Weird History

The 12 Grueling Steps To Legal Immigration Through Ellis Island

The Ellis Island immigration process was not easy for those who traveled to the United States. Immigrants often spent several days or weeks at sea before getting to the island, and were exhausted and hungry when they arrived. And countless people went through this grueling ritual; the first immigrant passed through Ellis Island on January 1, 1892, and foreigners continued to be processed there through the 1930s.

The Ellis Island inspection process took several hours, and did not guarantee that an individual or their family would pass. Immigrants endured medical inspections and hours of legal questioning before they were allowed to step on American soil. Many were detained because they were sick. In fact, on July 19, 1884, then President Chester Arthur issued a proclamation allowing the government to quarantine people entering the United States to prevent the spread of pestilence due to mounting concerns over tuberculosis. Other times, immigrants were detained because they didn't have immediate family members to meet them or didn't have the financial means to settle in the United States. Only a very small percentage were deported due to health problems or other issues.

Immigration through Ellis Island may have been a challenge for many, but it was their chance to make a new life for themselves. For scores of determined immigrants, the brutal questions and inspections were merely the price of admission to America.