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Immigration Gateways and Ports of Entry

Page history last edited by Robert W. Maloy 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Ports of Entry Sketch Note by Mae Humprhreville (September 2020)

Topics on the Page



Current Immigration Facts and Asylum in the United States


Historical Ports of Entry


  • Castle Island, New York City


  • Ellis Island, New York City


    • Annie Moore
    • Emma Lazarus


  • Sullivan's Island, South Carolina


  • Angel Island, San Francisco


  • Pelican Island, Galveston


  • Columbia River Quarantine Station


  • The U.S. Mexican Border




Mexican Immigration to the United States


Chinese Immigration to the United States


European Immigration Before the Civil War


Muslim Immigration to the United States


Late 19th Century Immigration to the United States

Image on Wikimedia Commons


Current Facts


QUIZ:  See How Much You Know About Immigration in the United States, Council on Foreign Relations (July 2018)


There are 328 Ports of Entry to the United States.  Link here to locate a Port of Entry in your state



Asylum in the United States


Fact Sheet for Asylum in the United States, American Immigration Council (May 14, 2018)


Asylum in the United States:  A History, Southern Poverty Law Center


The Complicated History of Asylum in America--Explained, The Week (April 28, 2019)






Under current U.S. and international law, anyone who physically steps on U.S. soil is entitled to apply for asylum.

      • Asylum seekers must then pass a "credible fear" interview.


      • Immigration Agents then determine if the person(s) faces "significant possibility of persecution or harm in their home country


      • An immigration court makes the final decision


      • In 2018, 89% passed initial screening; under new Trump Administration rules, only 17% were granted asylum


Castle Garden, New York City (1855-1890)


external image Castle_garden_imigrant_depot-NYC.jpg


America's First Immigration Center. 8 million immigrants passed through the center before the opening of Ellis Island. Records can be searched at this site.

Beginning in 1855, it was the nation's only organized immigration center

Castle Clinton National Monument, National Park Service

Where Immigrants Came Before Ellis Island, New York Historical Society

Before Ellis Island Existed, Castle Garden Welcomed Houdini and Typhoid Mary, from Atlas Obscura (April 7, 2016)

  • Among those who entered where Harry Houdini, Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary), Nikola Tesla, Emma Goldman, Joseph Pulitzer, and Frederich Trumpf (President Donald Trump's grandfather)

Link to Dramatic Event page on the Irish Potato Famine


Ellis Island, New York City (1892-1954)


  • 5000 to 10,000 people a day passed through between 1900 and 1914


external image 220px-Ellis_Island_in_1905.jpg

Ellis Island Immigration Footage 1906


Selected Images of Ellis Island Immigration, 1880-1920, Library of Congress


 Online Resources


From Ellis Island to Orchard Street, an online game set in 1916 from New York City Tenement Museum

Ellis Island Interactive Tour!

Lower East Side Tenement Museum Virtual Tour



Gittel's Journey:  An Ellis Island Story, Leslea Newman.  Illustrated by Amy June Bates

  • Picture book story of a young Jewish girl emigrating from Eastern Europe in the early 1990s



Links to Primary Sources from Ellis Island for students from the Parks Service.

Annie Moore


Statue of Annie Moore, Cobh, Ireland


Statue of Annie Moore, Ireland

Annie Moore: First Immigrant Through Ellis Island, from Ellis Island Foundation. See January 1, 1892, the first immigrant landed on Ellis Island

She is honored by two statutes, one in Cobh, Ireland and the other at Ellis Island.

Story of the First Through Ellis Island Is Rewritten, New York Times (September 14, 2006).

She did come to New York City from Ireland at age 15, but she did not, however, go west to Texas to pursue the American Dream only to meet a tragic death in a streetcar accident at age 46. Instead she had 11 children (only 5 lived to adulthood) and lived a poor immigrant's life on the Lower East Side, dying at age 50.


Annie Moore is memorialized in the song "Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears" by the group Celtic Thunder. Hear the song sung by Ronan Tynan on YouTube


Life of First Ellis Island Immigrant Revealed, NPR (September 15, 2006)


Lesson plan on How People Came to America, part of American History's 'Preparing for the Oath'.


Emma Lazarus


For Information about Emma Lazarus, link to Late 19th Century Immigration to the United States





Sullivan's Island, South Carolina


Sullivan's Island is Known as the Ellis Island of Slavery


Known as the Ellis Island of Slavery

Africans in Carolina, Lowcountry Digital History Initiative

A Port of Entry for Enslaved Africans
40 percent of all enslaved Africans brought to British North America entered here

Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project

  • Identifying all ports of entry for Africans during the 350 years of the Atlantic Slave Trade



Link to Origins of the Atlantic Slave Trade


Primary Sources on The Transatlantic Slave Trade



Angel Island, San Francisco (1910-1940)


Immigration Station, Angel Island, San Francisco Bay


About Angel Island

Known as the Ellis Island of the West

Built to handle influx of European immigrants coming to California through the Panama Canal that never happened; instead majority of immigrants came from China, Japan and other parts of Asia and they were detained for weeks or months at the station

Wong Chung Hong was the first recorded person to enter the country after being admitted and detained at Angel Island.

Native Americans from the Muwekma Ohlone tribe were the first inhabitants of the island


Japanese Immigrants, 1860 to 2008

Discovering Angel Island: The Story Behind the Poems, a lesson plan on realities of immigration through Angel Island.

For more on Angel Island, see United States History II.3 on immigration after the Civil War,

When the "Enemy" Landed at Angel Island, National Archives, Summer 2009

  • Discusses the arrival of non-Asian immigrants at Angel Island during the early 20th century



Link to Dramatic Event page on Chinese Immigration to the United States


Pelican Island, Galveston Texas


Former Immigration Station, Galveston, Texas
Former Immigration Station, Galveston, Texas

Forgotten Gateway: Coming to America through Galveston Island, Houston Museum of Natural Science

Ellis Island on the Gulf: Remembering the Galveston Movement, Houston Public Media


  • Between 1907 and 1915, 10,000 Jewish Immigrants from the Russian Empire passed through the Port of Galveston
    • Fleeing persecution and death in Europe 




Galveston Immigration Database from Galveston Historical Foundation

Records Open Window to Immigration PastHouston Chronicle (April 25, 2015)

The Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900

  • The deadliest natural disaster and hurricane in U.S. history



external image SW_QuarantineOld_5_750px.jpg

Columbia River Quarantine Station, Washington State

Known as the Ellis Island on the Columbia River

Columbia River Quarantine Station at Knappton is Established, May 9, 1899, Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History

Columbia River's Ellis Island: The Story of Knappton Cover, Washington State Library



Link to dramatic event page The 1918 Influenza Pandemic



The US/Mexican Border


Image from Business Insider


The border is 1993 miles long



How Crossing the U.S. Mexico Border Became a Crime


  • For most of American history, immigrants could enter the United States without official permission and not fear criminal prosecution by the federal government


  • That changed with the Immigration Act of 1929




How We Got Here: The Roads We Took to America, Houston Institute for Culture

Link to Mexican Immigration to the United States

5 Facts About Mexico and Immigration to the United States, Pew Research Center (February 11, 2016)


The U.S. border fence near El Paso, Texas

The U.S. border fence near El Paso, Texas
Using Military at the U.S. - Mexican Border, an interesting lesson plan (for older students) from PBS about Esequiel Hernandez, a young man shot down by Marines at the border.


Link to Puerto Rico:  History and Government for information on Puerto Rican Citizenship




Further Reading:
Contemporary Immigrant Gateways in Historical Perspective, focusing on 'settlement trends of immigrants during the periods that bookend the twentieth century, both eras of mass migration', an article by Audrey Singer.

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