Yesterday I had the privilege of going to Ellis Island in New York City, the entry point for over 12 million immigrants to the US from 1892 to 1954. It was an awesome experience for me to stand in the Registry Room where every newcomer packed in with nervous excitement and fear. They waited to be questioned, examined and deemed worthy or unworthy of entrance to a new life in the US. From the displays in the museum, the process seemed rough. My great grandparents stood in line to be check to make sure they were fit to come into the US. Thankfully, they passed the tests, along with 98% of the immigrants that entered Ellis Island during those times.
The trip here would have been the worst part, but after that, the process took days in normal circumstances and weeks if the person was sick or otherwise questionable. The policies were tough and unfair at times (people with disabilities weren't allowed entrance). However, this is nothing compared to what immigrants to the US face now. I can't even begin to understand the sacrifice that people go through to taste the opportunity for a better life here in the US. Even the brothers and sisters of US citizens are waiting up to 10 years for a visa!