In an interview with C.M. Rubin (Founder of CMRubinWorld), US historian and acclaimed author Vincent Cannato says that while “America was multicultural long before ‘multiculturalism’ was fashionable,” the history of Ellis Island “represents America’s attempt to regulate who could and could not come through this country.” Cannato says that “Race always has played a role in American society” and that “every immigrant group had attached to them some negative trope.”

Cannato also notes that virtually all the current discussion about immigration “deals with those who are here illegally or who are ‘undocumented.’ Attempts at restricting legal immigration have gone nowhere.” The U.S. continues to admit around one million legal immigrants each year. Historically “there has been a bias in favor of those who could take care of themselves and a bias against those it was believed could not and therefore would become public charges. Today we tend to favor immigrants who have direct relatives already in the U.S. — that is a modern way that we define ‘desirability’.”

The Pew Research Center projects that by 2050, more than one-third of US schoolchildren “younger than 17 will either be immigrants themselves or the children of at least one parent who is an immigrant.”