They came by the millions.  The numbers were staggering.

In the 90-year period between 1840-1930, 37 Million immigrants came to the United States.  Between 1866-1890, a period of only 24 years, more than 9 Million people emigrated to Amerika.  Labor was scarce and wages relatively high compared to Europe.  Then one of the great migrations in the history of the world took place between 1900 and 1914.  Another 13 Million people immigrated to the USA.

Most immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island.  Between 1892-1954[1], 17 Million immigrants passed through the Port of New York and 12 Million entered through Ellis Island.  More than 100 Million Americans living today can trace their roots to a relative who came via Ellis Island.

All that changed after World War I. American attitudes towards immigration shifted.  The first step required immigrants to prove they could read and write.  A nation built through immigration now became afraid of too many foreigners.  Then in 1921 the first "quota"[2] law based on the concept of "national origin” was passed.  The intent was to exclude the great masses of new immigrants.  Preferences were given to Northern and Western Europeans in a two to one ratio over Southern and Eastern Europeans.  It went into effect June 1921 just four months before Dov Berel, Elka, Leja, and Mowsza arrived.

Why this new law did not exclude them, I do not know.  Perhaps it was because Dov Berel already had been issued his passport in March 1921.  The others did not get their passports until July 20, 1921, four months later.  Visas were obtained yet another week later.

A narrow escape!  Another example of how my family history could have been radically changed.

[1] Ellis Island closed in 1954.

[2] Emergency Quota Act.