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In the past, it has been people willing to work hard to make a life for themselves. They had to be SPONSORED by a family member, who agreed to provide support for at least five years if the said LEGAL immigrant could not provide for himself.

In addition, you didn't get into the country unless you had a sponsor, or could show sufficient funds to fund yourself for a year - like those who moved west and bought farmsteads and had enough to live on the first year before the first crops came in.

Well, to be technical, this depends a great deal on what part of the past you're talking about.

That certainly wasn't true for the first century of America. During the time of the Founders, the frontier, and Manifest Destiny you didn't have to meet any of the foregoing to get into the country. All you had to do was show up. It wasn't until the late 19th Century that the first restrictions on immigration were imposed. Until then, America was a land that welcomed anyone at all. There's a reason why the engraving on the Statue of Liberty reads the way it does.

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