Um, What? Beto Compares Illegal Aliens In El Paso To Legal Immigrants At Ellis Island

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Posted: Jul 22, 2019 9:55 PM
Um, What? Beto Compares Illegal Aliens In El Paso To Legal Immigrants At Ellis Island

Source: AP Photo/Kathy Willens

2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke on Monday said he believes El Paso, Texas "could be the Ellis Island of today" because of the number of illegal aliens who flock to the border town.

"Where I live in El Paso, Texas could be the Ellis Island of today. Perhaps millions of people who become Americans coming from Mexico and El Salvador and the Western Hemisphere first step foot in the United States in my hometown," Beto said on ABC News' "The Briefing Room." "Though we're about 2,000 miles apart, El Paso and New York, we're connected in that common story of America."

Just because millions of immigrants passed through Ellis Island and millions more pass through El Paso doesn't mean that the two locations and their history are the same.

When Ellis Island was open and operating, there weren't very many immigration laws. People arrived in New York by boat and were processed in a few hours, the History Channel reported. Passports and paperwork weren't all that common.

The Immigration Act of 1882 established an immigration tax on non-citizens and restricted who immigrated . The Immigration Act of 1924 established a "quota system," that allowed two percent of each nation's population immigrate to America. It did, however, exclude Asian countries. 

The immigration laws were far more lax than they are now. People can't just show up on a boat and call America home. They have to apply and wait to be approved. There's an established process to vet those who want to immigrate.  

Those who illegally cross our border into the United States aren't following immigration laws. They're coming to our nation, without permission. They're sneaking here. They're breaking the law. They're not going through the proper channels. 

Ellis Island is symbolic because it represents the struggle that immigrants had but it's also indicative of the legal immigration process. And comparing the two cities really discredits the hard work today's legal immigrants have to put in and the amount of money they have to spend.