Immigration Law in the USA – A Brief History

Immigration Law in the USA – A Brief History


Although he most likely wasn’t the first immigrant, Ponce de Leon travelled to what is now Florida in 1513.  His discovery led other Spaniards to travel to The New World that is now America, and their numbers quickly spread throughout the Southwest and the western Coastal areas of what would later become the United States.  Their influence is still felt today in those areas’ architecture, customs and cultures.

The English explorers, seeking a passage to the trade-rich Indies, were sent to America in the 16th century.  King James I established a permanent outpost at Jamestown, Virginia that attracted more adventurers seeking their fortunes in the original colonies of America.  They were naturally followed by those who sought religious and political freedom in the vast, untamed lands of North America.

People from all over Europe trickled into what would become the United States during the 16th and 17th centuries, providing the base from which our modern population originated.  The country was well on its way to becoming the wonderful “melting pot” that we have today.

The Journey to the Present

Ellis Island is what most modern history students think of when they hear the term “immigration”.  In the early 1800’s, nearly five million people immigrated from Northern and Western Europe for a variety of reasons, famine chief among them.

In just the twenty short years between 1840-1860, waves of immigrants from Ireland fled to America to escape the potato famine and Germans fled to our shores to escape economic and political unrest and tragedy.  Ellis Island was the landing pad, so to speak, where these immigrants were processed and admitted to the country.  Although they often found prejudice and cruelty, they also found acceptance and freedom and the chance to realize their dreams of personal and financial freedom.

These immigrants from Europe and other nations eagerly learned the language and customs of America while still treasuring their own traditions and culture.  It wasn’t unusual to see an American school child, living and working like all of his friends and classmates, return in the evening to a home that served traditional German food and whose elders spoke their mother tongue-but only in the privacy of their home, never among the general public.  They were, after all, Americans!  This attitude shaped a new United States and strengthened society and the economy more than anyone knew at the time.

Immigration Today

Today, immigration laws are very confusing to Americans themselves as well as to those who would like to become citizens.  Misinformation and contradictory attitudes contribute to many disappointed families as well as legal trouble for potential citizens.  Since immigration laws are almost constantly changing due to economic or political conditions, it would be a wise move for anyone wanting to immigrate to the United States to consult with or engage and Immigration law firm.

Attorneys that are familiar with immigration laws and their frequent changes are able to guide a person in the correct way to legally become a citizen of America.  Due to misinformation in the countries where immigrants originate, a well meaning person could well walk past the borders on the way to a promised job and citizenship only to be deported at their own expense.  They often find themselves in a much worse position in their original homeland than when they began their journey.

It’s not difficult to engage the services of a law firm that specializes in immigration law.  Consultations are often free or available at a nominal cost and the attorneys will educate their client on exactly what steps they need to take to successfully immigrate.  They will know their limitations, which forms they will need to fill out and where to submit them.  A good immigration attorney will make citizenship much easier and less costly.

America has always welcomed those who want to call her home.  The path to immigration may be confusing these days but to those who truly want to become citizens, it will be worth it.

Ryan Gilbert is an established writer on Immigration issues. My Visa USA offers first-grade Florida immigration lawyer services as well as Miami immigration attorney services.

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