If, as I have long suspected, Temperence (Baley) Cocke was the daughter of Cecely (?) Jordan Farrar, she and her mother are my earlier known ancestors on this side of the Atlantic. Temerence was born in Virgnina ca. 1617 and her supposed and presumed mother Cecely arrived here ca. 1610 or 1611. My latest known immigrant ancestors were Jacob Breitenstein and Margaret Gerber who arrived in Louisiana 24 December 1846.
In the nearly two hundred and fifty intervening years, the rest of my ancestors arrived. by the luck of the law, I will never know if one or more of them would have come as an illegal immigrant. The odds are probably for it. The concept didn't exist then. It does now. America is still a nation of immigrants. In the 1900s, laws clearly divided immigrants into legal and illegal categories. The first quota system for specific immigrants began in 1921.
In the last thirty-five years my friends, Rajiv, Bina, Yrina, Gerd, Gabi, Marisol, Chas and Andy have immigrated, obtained green cards and citizenship. I admire them for making hard personal choices, and doing this immigration legally, through the incredibly convoluted existing maze of regulations. My gut feeling is that by offering amnesties, as a country we are encouraging behavior we don't want, illegical entry and thereby discouraging the candidates we do want, those who came according to the rules. However, the rules and regulations have grown like topsy and may be approaching the tax code in density and lack of logic.
There ought to be a better way.