The Customs Bureau had attempted, and failed, to enforce the earliest immigration laws, leading Congress to authorize and fund a dedicated immigration bureau. This new agency was responsible both for processing legal immigrants and enforcing immigration restrictions. Because immigration was then regarded as an aspect of international trade, the Bureau was initially housed in the Department of the Treasury but soon moved to Commerce and Labor, reflecting the many critical aspects of the U.S. economy affected by immigrants as workers and agents of trade and business. The Immigration Bureau coordinated stations throughout the United States, which handled many different aspects of immigration due to their varied locations, the composition of arriving travelers, and how national laws affected local conditions. Ellis Island remains the most famous immigration station, characterized by the welcome offered by the Statue of Liberty and Emma Lazarus’ famous poem, but cities such as El Paso, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Baltimore, New Orleans, Portland, and Galveston all processed and detained migrants.
CHAP. 551.-An act in amendment to the various acts relative to immigration and the importation of aliens under contract or agreement to perform labor.
SEC. 7. That the office of superintendent of immigration is hereby Superintendent of created and established, and the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, is authorized and directed to appoint such officer, whose salary shall be four thousand dollars per annum, payable monthly. The superintendent of immigration shall be an officer in the Treasury Department, under the control and supervision of the Secretary of the Treasury, to whom he shall make annual reports in writing of the transactions of his office, together with such special reports, in writing, as the Secretary of the Treasury shall require. The Secretary shall provide the superintendent with a suitable furnished office in the city of Washington, and with such books of record and facilities for the discharge of the duties of his office as may be necessary. He shall have a chief clerk, at a salary of two thousand dollars per annum, and two first-class clerks.
Approved, March 3, 1891