was once an immigration hub, it is now a restored national monument.

American Immigrant Wall of Honor

The American Immigrant Wall of Honor is a permanent exhibit of individual or family names featured at Ellis Island in New York Harbor. It is the only place in the United States where an individual can honor his or her family heritage at a National Monument.

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The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is more than a monument. She is a beloved friend, a living symbol of freedom to millions around the world. The museum exhibits are a tribute to the people who created her, to those who built and paid for her, to the ideals she represents, and to the hopes she inspires.

The New Colossus

Emma Lazarus, a native New Yorker, contributed one of the most well known pieces of art inspired by the Statue of Liberty and its optimistic message to the world’s disenfranchised people. Her sonnet entitled “The New Colossus,” written in 1883 for an auction to raise funds for the pedestal, was a tribute to the symbolism of Lady Liberty. In the past, many large monument statues were meant to deter enemies or to represent the strength and wealth of a nation. But this is not so for Lady Liberty.


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Overview of U.S. Immigration Policies

Americans encouraged relatively free and open immigration policies throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. After certain states passed immigrations laws following the Civil War, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1875, declared regulation of immigration a federal responsibility. Various federal laws have been adopted over the years introducing quotas, requiring literacy and perferring immigration of certain people over others, including the provision of humanitarian relief. As illegal immigrants became more common, immigration changed from an economic focus to a law enforcement one. The events of 9/11 injected new urgency and created yet another shift in U.S. immigration policy. The emphasis of American immigration law enforcement became border security and removing criminal aliens to protect the nation from terrorist attacks.


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Center for Immigration Studies

Historical Overview of Immigration Policy

Explore this resource for  an overview of recently proposed immigration bills and executive orders as well as up-to-date opinions and reports on immigration-related issues, including: chain migration, immigration costs, sanctuary cities, and migrant caravans.


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A Dozen Facts About Immigration

Immigration has wide-ranging impacts on society and culture, and its economic effects are no less substantial. By changing population levels and population growth, immigration augments both supply and demand in the economy. Immigrants are more likely to work (and to be working-age); they also tend to hold different occupations and educational degrees than natives. By the second generation (the native-born children of immigrants), though, the economic outcomes of immigrant communities exhibit striking convergence toward those of native communities.


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A Nation Built By Immigrants

America is strengthened by the contributions made by immigrants. For the U.S. Economy to Flourish to its full potential, outdated immigration policy must be modernized.


Explore Your Own Family History!

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Research Your Family History

A decision to start a family tree and research your ancestors will take you on an interesting journey back through time. Beginning your journey with your own life, you build on information about your parents, grandparents and from there the journey might go back even hundreds of years! A good place to start is the National Archives, the nation’s recordkeeper. The National Archives preserves and makes available the permanently valuable records of the Federal government, including immigration lists, ship manifests, property records, military records, census reports and more. Begin by asking your family members about stories, reviewing family scrapbooks, photographs and other momentos. Watch the powerpoint presentation and webinars on the National Archives site and experience your own history unfolding before you!


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History & Genealogy

The USCIS Historical Research Branch offers several webinars for beginner and advanced researchers. They are an easy and free way to learn about the USCIS history, library, and genealogy programs and services from agency historians, librarians and program representatives.


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Ontology Tags Government & Political Structures: Impact of Government Policies – (1) Business (2) Economic Growth (3) Social Policy | Law in Society: (1) Borders & Boundaries – (a) Immigration (b) Naturalization & Citizenship (2) Security & Defense-related Law – National Security | Societies: (1) Inhabiting Our World – (a) Cultures & Ethnicity (b) Societal Shifts | (2) Uncovering Social Issues – Immigration (3) Valuing Ancestry – Discovering Family Ties

Search Terms Challenging Problems: (1) Questions – (a) Reveal the World (b) Strongly Held Beliefs (2) Themes – Research Based (3) Humans in the World – (a) Ancestry (b) Family, Friends & Relationships (c) Habitation and Population (4) Of the Mind – Implications of Decisions | Intended Learning Outcomes: Instilled Citizenship Values – Societal Influence & Political World