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Immigration Experience

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Immigration Experience

The Immigration Experience-

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The Immigration Experience-

They are our grandparents, our relatives, our friends. They

are the immigrants. They came from all over the world for many

reasons, such as, religious persecution and racial tension, but the

largest reason for coming to America was for freedom. The freedom to

live where we want, to own property, to take part in the government

and most importantly, the freedom to be treated like a human being.

Coming over was extremely difficult. For some, there were

good, seaworthy boats, but most boats were overcrowded, dirty, and

disgusting. For Jews, the passage was extremely difficult because of

the non-kosher ship food. People were pushed together like cattle.

Most people became seasick. From one account came descriptions of

unsanitary bathrooms. This, surely, must have been torture, but,

hopefully, most immigrants found the dreadful trip to be worth the

freedom at the other end.

Ellis Island, also, was far from sanitary. The people would

break down into lines, and walk by a doctor, trying to hide any

physical problems. Children over two had to be able to walk by

themselves. If the doctor noticed anything wrong he would use a piece

of chalk to show the person required further inspection. If, this was

indeed the case, the person would be set aside in a cage.

Another test was that of sanity. An interpreter would ask each

person a few questions just to find a sensible answer to test mental

stability. The last and most feared doctor checked for disease by

lifting the eyelid. He scared children, and probably spread more

disease than the people he checked. From an eyewitness account, his

gloves were not sterile, and he did not change or even wash them

between examinations. I, myself, found this disgusting, and dangerous.

Then, immigrants filed into lines by nationality to be

questioned. The questions scared many people. Should they tell the

truth or lie. Which answer would make sure that they could stay in


Later, for Jews, help came. A group called the "Hebrew

Immigrant Aid Society," (HIAS) told them to tell the truth, and helped

them through the period between leaving the boat and getting settled

in the west. Some officials were corrupt, and allowed bribes. This

makes me wonder, if this was the land of freedom and justice as it had

been claimed. Through the ordeal, one thing is certain. All of the

immigrants passing through Ellis Island were scared and confused. It

was one feeling that most of these people would probably be exposed to

for the next few months.

There were many restrictions. People with certain diseases

would be sent back. Laws, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, would not

let certain nationalities into America. In the early twentieth century

it was decided that Japanese people would not be allowed into America.

This was surely not the land of liberty that had been promised by our

forefathers. One of the nationalities traveling to America were Jews.

They were treated somewhat differently. This was probably because

many of their countries would not accept them.

The ...

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