Tina Griego asks in today's Rocky Mountain News, "How do you know your ancestors came here legally?" Her answer—informed by a discussion with Immigration History Research Center director Donna Gabaccia—is, "Sometimes you can't."
She told me that almost all people who came here from the Russian empire may have entered legally, but they left illegally, violating their home country's laws. So did German and Italian men fleeing the draft. Fraud was rampant in the early 20th century. People came through Mexico. They jumped ship. An immigration attorney recently told me of meeting a lawyer whose early practice was almost entirely made up of Greek ship jumpers. [Link]