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Ellis Island Immigrants to America

Jack E. Kemp

This Independence Day, my thoughts return to a tourist visit I made over decades ago to Ellis Island, the place where new immigrants were examined and processed roughly twenty million immigrants from the late Nineteenth to the early Twentieth Century in New York Harbor.

The most startling thing seen on that visit was the peeling paint of the main building, a problem not based on years of  age but on more recent neglect of the plumbing system. The old pipes had broken and flooded the building before anyone could realize what happened. The Ellis Island museum was then asking American citizens for - and they did receive - voluntary funds to fix the pipes and other structures as well as repaint the water damaged walls.

Ellis Island is, of course, a National Park Museum and if you go to the website http://www.nps.gov/elis/historyculture/people.htm ; you can read about inspectors, doctors, nurses who did a quick check of potential immigrant's paperwork to enter the U.S. and their health condition. Some were quarantined on the Island and would later enter into the United States. Others were sent back to their home country, failing to gain entry to the U.S. because of their poor health for such conditions as tuberculosis. The left keeps screaming about "white privilege" but if you contrast Ellis Island to the Central American illegal immigrants now flooding over the U.S. Southern Border, it is these Central Americans who are being allowed entry and the ability to move around the U.S. in a privileged state, with neither legal paperwork (as was required on Ellis Island) nor being required to pass any health inspection requirement of not having communicable diseases. The Central Americans should now be given the same "privileges" as the European and British Isle immigrants who came to Ellis Island around a century ago.

In the tour, our guide told us a funny story of an Eastern European Jew who was flustered by his meeting with stern looking uniformed immigration inspector. When asked his name, he said in Yiddish, "Shoen Fargessen" which means "(I) already forgot." The immigration inspector, wrote down what he heard - "Sean Ferguson" - and that was the new immigrant's legal name in his new country!

The large Ellis Island complex of inspection stations and employee housing and quarantine hospital facilities was not placed on Governor's Island, which was an actual nearby New York Harbor military base and Civil War prison in the Nineteenth and - in the Twentieth Century, it was a Coast Guard base. There was ample housing space on Governor's Island, but in those days the government felt they should keep immigrants, some of them quite ill, far away from the military base and its housing.

So if someone tells you that you are "old fashioned" to want the sanitary and legal safeguards of the Nineteenth Century, ask them if they think disease conditions, such as those that cause tuberculosis, are operating in an "enlightened, modern" way today or whether they operate very much like they did in earlier times - and would operate in that "outdated" fashion when the children carrying those diseases are given "temporary" asylum and placed in public schools and walk in the shopping malls where their own children congregate. Although some people will make an angry face and walk away, others will listen. Over a decade ago, there was a news story in New York City about a school bus company working for some fancy private schools had hired the lowest cost immigrant drivers, some of whom had tuberculosis. And the children who rode those buses had to be tested for the disease because apparently the disease did not have any regard for the family wealth or political convictions (be it liberal or conservative) of the children involved.

There is a similar immigration center on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, now a museum, a place ofter referred to informally as "The Ellis Island of the West Coast." The immigrants arriving there between 1910 and 1940 were largely from Asia (mostly China). And they  were processed in the same manner as those on Ellis Island in a center with its own hospital. You can read about it at http://aiisf.org/

So on this Independence Day, it is worth taking a moment to consider what it took, in the last steps of their journey, for many of our ancestors to be officially allowed to enter the United States. Last week Lower Manhattan in New York City was full of tourists standing in line in Battery Park to get on the tourist boat going to both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, all to retrace the steps of perhaps their own ancestors who first saw the Lady in the Harbor and then had to pass her agents' inspections on Ellis Island before being allowed into the United States. No society can care for the health and well being of its citizens - and their children - by relying solely on the sentiments of Emma Lazarus' poetry written on a plaque at the Statue of Liberty's base.Would Lazarus write the same poem if new immigrants with tuberculosis were walking around her neighborhood coughing on Emma and her family?

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Comment by Paul Szemanczky on July 5, 2014 at 6:59pm

We should be filming this again Jack, these friggin border insurgents, the way we filmed with Jeff for PSC. This is too big a story at the cusp of our 'bordero' civil war.

Comment by Debbie Warren on July 4, 2014 at 8:56pm

Most people forget or deny that we have(had) laws in place that put stringent qualifications on immigrants...Criminal (that is what they are the minute they step foot on our soil by sneaking in or overstay their VISA) Illegal Aliens bypass everything and they are NOT simply immigrants or migrants.

The laws regarding immigration require one speak English, be of decent health (at least no communicable diseases and parasites), have a sponsor so they are not a drain on us and the ability and desire to work.  If they don't work, their sponsor provides for them.  Then there are all the laws about inviting, aiding and abetting and so on...which applies to our public servant corruption and Treason and the corporations that bring them here to work under the table or off your social security number.

The practice of handing over 1900 to 2500 per month to an alleged 'refugee' and advising them they don't have to work as long as they stay pregnant or keep a child under two in the residence is unknown to most American taxpayers.   The many other unearned benefits for these parasites and the sneaky cockroaches that come across our border illegally were never intended for non-citizens...including wholesale free medical care.  This is not bona fide emergency care for a fellow human being...it is free care and prescriptions and so on...which many Americans cannot afford for themselves, but foot the bill for these miscreants who are invited here and given stolen goods by our Fiduciaries.

The unaccompanied 'minors' appear to be mostly young MEN from a culture far different than ours.  They look nasty, defiant and victorious.  Just wait until they get into your communities...scabies, TB and that sort of thing will pale by comparison to the filth and crime the perpetrate on  your children.

Truth hurts...and the experience and history is right in front of our eyes to prove it.  Deport them, their grannies and all the public servants and corporate criminals who brought them here and gave them  your 'farm'...or better yet, utilize prosecution and the ultimate punishment for Treason.  We'd be well rid of those parasites as well.

Comment by KathleenSt on July 4, 2014 at 5:17pm

Time to reopen Ellis Island and get control on who is in this country and why.

Ellis Island worked before and can again with some changes to the process.

Comment by catherine deanni on July 4, 2014 at 4:41pm

When these immigrates came in the 1800 to 1900, we needed workers for our factories and they didn't need to be well educated they only need to speak English to be able to communicate & follow instructions. Since we don't make things today, we don't need all these uneducated people, it is only growing our social welfare system. As far as learning English our government has made it easier for them to keep there Spanish language as our public schools have for the last 20yrs added learning Spanish as part of our children education. program. When you go anywhere in American today our businesses offer everything in English & Spanish so why would these illegals have to learn English, it is the American who have the disadvantage because many jobs will only hire you if you speak Spanish. 

Comment by Dwight M. Schmitz on July 4, 2014 at 3:14pm

While promoting easy immigration, the left frequently makes the claim that part of the foundation of this country was immigrants, therefore, when conservatives want to control immigration, we are somehow being hypocrites.

While I agree that immigrants were a historical part of this country’s history, I see a big difference between the early immigrants and the illegal immigrants of today.

The immigrants of our history left almost everything behind and coming here was a make or break, do or die proposition, yet they still came in through the front door and asked how they could become an American.

The illegal immigrants of today, if they get caught and if they get sent back, simply turn around and try again. Not anywhere near the leave it all behind, make or break approach of the immigrants of our history. If they then make it into our country, they come in through the back door and ask what can America do for them.

This leads me to a bit of a twist on one of Kennedy’s most famous quotes - Ask not what America can do for you, ask what you do can to become an American.

Comment by Jimmy Hight on July 4, 2014 at 1:09pm

They were not allowed to be a burden on the American tax payer, they also had to learn English to survive even if it was just having their children learn it then they were able to melt into the pot and become an American while their Children flourished and prospered. Now they just put them on welfare and they never leave the government tit, voting for all the free stuff they can get. Enough, Happy Fourth of July and may God help us all to find the will to send these children back to their parents in whatever country they came from.

Comment by Rocketeer on July 4, 2014 at 9:10am

My Grandfather and Grandmother came through Ellis Island in 1905 from Greece.. They lived the American Dream and gave me a wonderful life in the most wonderful country on the planet. I'm thankful every day that I was born in America!

Comment by Debrajoe Smith-Beatty on July 4, 2014 at 8:45am

thanks.

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