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An immigrant is a person who comes from one country to another to make his or her home. For example, the floods of Europeans coming to America during the 19th century were known as immigrants. The words immigrant and emigrant are easily confused. An immigrant refers to one coming into a country or region, whereas an emigrant refers to a person leaving a country or region, so the word used depends upon which shore you stand. Both words relate to the term migrate, which implies the movement of large numbers of people over distances.

Identifying and tracking immigrant ancestors is a common focus in genealogy. Throughout history, for various reasons, large numbers of people have become immigrants in a new country. To understand what immigration records are available in your area of interest, it's important to study the country's history and the historical context of your ancestor.

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