I’ve gotten a little tired of reading self-righteous letters to the editor from people bragging about how their ancestors were legal immigrants. Unlike the majority of immigrants today, their ancestors were from Europe. (Of course, African slaves came to this country as legal immigrants since slavery was still legal for several hundred years, but it makes a lot of people uncomfortable to talk about that.)
The fact of the matter is that there were virtually no restrictions on European immigration until the 20th century. If you came over on a ship that landed in New York, you might have to be cleared through Ellis Island for public health purposes, but no law stopped people from entering the USA unless they happened to be Asian or some other undesirable type.
The quota laws favored mostly northern and western Europeans when those laws went into effect in the 1920s. It’s arguable that immigration law in the United States has been a mess from Day One. Rather than complaining about the newest wave of immigrants to these shores, it’s time for Congress to pass some comprehensive immigration reform that will meet the needs of the 21st century.
Floyd Whitney, Chapel Hill