When people travel to live in another country, it is known as immigration. As people from Europe and around the world have come to start new lives in America, it has shaped the history and culture of the United States.
Christopher Columbus “discovered” America, but when he sailed to the New World in 1492, the land was already occupied. About 15,000 years earlier, the first settlers found this land by crossing the Bering Land Bridge that connects Alaska and Siberia; their descendants are now called Native Americans.
America was built and populated by immigrants looking for a better life. In 1620, around 100 people left England aboard the Mayflower and landed in Massachusetts. These travelers were looking for freedom to practice their religion.
More people came to the New World looking for freedom and hoping to make money. The citizens were under England’s rule, which many fought since they had left Europe to escape such control. In 1776, the United States of America won its independence. The call went out to populate the land, and hopeful travelers, among them the weary, sick, hungry, and persecuted, made their way to the Colonies. It was a time of open borders.
In 1790, Congress passed the Naturalization Act to limit the people who could move to America. Since then, lawmakers have worked on controlling immigration.
The most famous port for arriving immigrants was Ellis Island, located in the water near New York City. In 1892, Annie Moore, a 15-year-old girl from Ireland, was the first person to arrive on Ellis Island as an official immigrant. Until the center closed in 1954, more than 12 million people came through Ellis Island.
Today, thousands of migrants still to travel to America seeking a new life. People come for different reasons, but all hope to find a better life than the one they left behind.
Illegal immigration is a controversial issue in the U.S. and other parts of the world – a lot of people disagree on how laws should control immigration. Americans wish to welcome migrants, but laws need to be followed. These laws have been changed and updated since the immigration system began nearly 200 years ago.