When immigrants reached the New York City harbour they were forcibly routed to Ellis Island where they underwent a long and strict screening. Many immigrants were rejected and had to return to their homelands as a result of immigration laws. The reasons for rejection were many: health and hygiene (e.g. trachoma) extreme poverty, age (too young or too old), family status (widows and orphans with no-one to care for them in the USA). In 1917 the long (for more than twenty years) promised and announced Literacy Act (Immigation Act 1917) was passed. This immigration law, featuring a ban on illiterate immigrants, seriously reduced immigration and meant rejection for many Italian immigrants, especially those coming from Southern Italy regions.
Further restrictions on immigrations came into force with the enactment of 1921 and 1924 Quota Acts that set very small annual “quotas” of immigrants allowed in the country according to ethnicity.