In this Oct. 28, 1956 file photo, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Roerich from Bavaria, Germany, look out from the stern of the USNS General Langfitt anchored in New York Harbor carrying 1,267 refugees from Europe. In the background is the Statue of Liberty. The couple plan to settle in Ohio. The American self-image is forever intertwined with the melting pot -- a nation built by immigrants. But America’s immigration history is complicated.
The main registry building on Ellis Island is shown in this 1905 photo. The Supreme Court ruled on May 26, 1998, that Ellis Island is mostly in New Jersey, ordering New York to share bragging rights to the nation's gateway for millions of immigrants. New York can lay claim to only part of the island's 27.5 acres, said the justices in a 6-3 ruling.
This is an undated photo of a group of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island in New York. They are waiting in line to begin immigration proceedings.
U.S. Border Patrol officer Ed Pyeatt, on horseback, leads a group of illegal aliens down the hillside toward waiting vans for the trip to a holding center at the Chula Vista border station in California. According to Pyeatt, a monthly average of 10,000 illegals are captured in this 6-mile stretch of border.
In this April 7, 1949 file photo, three Finnish children write "America" on a chalkboard in a class held for children of immigrants detained at Ellis Island in New York City. They range in ages 3 to 11 years old.
An inmate at the Krome North Service Processing Center is served lunch by a prison employee on March 4, 1985. The prison, located west of Miami, Fla., has been called the "Carribbean Ellis Island." It houses 523 people who were apprehended trying to enter the United States illegally.
Raul de MolinaAP
In this Aug. 14, 1945 file photo, Chinese-Americans on Mott and Pell Streets in New York's Chinatown celebrate the Japanese surrender on V-J Day. In 1868, the U.S. signed a treaty encouraging Chinese migration; 24 years later, the Chinese Exclusion Act turned away immigrants from what was even then the world’s most populous nation.
A group of Hungarian youngsters smile for the photographer aboard the Navy transport Gen. Walker which brought nearly 2,000 Hungarians to New York on Feb.15, 1957. They were a part of the largest group of refugees to arrive in the United States through the Government's sea-lift. After docking, they were transported to Camp Kilmer, N.J., for processing.
In this Aug. 4, 1944 file photo, civilian refugees from occupied Europe arrive at Hoboken, N.J., during World War II. The refugees, who were given sanctuary for the duration of the war, went to Fort Ontario, Oswego, N.Y., where an emergency relief shelter was established. Jewish refugees from Europe were blocked during and after World War II -- first because of fears that they might be German sympathizers, then because of fears that they were Communists.
Steps in getting placed in jobs are outlined to Sodman Dalantinow, one of the Kalmuks, of Mongolian origin, coming to Pennsylvania to live, by State Employment counselor Ruth Griffin, left, while Dalantinow’s wife and two small daughters, Baska, 6, and Zema, 8, listen on Feb. 5, 1952. Dalantinew is one of 600 Kalmuks, first ever to be brought to the United States. They are coming here from displaced persons camps in Germany as the United States is the only country that would permit their immigration.
A group of 208 White Russian Old Believers, who arrived at a farm nearby from Ankara, Turkey, pose for a picture taken by Countess Alexandra L. Tolstoy, left, president of the Tolstoy Foundation that sponsored their resettlement in Bridgeton, N.J., June 6, 1963. The White Russians broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church 300 years ago in a dispute over religious rights.
Alejandro Fierro, right, and three other Mexican farm workers sit under a poster of the Statue of Liberty at the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service office in Denver, Colo., Nov. 11, 1987. Fierro and the others were waiting to begin the application process for amnesty under the landmark Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986. From left are: Jose Duenas-Lopez; Jose Santillano; Carlo Castro-Gutierres and Fierro.
In this Aug. 11, 1951 file photo, U.S. Border Patrol inspectors Fred H. Voight, left, and Gordon MacDonald, right, both from the El Centro U.S. Border Patrol sector headquarters in California, search two Mexican nationals, Pedro Vidal, with bag, and Canuto Garcia, right, shortly after the two men illegally crossed the border from Mexico, west of Calexico, Calif. Mexican laborers try to cross in this area to the United States, to work on the farms of the nearby Imperial Valley.
In this late 1920s file photo, a group of Chinese and Japanese women and children wait to be processed, held in a wire mesh enclosure at the Angel Island Internment barracks in San Francisco Bay, Calif. The Angel Island Immigration Station processed one million immigrants from 1910 to 1940, mostly from China and Japan.