From the earliest times in the United States history, immigrants that have come to the United States have often faced nativism and discrimination. Immigrants in the early 1900's faced many problems. .
We have welcomed immigrants in times of expansion and optimism and despised them in periods of decline. America reacted to the immigrants in different ways. During the Progressive Era, settlement house workers like Lillian Wald and Jane Addams operated centers in neighborhoods to help teach newcomers domestic and civic lessons and help them adjust to the United States. Other Americans were less supportive. Fearing the newcomers would destroy American institutions or take away land and jobs from those already in the United States, many tried to restrict the rights of immigrants as well as the numbers entering the country. Being an immigrant was hard. It was hard to find jobs and sometimes they didn't understand the language.
Many early immigrants came mostly from western and northern Europe. After1890 more immigrants came from southern and eastern Europe. Natives were very hostile toward Asian immigrants. In 1882 Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, stopping entry of most Chinese immigrants into the United States. More immigration laws were passed in 1875, 1882, and 1892. One law stated arriving immigrants had to have a physical examination. Another law would not let immigrants that were insane, mentally handicap, sick with a disease, or convicts come into America, because they didn't want anyone becoming dependent on public financial assistance. In 1891 Congress created the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to pass laws on the admission, exclusion, and deportation of immigrants and to help with naturalization. In 1892 the INS opened a station at Ellis Island for immigrants. About 12 million immigrants came to the United States through the Ellis Island station, which closed in 1954.