Trials at the Gate of Ellis Island - 1912

A Young Immigrant Woman Receives Bad News: Telegram from the West, "He is Dead." She Must Go Back.

A Young Immigrant Woman Receives Bad News About Her Husband to Be: Telegram from the West, "He is Dead." She Must Go Back. The Home Missionary, March 1909. GGA Image ID # 149b3c2442

The detention of immigrants in Ellis Island is fraught with many hardships. All the detained bewail their misfortune; hundreds of them are bitter and resentful. The following letter received from one of these unfortunates is representative:

"We are two young men, brothers, who suffer here very much for nothing. I had been in this country for ten years, and last October went to Brussells to see my parents. I brought my brother with me to put him in an American school.

The immigration authorities excluded us. After three days they called us and they said we could stay if we appealed to the Commissioner. We wrote an appeal, but after he put us in jail between 300 and 400 men we did not hear from him since [twelve days later].

We stay in the same place until now helpless. They feed us poorly and sleep on beds which even those who committed crimes don't use. Living under such circumstances, we become sick both of us.

We wish to go back or to be let free, otherwise we sure will lose our health forever." We have heard some thing of the crowded condition of Ellis Island, but the half has not been told.

A recent immigrant says : " Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island are crowded in pens by day and at night sleep on iron shelves."

Ellis Island Accommodations

Accommodations on the Island have been en larged, but they are still inadequate when the immigration in flow is high. If in one day twenty-three hundred souls are detained and packed into the detention rooms, we are safe in saying that no part of New York City is more congested than the rooms these occupy on Ellis Island.[1]

This is not due to the men in charge of the station; it is an inevitable condition because of the want of adequate space to meet the need. The accommodations furnished are limited. When the number of the detained passes beyond a thousand, there is congestion and consequent suffering.

The air in the room where three hundred men are kept is foul and sickening. The government has tried to remedy this by installing suction fans, but the effort is not successful.

When hundreds of persons breathe continuously in the same room, a very effectual system of ventilation must be installed to keep the air sweet. Proper ventilation is as much the letting in of fresh as it is the removing of foul air, and the appliances to do this are wanting in the construction of the detention quarters on the Island.

The present Immigration Commissioner, as well as his predecessors, is doing the best he can with the equipment at his command; and before he or any other man can provide adequate accommodations to the detained, when immigration brings more than 100,000 per month,

Congress must be more liberal in its appropriations, so that the necessary additions and improvements may be made.[2]

An Immigrant Family Comes to America to Find Father.

An Immigrant Family Comes to America to Find Father. The father ran away to America and married another woman, and a former husband turns up unexpectedly. The family must go back, and the difficulty cleared in the home country. The Home Missionary, March 1909. GGA Image ID # 149b4d9f1f

Personal Cleanliness

Every time one visits the detention rooms, he feels that a system of enforced personal cleanliness, such as is carried on in the Municipal Lodging House, would be a blessing.

Bathing facilities are furnished the detained, but very few avail themselves of them. All classes and conditions of steerage passengers are herded together in one room — the men in the room to the east, women and children in that to the west.

The garments they wear are those they wore on the voyage, and that peculiar, reeking stench of steerage compartments still clings to them. There are accommodations furnished to wash clothes, but few of the immigrants have with them a change of apparel, so that it is impossible for them to put on clean garments.

The men do not undress as they retire for the night — all they do is to remove their shoes, after the custom of southeastern peoples. When crowding occurs, the same room is occupied day and night.

The combination of odors of twenty different nations is demoralizing, and the effect upon the weak and nervous is serious. Men are detained in these rooms from ten days to as many weeks.

Most of them have not the faintest idea as to the value of personal cleanliness, or the necessity of a change of garments, or the need of keeping the room clean.

The installation of a system of compulsory bathing, provision for a change of garments, and a more thor ough cleansing and disinfecting of their clothes would impress these thousands with the idea that America stands for cleanli ness in person and garment.

The Betrayed Polish Girl Who Came to Find Her Lover, Is Detained at Ellis Island Pending the Outcome of the Inquiry.

The Betrayed Polish Girl Who Came to Find Her Lover, Is Detained at Ellis Island Pending the Outcome of the Inquiry. The Home Missionary, March 1909. GGA Image ID # 149b8cc9db

Bitter Complaints

Of all the detained, the men from northwestern Europe are loudest and bitterest in their com plaints. A young English artist, who was in straitened cir cumstances, arrived and was detained for a week under the Contract Labor Law.

His lot was cast in one large room among hundreds of foreign-speaking men of varied ranks and condi tions. It was all he could do to stand this confinement without getting sick.

His question was: " Is this the reception America gives Englishmen — to be imprisoned with unwashed foreigners in a room where the air is foul and sickening ? When at evening they take off their shoes, it's almost beyond endurance. I stand by the window, and spend most of the night out of the berth."

I remember a woman, well-dressed and respectable, crying bitterly because she was detained. She protested most vigor ously to " being put in the same room with Italians, Jews, etc., to sleep with them and to eat at the same table ; why could she not go to New York City? She had taken care of herself in London and Melbourne, and was able to do so here."

Scores of English-speaking people thus detained protest vehemently against the promiscuous mingling of races. Scandinavians and Germans also complain. The standards of northwestern Europeans differ widely from those of southeastern Europeans, and they will not dwell amicably together.

If ample room were provided, a segregration according to similarity of tastes might be possible.[3]

Detention at best is irksome, and immi grants having pride of race highly developed will complain ; but it is important that the quarters wherein they are detained — be their race whatever it will — should not be a menace to health.

Deportation for Trivial Causes

The work of deportation is accompanied by many hardships.

Some men are turned back for very trivial causes. Four Greeks came from Patras, a distance of more than 4500 miles, and their destination was Canada. The law of that country demands that each immigrant going to a city in the Dominion must have $25 over and above transportation to destination. Each of these men had $24.37, and the four were rejected.

A score of men, learning of their difficulty, would have gladly supplied the deficiency, but no, they could not enter. It was suggested that they apply for entrance into the United States, and one of the officials was consulted. His reply was : "We don't take Canada's rejected."

The men were deported for want of the sixty-three cents each, although they were admissible in every other respect. The law of the United States does not specify any special sum which the immigrant must have; but those who have little money and no friends are deported — the plea advanced is, that they are liable to become public charges, and have no visible means of subsistence.

Immigrants who only lack money are sent to the temporary de tained rooms. If they can find a relative who can become their security, or who will advance them a reasonable sum of money, they will be admitted.

A young Pole, eighteen years of age, who wanted to go to his brother in Weston, Pa., was detained for the want of money. He was a fine-looking man, and would land if he had some cash. Many persons were anxious to help him, but there were four Westons in Pennsylvania, and the question was, to which of these is he destined?

Four letters were written, one to each of the four Westons. Six days passed by and no reply was received. The representative of the Government Employment Bureau visited the room and offered the young man work. He demurred, and said he wanted to go to his brother.

On the seventh day he was removed to the deportation room to be sent back to Europe. That day word was received from his brother, and the young man was saved, just in the nick of time, from deportation.

Women and Childing Passing the Time in the Detention Pen in the Cool and Airy Roof Garden at Ellis Island.

Women and Childing Passing the Time in the Detention Pen in the Cool and Airy Roof Garden at Ellis Island. Leslie's Weekly, 24 October 1907. GGA Image ID # 14d62dae0b

Mistakes of Others

Some men are detained because of the mistakes of others. A young immigrant, who had $30 in his possession, entrusted it to the purser of the ship in which he came. The officer forgot to return the money, and the man was detained on the charge "no money."

His story was be lieved by one of the missionary agents on the Island, and the case was taken up with the captain of the steamship. The facts as stated by the man were true, the cash returned, and the immigrant landed.

Another young man was one day found in great distress. He had $20 in foreign money, which he gave to a friend to change for him. The one was going to New York and the other to Chicago.

They were separated, and the distressed young immigrant in the railroad room realized his plight — penniless and a thousand-mile journey before him. Again a missionary agent came to the rescue. He ran to the package boat about to start for the Battery, called out the name of the man, secured the cash, and returned it to its rightful owner.

Another man was threatened with detention because he had lost his railroad ticket. A thorough search was made in the immigrant railroad room, but to no purpose. He was going to Johnstown, and was given the choice of either purchasing another ticket or going back to the detention rooms.

There was no way to help the poor man, and from his scant supply of cash he had to pay $10.50 so that he might continue his journey. A Bulgarian was found in the detention room for the reason that, in his confusion when before the inspector, he could not tell where he was going.[4]

A missionary sat with him a little while, and soon the address was found. The case was explained to the proper authority, and the man was landed. Three men were found in the temporary detained quarters, because they did not have their medical cards.

The ship officials had neglected to give these to them. The cards were procured, but the men lost three days' time through no fault of their own. A young Greek boy was coming to his brother.

The agent who booked him advised the lad to say that he was going to his father. He did so. A telegram was sent to his father, but when the reply came the sender stated that he was not his father, but his brother. The boy was deported on the ground of moral turpitude.

Some are Robbed

Sometimes an immigrant is robbed of all his money on the voyage. A young man had 200 francs stolen from him on board. He was detained for the want of money. He immediately communicated with his relatives, and after three days' delay was on his way to his brother.

The most touching cases are those of mothers, with little children, waiting word from their husbands inland, so that they may proceed. One of these, a Swedish mother and four children, lost her money and the trunk in which the children's clothes were kept — all the garments the little ones possessed were gone, and a long journey to the northwest awaited them.

The mother was helpless and in great distress, but the matron on the Island, together with missionaries, came to her aid. Proper clothing was secured, and kind-hearted friends contributed sufficient money to enable her to continue the journey.

Trying to Escape

Immigrants are generally willing to do all in their power to get off the Island. It is called the "prison," and many are the tears shed by those who have no hope.

The officials on the Island tell of a Russian who made a dash for liberty. He escaped the vigilance of the guard, plunged into the water, and swam to the Jersey shore. He was captured and deported, being afflicted with a disease which debarred his landing.

Once on the Island, the chances of escape are few. Each must pass the examination prescribed by the government, and many are the friends who are divided. Two bosom friends may cross the ocean; the one lands and the other is debarred. This is touching at all times, but when one child in a family cannot enter, and all the members are hoping against hope — then heart-rending cases occur.

A Sad Case

A sad case was that of a woman with two children from the Barbadoes. She was detained for the- reason that her husband did not accompany her. Before she could be deported, her two children were taken to the hospital with diphtheria, and for six weeks they were under the care of physi cians.

They were discharged, and mother and children were ready to leave. Before they started, however, the children came down again with scarlet fever, and were taken once more to the hospital.

One of the little ones died, and after another six weeks the other was discharged. Again they prepared to sail, but before the boat started the mother was taken to the hospital, and there gave birth to a child.

When she was discharged, the husband wired that he was on his way, so she and her children waited his coming. He took his wife and children from Ellis Island, where they had lived five months.

A Runaway Italian Mother and Two Girls. The Home Missionary, March 1909.

A Runaway Italian Mother and Two Girls. The Home Missionary, March 1909. GGA Image ID # 149af4321d

Mothers Suffer

When a child is taken down with a con tagious disease, and removed to the special hospital for these cases, the mother endures a trying ordeal.

She cannot go to the child, she cannot give him a drink of cold water, she cannot say a cheering word to the child of her bosom — all she can do is to wait, and wait, and wait, and the hours are long, and the days pass so slowly.

One of these mothers, on her way to join her husband in Minnesota, waited for two months for the re turn of her child ; at last he came, and both mother and child joined the father. But when they don't come back, and the weeping mother has to go without the child of her love — then the heart alone knows its bitterness.

Peasant Family from Romania in Detention on Ellis Island. nd.

Peasant Family from Romania in Detention on Ellis Island. nd. National Park Service # 657B97D8. GGA Image ID # 149036c9db

A Family Divided

To see a family divided is a sight few want to witness. Almost every mother with children crossing the ocean does so to join her husband. One of these came with four children, one of whom was pronounced mentally weak and could not enter.

The mother and the other three were phys ically sound, but deportation was the lot of the youngest child. What would she do, go to her husband in the West, or return to her native country with her child? She chose the former.

When the hour of parting came, it was pitiful to see the mother clinging to that little weak one, whom she consigned to a friend to take back to her mother, who would watch over him.

Another touching case was that of a little crippled girl who came to join her family in America. She was told that she could not land. Her father and mother, brothers and sisters, were here; she would be so glad to go to them. The case was taken to Washington, and the humane feeling of the Secretary of Commerce and Labor did the right thing — the girl was landed after a delay of three weeks.

Some Fraud Practiced

Sometimes persons refused admission at one port will try another. Ellis Island has the reputation of having a more rigid examination than any other port on the continent. The personal factor in the enforcement of the law counts for a great deal.

A lady who applied for admission as a steerage passenger in Ellis Island was detained and deported because of a tuberculous condition of the glands of the neck. As soon as she reached the port of embarkation, she took passage, as a cabin passenger, in another ship, destined for another port, and was landed without any difficulty.

While visiting Canada the following advertisement fell into my hand : "For a couple of dollars you can insure your furniture for three years. Agent for the Mutual Life Insurance Company at New York. Issue certificate of marriage, license, citizen papers.

Make all kinds of legal papers, passports, give permits for old or crippled people to be allowed to land in Canada. Give papers to get into the States so you will not have to pay the $4. Can do almost anything you need done and not charge you too much."

It is a difficult task to guard 18,000 miles of coast line so that speculators will not take their chances to land men who cannot otherwise enter. Of course these persons are often put to considerable trouble and expense.

A friend of mine living in a small town in Vermont said that the Chinamen in the laundry there changed very often. It is well known that no group of immigrants are more capable of making their way in the States than the Chinese, although it costs them large sums of money to open the gates.

I met a stowaway in the detention rooms in Ellis Island who came from Cuba. He was to be deported, but he said : "Back to the States I come again." More than 15,000 seamen made good their entrance into the country last year; the traffic still goes on, for it is one of the most difficult to be dealt with by law.[5]

Final Discharge From Ellis Island

Final Discharge From Ellis Island—the Emigrant Showing Passport, Money, and Answering Questions With a View to Ascertaining Whether He Is Likely to Become a Charge on the Country, Is Amenable to the Contract Labor Law, Etc. The Maltine Company, Quarantine Sketches, 1902. GGA Image ID # 14ae20fc90

Contract Labor Law

But of all the legal causes of de portation, that of the Contract Labor Law is the most sweeping. Men who come with an assurance of work, or in other words a sure means of subsistence, cannot enter ; if, on the other hand, the authorities see that they have no visible means of support, they are deported.

All men who sympathize with American workers feel that the purpose of this law is worthy, but the means to attain it clumsy and crude. In all the volumes written by the Immigration Commission no saner word is found than the following : " Indeed, it is certain that European immi grants, and particularly those from southern and eastern Europe, are, under a literal construction of the law, for the most part contract laborers, for it is unlikely that many emigrants embark for the United States without a pretty definite knowledge of where they will go and what they will do if admitted."[6]

This law works great hardship to many poor people. If a group of persons come, having the same address, it is presumptive evi dence that they are under contract and should be deported.

Many groups of immigrants from the Balkan States, whence our newer immigration comes, have suffered in consequence of this ruling. A single address is often used by these people because they start from the same town or village, and have been in communication with a friend residing at the point of their destination, who writes from the store or saloon of a countryman, using his stationery.

This address is sometimes written in one handwriting, and on the same kind of paper, for the men themselves are illiterate and cannot write, and the agent from whom they bought their tickets accommodated them in this re spect.

Many cases of violation of the Contract Labor Law have been uncovered, but with thirty-five per cent illiteracy among the men of southeastern Europe, it would hardly seem reasonable to rule that the same address, in the same handwriting, presented by ten men, is evidence enough to debar them.

Scores of Bulgarian and Macedonian peasants have been deported upon this plea. The authorities believed they violated the Contract Labor Law; but is not their innocency in presenting the same address, presumptive evidence that there was no collusion on their part to defeat the spirit or the letter of the law?

All the deported are poor, they spend money and time crossing the seas, they are detained for days and weeks in Ellis Island, and deportation is a great hardship.

The chances are that the loss each man sustains will impoverish him for life — the savings of years are lost by men who did not know enough to get separate addresses. It would have been great kindness to them if they had been saved the trip across the sea and the anxiety of de tention.

Men bent on collusion devise schemes which are not as easily detected as is similarity of addresses. Is not the reasoning equally good, that any immigrant having an address is prima facie evidence that he has a job in sight?

Immigrants come in answer to America's call for workers, and every letter that contains a steamship ticket, or money to secure one, con tains also an implied or expressed assurance that work awaits the incoming party.

A Broad Net

The words "induce or solicit to migrate to this country by offers or promises of employment or in conse quence of agreements, oral, written or printed," give a wide margin to the inspectors and the boards of special inquiry.

A young Englishman, who had a friend in New York City, came as a steerage passenger. He was very anxious to enter, and, fearing deportation because he had no assurance of work, he answered the question: "Do you have any work in view?" by saying, "Yes, my friend said I could get a job."

It cost him a week in the detention room, and his friend spent two days coming to the Island, to testify before the board that he was not an employer of labor, that he had no work for the immigrant, but that he was willling to help him to find a job.

A Bearded Immigrant Appearing Before a Board of Inquiry at Ellis Island.

A Bearded Immigrant Appearing Before a Board of Inquiry at Ellis Island. The Board of Inquiry Determines If a Prospective Immigrant Can Remain in the Country. Photograph by Edwin Levick ca 1907. NYPL # 1693106. GGA Image ID # 14f49b3580

The Board of Inquiry

The immigrant, when he appears before the board of special inquiry, must stand alone; he can not get an advocate, and the examination is conducted behind closed doors. Most immigrants, when summoned before the board, are so confused and excited that they prejudice their case.

In Canada, a young man, appearing before the medical examiner, became so nervous that he actually collapsed. He was taken to the hospital, and within a week, under the fatherly care of the physician, was in good shape and admitted.

But under conditions in Ellis Island, when the detention rooms are crowded, what chance has a sensitive and highly strung young man to make a favorable impression on a board that is laboring under the impression that a certain percentage ought to be deported?[7]

These men on the boards of special inquiry are very human. They have their prejudices and their dislikes, as all other men have. Two of the three members decide a case, but the third occasionally serves the immigrant well by giving the suggestion :

" If he appeals, his chances are good to be ad mitted." The personal factor plays an important part in de portation. The laws regulating the admission of immigrants were exactly the same in 1910-1911 as they were in the previous two years, but the number deported in the former period was a hundred per cent higher than in the latter.

The record of 50,000[8] immigrants sent back in two years (1910-1911) is un precedented in the history of immigration.

The Board of Inquiry. The Men Who Pass Upon the Eligibility of Immigrants to Become Americans.

The Board of Inquiry. The Men Who Pass Upon the Eligibility of Immigrants to Become Americans. Metropolitan Magazine, February 1899. GGA Image ID # 14c0091008

No Lawyer Allowed

Of course it is un-American to de prive a man of liberty and happiness without due process of law ; but that is done on Ellis Island every time a special inquiry case is tried and the defendant is forced to be his own advo cate.

Alone, in secret session, he must stand trial. No Ameri can would be thus treated, and yet our Declaration of Inde pendence affirms that all men are equal,— a fundamental fact in our democracy that is belied every time an immigrant is subjected to this process.

He is allowed no advocate, and no friend can appear save at the summons of the board. The character of the boards is well set forth in the words of the Immigration Commission :

"At all the important ports the boards of special inquiry are composed of immigrant inspectors, who are generally without judicial or legal training. This, together with the fact that they are selected by the commissioners of immigration at the ports where they serve, tends to impair the judicial character of the board and to influence its members in a greater or less degree to reflect in their decisions the at titude of the commissioner in determining the cases.

The character of their decisions is indicated somewhat by the fact that nearly fifty per cent of the cases appealed are reversed by the Secretary of Commerce and Labor, whose decision, under the law, must be based solely upon the evidence adduced before the board.

This record of reversals on appeal suggests that their decisions which are not reviewed may be equally wrong."

In justice to the immigrant, and to the country as well, the character of these boards should be improved. They should be composed of men whose ability and training fit them for the judicial functions performed, and the provision compelling their hearings to be separate and apart from the public should be repealed."[9]

Children of All Nations on the Ellis Island Roof Garden.

Children of All Nations on the Ellis Island Roof Garden. Many of the poor little boys and girls who arrive at Ellis Island do not know how American kiddies play. Still, the roof-garden romps one may see every good day show that they are apt at learning. Photograph by Frederic C. Howe. The National Geographic Magazine, February 1917. GGA Image ID # 14cd671675

Traffic in Boys

The traffic in boys — especially Greek boys — in recent years has given the boards some of the most perplexing and trying cases to decide. To find out the truth of this underground traffic is most difficult.

The immigrant is carefully trained, the subtle brain that plans the collusion hides behind the screen, and the inspectors cannot detect the fraud, although fairly well convinced that it is there, if they could only go a little deeper. I saw six Greek boys in Ellis Island, all under fourteen years of age, who said they came to their fathers.

The six were detained, and brought before the board of special inquiry. For curiosity' sake I took the ad dress of two of these boys in order to see the shelter the fathers had to offer the lads. The men lived in wretched quarters in the tenement district of New York City.

The board decided that it was not good for lads, at so tender an age, to leave their mothers, come to a strange country, and be consigned to their fathers. They needed their mothers, and back to them they must go. The judgment was a beneficent one.

Three Women on Bench Held at Ellis Island

Three Women on Bench Held at Ellis Island--Undesirable Emigrants to Be Taken Back by Steamship Company That Brought Them. c1902. Library of Congress # 93512789. GGA Image ID # 13ebcabf56

Difficult Cases

The boards have no sinecure. Some difficult cases are brought which exact the greatest acumen and patience at their command. Cases of prostitutes are about as hard as any.

I saw a girl, apparently all right in every respect, in tears because she was detained. She had no friend or relative to whom to go. She was twenty-five years of age and quick-witted. The authorities consigned her to the care of one of the missionaries stationed on the Island. She stayed in the missionary home for a couple of weeks, and then left.

The missionary was responsible to the Commissioner, and kept track of her charge. A month had not passed before ample evidence was secured to deport her. When the authorities are suspi cious of young women who come in, they follow the cases, and the arm of the government is a long one.

In one instance it reached clear across the continent, and finally deported two demimondes of whom the detective said : " There was no trick they did not know," but it took six months' silent hunt to se cure evidence.

Men's Ward — in the New Hospital Building at Ellis Island.

Men's Ward — in the New Hospital Building at Ellis Island. The Maltine Company, Quarantine Sketches, 1902. GGA Image ID # 14adb8a33e

The Hospital a Blessing

The hospital service on Ellis Island is a Godsend to many. No matter what disease attacks the immigrant, he is treated, without money and without price.

Some very sad cases are recorded. Many treatments are highly complimentary to the skill and knowledge of the men in charge. A Scotchman, doubled up with pain, was taken to the hospital. The attack came on suddenly while the man was waiting for the train.

He had left a wife and bairns in Scotland, and was very solicitous about them. We wrote letters for him to the wife, and every time the poor fellow thought of his plight and his beloved ones across the sea, he could hardly control his feeling.

When the day of dismissal came, and he was able to continue his journey, the gratitude he manifested for the kindness he had received was beautiful. He could not find language strong enough to show his appreciation of how America had treated him.

This case is typical. Patients treated and healed, when they land, are thankful for the Christian kindness and treatment they have received in this institution. A foreign-speaking man who had some chest trouble was under the care of the physicians for some weeks.

The case was a complicated one, and a surgical operation required. The man got well, and was landed. To see his gratitude and the expression of thankfulness on his face was the best deliverance one could ever witness on the blessing of practical philanthropy.

The hospital is rendering services of the highest order to immi grants, and we are safe in stating that all who leave it are favor ably impressed with America.

Examining Eyes on the Line at Ellis Island.

Examining Eyes on the Line at Ellis Island. The Popular Science Monthly, January 1913. GGA Image ID # 14e304831a

Ellis Island Interesting

There is no place more interesting in New York City than Ellis Island, and the machinery is ad mirably adapted to do the work in hand. There are many hardships incident to the enforcement of the laws, but in the nature of the case it cannot be otherwise. It is a " Babelmandel " — a gate of tears — to many.

There are also some humorous cases. Deputy Hurley, of Boston, tells of the ar rival of a young woman who was detained because of an affection of the eyes. A young Jew secured a pass to see her, and then busied himself in trying to secure her admission.

After the first few days' vain effort, he asked permission to bring in a friend to see her. The request was promptly granted. The friend came, tarried awhile, and left. No sooner was he gone than the young Hebrew appealed to the Commissioner to allow his wife to land.

The friend he brought was a Rabbi, who per formed the matrimonial ceremony, and the young man, being a citizen of the United States, had a right to land his wife, and the Commissioner was helpless to refuse his appeal.

Kindness Pays

The trials at the gate are many ; some are unavoidable because of the enforcement of the law, others are avoidable if the necessities of all immigrants are met. A fair trial by competent men ought to be given each of the detained.

The first impression made upon the immigrant is lasting; if it is unfavorable, the effect upon the nation is far reaching, and it develops to be a source of mischief in industrial and social relations; if it is favorable, a million hearts will be predis posed to friendliness and sympathy with all that is American.

On no other occasion in the life of the immigrant will the United States government have as favorable an opportunity to in fluence him for good as when he lands.

He is receptive and ambitious to please. He asks for bread ; we should not give him a stone. Money spent in giving him as just and generous a reception as possible is well spent ; it is seed planted that will ripen to good citizenship and bring forth a hundredfold in coming years.

End Notes

1 "Frequently there are as many as 1800 or 2000, and yet there are on Ellis Island not over 1800 beds, almost all in tiers of three each. In the largest men's dormitory the beds number 432, and the width of the passageway between each line of tiers is only 2 feet.

When all the beds are occupied, as frequently they are, the congestion in this room is very great, and since it has only an easterly ex posure the temperature on summer nights may be 100°.

"In addition the ventilation is very imperfect. Unfortunately it is necessary to use it also as a day room, though being encumbered with beds it is obviously in appropriate for this purpose. It is often necessary to detain occupants of this room a week, especially those who are excluded, since the lines bringing them usually send out their steamers only once a week. The conditions in the other large dormitories are not unlike those just described." — Pages 4-5, Annual Report of the Commissioner of Immigration for the Port of New York.

2 Hon. William Williams, Commissioner of Immigration at Ellis Island, has asked Congress for an appropriation of $788,000 for improvements necessary for efficient service in Ellis Island. See Annual Report, 1911.

3 "It is also to be remembered that the habits of some immigrants are cleanly, of others filthy. The two kinds object seriously to detention in the same room, and those of cleanly habits often say unpleasant things of the others, yet we are unable, for lack of space, to separate them as they should be separated." — Pages 4-5, Annual Report of the Commissioner of Immigration for the Port of New York.

4 All immigrants must have an address or destination, and of the new immigra tion 97 per cent of the total admitted were destined to relatives and friends, and of the old immigration 89.4 per cent. — " Emigration Conditions in Europe," p. 30.

5 See abstract report on "Alien Seamen and Stowaways," by Immigration Com mission.

6 "Emigration Conditions in Europe," p. 31, by Immigration Commission.

7 "The time has come when it is necessary to put aside false sentimentality in dealing with the question of immigration and to give more consideration to its racial and economic aspects and, in determining what additional immigrants we shall receive, to remember that our first duty is to our country." — Page 16, Annual Report of the Commissioner of Immigration for the Port of New York. The fact that the members of the board of special inquiry are selected by the port commissioner tends' to " influence its members in a greater or less degree to reflect in their decisions the attitude of the commissioner in determining the cases." — Immigration Commission : "Conclusions and Recommendations," p. 24.

8 See note in addenda on " Debarred and Deported."

9 See " Conclusions and Recommendations," p. 24, by Immigration Commission.

Peter Roberts, Ph.D., The New Immigration: A Study of the Industrial and Social Life of Souteastern Europeans in America, Part I: Inducements and Impressions, Chapter II: The Trials at the Gate, New York: The MacMillan Company, 1912, pp. 18-32

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