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Center for Immigration Studies (CIS)
Changing America: U.S. Population in Transition
Contemporary U.S. Literature: Multicultural Perspectives
· Diversity in the U.S. (
· Ethnic America
· Germans in America
· Gesellschaftsstruktur und Gesellschaftspolitik
· The Immigrant Experience
· Immigration to the U.S.
· Issue Guide > Immigration
· New Americans
· Outline of American History
· Portrait of America: Aus vielen eins
· Portrait of America: One From Many
· U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (formerly: Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
· Washington Post > Immigration Debate
· White House > The Agenda > Immigration
· Who We Are Today: The United States in 2005

Original Documents
· Emma Lazarus: "The New Colossus"
· Immigration and Naturalization Act
· Immigration Law: An Overview

Ancestry 2000

The Foreign-Born Population: 2000
The Foreign-Born Population in the United States: Current Population Survey
The Foreign-Born Population in the United States 1850-1990
· Immigrants in the United States, 2007
· Immigration Statistics on the Web
Language Use and English-Speaking Ability: 2000

Office of Immigration Statistics
· Profile of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2000

· Statistical Abstract 2010: Population
· U.S. Foreign Born Population
· Yearbook of Immigration Statistics

Exhibits - Digital Images
· Ellis Island NP
· A Century of Immigration
· The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation (SOLEIF)
· Immigration: The Changing Face of America
· Selected Images of Ellis Island and Immigration
· Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island
I knew I was an American when... (video)

For High School Students
· Ellis Island NP
· Ellis Island Online
· How Immigration Works
·Immigration: Stories of Yesterday & Today
· U.S. Foreign Born Population Pop Quiz

Teacher Resources

American Immigration Past and Present
Ancestors: Immigration Records (PBS)
· Coming to America
Coming to America. Immigration Builds a Nation
Ethnic Vissions of the U.S. (eReader)
Great Sites for Teaching: Immigration
Home Away from Home. Investigating Your City's Immigration History
· Huddled Masses Still Yearning to Breathe Free. Examining the Modern "Immigrant Experience".
· Immigrating to the United States
Immigration: Stories of Yesterday & Today
In the Melting Pot. Understanding the Immigration Process
Lady Liberty
· Learning About U.S. Immigration With The New York Times
The New Americans. Lesson Plans for Educators
· Port of Entry: Immigration Teacher Material
· USCIS Education & Resources
· Worlds Apart. Investigating Differences Among the Experiences of Immigrants

Link Lists
Immigration > Source & Resources
· Immigration Issues
· Yahoo! Full Coverage: Immigration News


Statute of Liberty

The Golden Door
The first European immigrants in American history came from England and the Netherlands. Attracted by reports of great economic opportunities and religious and political freedom, immigrants from many other countries flocked to the United States in increasing numbers, the flow reaching a peak in the years 1892-1924. During the late 19th century, the government operated a special port of entry on Ellis Island; it was in operation from 1892 until 1954 and is now preserved as part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. The Statue of Liberty, which was a gift from the people of France to the people of America in 1886, stands on an island in New York Harbor, near Ellis Island. Between 1820 and 1979, the United States admitted more than 49 million immigrants.

Limits on Newcomers
In 1924, the first laws were passed that set limits on how many people from specific countries would be admitted to the United States. The limits were based on the number of people from that country already living in the country. In 1965, immigration quotas were established according to who applied first; and national quotas were replaced with hemispheric ones. Preference was given to relatives of U.S. citizens and immigrants with specific job skills. In 1978, Congress abandoned hemispheric quotas and established a worldwide ceiling. The United States accepts more immigrants than any other country; in 2007, its population included 38.1 million foreign-born persons (that is appr. 12.6 % of the total population.) The revised immigration law of 1990 created a flexible cap of 675,000 immigrants each year, with certain categories of people exempted from the limit. That law attempts to attract more skilled workers and professionals to the United States and to draw immigrants from countries that have supplied relatively few Americans in recent years.

Illegal Immigrants
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) estimates that some 5 million people are living in the United States without permission, and the number is growing by about 275,000 a year. Native-born Americans and legal immigrants worry about the problem of illegal immigration. Many believe that illegal immigrants (also called "illegal aliens") take jobs from citizens, especially from young people and members of minority groups. Moreover, illegal aliens can place a heavy burden on tax-supported social services.

In 1986 Congress revised immigration law to deal with illegal aliens. Many of those who had been in the country since 1982 became eligible to apply for legal residency that would eventually permit them to stay in the country permanently. In 1990, nearly 900,000 people took advantage of this law to obtain legal status. The law also provided strong measures to combat further illegal immigration and imposed penalties on businesses that knowingly employ illegal aliens.

The Legacy
The steady stream of people coming to America's shores has had a profound effect on the American character. It takes courage and flexibility to leave your homeland and come to a new country. The American people have been noted for their willingness to take risks and try new things, for their independence and optimism. If Americans whose families have been here longer tend to take their material comfort and political freedoms for granted, immigrants are at hand to remind them how important those privileges are.

Immigrants taking oath
Immigrants taking the oath as new U.S. citizens

Immigrants also enrich American communities by bringing aspects of their native cultures with them. Many black Americans now celebrate both Christmas and Kwanzaa, a festival drawn from African rituals. Hispanic Americans celebrate their traditions with street fairs and other festivities on Cinco de Mayo (May 5). Ethnic restaurants abound in many American cities. President John F. Kennedy, himself the grandson of Irish immigrants, summed up this blend of the old and the new when he called America "a society of immigrants, each of whom had begun life anew, on an equal footing. This is the secret of America: a nation of people with the fresh memory of old traditions who dare to explore new frontiers.... "

Feature Articles
  InfoAlert highlights recent articles and reports from leading U.S. journals and policy sources and provides informed commentary on international and domestic issues.
  • InfoAlert > U.S. Society > Immigration
InfoAlert > U.S. Society > Multiculturalism
Article Archive > Immigration
Article Archive > Multiculturalism

Refugee Resettlement in the United States
The U.S. refugee resettlement program reflects the United States’ highest values and aspirations to compassion, generosity and leadership. Since 1975, Americans have welcomed almost 3 million refugees from all over the world. Refugees have built new lives, homes and communities in towns and cities in all 50 states... (America. gov, September 21, 2010)

New Immigrants Live Russian and American Lives
Today’s Russian immigrants to the United States are more diverse — ethnically and socially — than previous émigrés. Adapting easily to U.S. society, they still retain a strong sense of their unique identity and enjoy combining the best traditions of Russia with those of the United States. ... (America. gov, 18 June 2009)

A Patchwork Culture - Identity in America
The United States is a patchwork of diverse ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds. The growing diversity of the U.S. population shapes how Americans identify themselves.. (, March 2009)

Multicultural Literature in the U.S.Today (Electronic Journal, February 2009)
The United States is enriched culturally by immigrants from many nations. This edition of eJournal USA focuses on distinguished American writers from various ethnic backgrounds who add immeasurably to mutual understanding and appreciation through tales of their native lands and their experiences as Americans.

American Olympic Team Reflects U.S. Diversity. By Domenick DiPasquale., July 30, 2008.
When the U.S. Olympic team competes in the Summer Olympics in Beijing, the American athletes will be a microcosm of the world. At least 33 are foreign-born and some others are children of recent immigrants.

U.S. Minority Population Continues to Grow. By David Minckler., May 14, 2008.
Slightly more than one-third of the population of the United States -- 34 percent -- claims minority, racial or ethnic heritage, a jump of 11 percent from 2000. The May 1 Census Bureau report, covering estimates for the year 2007, confirms that the U.S. population is becoming increasingly diverse. Hispanics and Asians continue to be the two fastest-growing minorities.

Ellis Island Honors Immigrants to United States. By Melody Merin
Some 40 percent of Americans can trace their ancestry to immigrants who passed through the Ellis Island immigration center between 1892 and 1954. (, May 9, 2008.)

American Identity: Ideas, Not Ethnicity
. By Michael Jay Friedman.
Since the United States was founded in the 18th century, Americans have defined themselves not by their racial, religious, and ethnic identity but by their common values and belief in individual freedom.
(Reprinted from eJournal USA: Immigrants Joining the Mainstream, February 2008)

Immigration and U.S. History. By Hasia Diner.
Tens of millions of immigrants over four centuries have made the United States what it is today. They came to make new lives and livelihoods in the New World; their hard work benefited themselves and their new home country.
(Reprinted from eJournal USA: Immigrants Joining the Mainstream, February 2008)

The Immigration Act of 1965: Intended and Unintended Consequences. By Roger Daniels.
Little noted at the time and ignored by most historians for decades, the 1965 law is now regarded as one of three 1965 statutes that denote the high-water mark of late 20th-century American liberalism. (The other two are the Voting Rights Act, which enforced the right of African Americans to vote, and the Medicare/Medicaid Act, which financed health care for older Americans and for persons in poverty.) The Immigration Act was chiefly responsible for the tremendous surge in immigration in the last third of the 20th century, and also greatly heightened the growing incidence of Latin Americans and Asians in the mix of arrivals to the United States in the decades that followed. (Historians on America, September 2007.)

Texts are abridged from U.S. State Department IIP publications and other U.S. government materials.
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Updated: October 2010