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The United States is a nation of Immigrants For centuries people havecome to the US in search of prosperity freedom and financialsuccess By definition of the Microsoft Bookshelf Encyclopedia animmigrant is a person who leaves one country to settle permanently inanother country or region to which one is not native People immigratefor different reasons -- A group of people may immigrate to anothercountry because of some conditions which make it difficult for them tolive in their home environment According to Microsoft BookshelfEncyclopedia the reason for immigration is often social for examplepopulation increases defeat in war desire for a better life throughmaterial gain and the search for religious or political freedom Thesereasons have usually prompted many more immigrants to the US thannatural causes have The website of the Federation for AmericanImmigration Reform explains how the first great wave of immigrants cameto the US In the early 19th century large numbers of people fromWestern Europe left their countries to escape poverty Many of theimmigrants also came to escape religious persecution and politicaloppression By the end of the 19th century the majority of theimmigrants were from Southern and Eastern Europe After 1921immigration declined due to new and better conditions in Europe and tolimitations established by the US government The first law waspassed by the United States Congress in 1862 restricted immigration tothe US This law forbade American vessels to transport Chineseimmigrants to the United States Later in the 1800s the USCongress passed acts which prevented convicts polygamists prostitutesand persons suffering from contagious diseases to enter the US In1917 Congress passed an immigration law that required a literacy testAliens unable to meet minimum mental moral physical and economicstandards were excluded form the US as well In 1921 acongressional enactment created a quota system for immigrants by whichthe number of aliens of any nationality admitted to the United Statesin a year could not exceed three percent of the number of foreign-bornresidents of that nationality living in the United States It
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