Immigrants during World War 1

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Immigration can be a tricky situation to handle. As time has passed along, America’s opinion on immigration has changed drastically. From the time of the 1800s to the creation of Ellis and Angel Island, the laws/regulations regarding immigrants have been fluctuating ever since. On the other hand, between 1880 and 1920, everything changed. With World War 1 coming right around the corner, America’s tendency to accepting refugees started to become much more different than expected. .

From 1880 to the 1920s, there was a period of rapid industrialization and urbanization. According to, more than 20 million immigrants from various European nations migrated to the U.S. Beginning in the 1890s, more than 600,000 Italian immigrants migrated to America. By the 1920s, more than 4 million entered into the U.S. This trend of immigrants migrating to America, caused a drastic influx in our population and it reached to almost 1.3 million people. At the start of the 1914s, a major outbreak occurred, that cause millions of innocent lives to be put into severe danger: World War 1. Immigrants were rejected from entering the U.S., which lead to a rapid decrease in immigration. During the 1917s, Congress issued that for every immigrant trying to enter the U.S., they had to take a literacy test.

Between this time period, the majority of the immigration took place between Ellis and Angel Island. Although the two islands served for a similar purpose; of holding immigrants, they both had different ways of handling them. Let’s begin with Angel Island. This island was and still is located in San Francisco, California. At the beginning of the 1800s, Angel Island began accepting thousands and thousands of Asian immigrants. Although this may seem like a good movie, there was another problem: immigration screening. Thousands of these Asian immigrants entering into the U.S. through Angel Island, went through this long and gruesome screening, letting only a few hundred being accepted into America. With long interrogation sessions with each individual immigrant, it felt almost impossible to move on. The Asians immigrant began their journey by being held in detention centers. These detention centers served their purpose as a type of “jail” for weeks, months, and years! And by the time they went through the screening process, there was no guarantee that they would ever be allowed to enter America.

On the other hand, another place immigrants travelled to during this time period was Ellis Island, located in New York. Unlike, Angel Island, Ellis Island was a bit more of a happier place. First off, they hosted more European immigrants rather than Asian immigrants. Most importantly though, they had a minimized screening procedure. This meant that the wait time to entering the U.S. was somewhere between 20 to 24 hours. Overall, a much higher percentage of immigrants were granted permission into entering America.

In the end, immigration between the 1880s and the 1920s, was in a unique phase. With the acceptance of refugees, to the devastating impact World War 1 had to the world, immigration will always fluctuate in the mind’s of the American citizens. I feel that it represents and relates to the present day situations with immigration and how we handle it together, as a unified nation.

After the whole scenario of World War 1, a new situation was about to uprise in the U.S. Through the actions Germany as many believe, the creation of WWII began. With the Jews trying to seek refugee due to the persecution of them in Nazi Germany to the victims of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombing, America’s tendency to accepting refugees was drastically shifting. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, immigration remained relatively low following because of the numerical limitations imposed by the 1920s national origins system.

Due to the terror and destruction caused by the Nazis in Germany, the world finally began to feel the impact of refugees. This dilemma uprooted new problems for the INS(Immigration and Naturalization Service).

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Immigrants During World War 1. (2022, Apr 18). Retrieved July 25, 2024 , from

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