Monday, April 2, 2007

Only 2 percent were turned away from Ellis Island

Relatively open-door policies made it easier for earlier generations

Border Patrol chief promotes wider legal entry points as law enforcement tool

"Controlled, orderly and fair"

The New York Times reported on a recent Congressional hearing at Ellis Island on the history of U.S. immigrant policy, in which officials pointed out the more liberal system in place for previous generations of immigrants to the United States:

"[O]nly 2 percent of would-be immigrants were turned away at Ellis Island. The requirements were minimal compared with those of today, said Representative Linda S├ínchez, a Democrat from California: reasonably good health and $10, or the equivalent of $216 in today’s dollars, to show that one would not become a public burden."

The chief of the Border Patrol at the Department of Homeland Security, David V. Aguilar, suggested that a return to the more open and orderly Ellis Island policies of the past would enable law enforcement to focus their resources on criminals instead of the "vast majority" of southern border-crossers who are only seeking employment.

"Zoe Lofgren, the California Democrat who chairs the subcommittee, evoked her immigrant grandfather, Carl Robert Lofgren, who debarked in Boston at 16 a century ago without money and speaking no English, 'armed only with his dreams, his work ethic, his optimism and visions of America forged from reading Westerns written in Swedish.'”

“'This room is a visible vestige of a controlled, orderly and fair immigration system,' she said."

Photo: "Emigrants coming to the 'Land of Promise'" - U.S. Library of Congress

1 comment:

  1. The moral argument aside, (which is an overwhelming one) yes, it is a obvious waste of law enforcement resources. Most Americans don't understand that there isn't any realistic process in place for poor but hardworking people to emigrate here from Mexico. Conservative estimates place the wait at around 15-20 years! So they will come, as would you or I if faced with similar circumstances. Devoting millions of dollars and man-hours trying to catch everyone is counter-productive, to say the least.

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