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Thursday, December 2, 2021
HomeOpinionImmigration, Ellis Island and Historical Fiction

Immigration, Ellis Island and Historical Fiction

The Statue of Liberty in front of Ellis Island across from New York City. (Photo: AdobeStock/UbjsP)
The Statue of Liberty in front of Ellis Island across from New York City. (Photo: AdobeStock/UbjsP)

The Statue of Liberty in front of Ellis Island across from New York City. (Photo: AdobeStock/UbjsP)

Listen to the outrage over the treatment of migrant families illegally crossing at the southern border, and you’ll no doubt catch all the cute platitudes.

Exhibit A: “This isn’t who we are as a country.”

Exhibit B: “We’re a nation of immigrants.”

Exhibit C: “The Statue of Liberty is weeping.”

Welcome to the debate over immigration. It’s rampant with historical fiction, neglects the factual record, is heavy on emotion and lacks reason and logic. It draws a moral equivalence between border jumpers and the millions of legal immigrants who traveled to and were processed at Ellis Island.

It’s estimated that 40%, or over 100 million Americans, can trace their ancestry back to at least one man, woman, or child who legally entered the country through Ellis Island. During peak years, thousands of immigrants arrived each day.

With the exception of a long and arduous journey, the legal immigration to the U.S. in the 20th century through Ellis Island has little to nothing in common with the unfettered and illegal immigration of Central Americans through the southern border.

Since the talking heads and pundits keep referring to Ellis Island to underscore “our proud history of welcoming immigrants” to the U.S., it might be useful to remind everyone about that experience.

Rewind to the 20th century.

Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island from the Old World were greeted by the Statue of Liberty. Upon their arrival, doctors examined each and every new immigrant for contagious diseases. Naturally, this was to ensure the health of the citizenry.

If the examiner found or suspected a contagious disease such as plague, cholera, typhoid or others, then the immigrant was denied entry and promptly quarantined. Child migrants under the age of 12, were sent back with one parent. Child migrants 12-years-old or older, were sent back, alone.

Fast-forward back to 2018, and the media coverage insinuates that family separation is a new concept. It is not, and even those trying to gain legal entry could be subjected to it if warranted.

Rewinding back to the 20th century, and the obligation of the examiner was to operate in the best interest of U.S. citizens. Some may find the practice of child separation cruel, but I suspect there aren’t too many parents willing to gamble with the lives of their own children.

After the medical examination, the newly arrived immigrant went through an interrogation process. An inspector interrogated arrivals over their name, age, religion, previous residence, sex, civil status, etc. They also determined whether they had any relatives residing in the United States.

Inspectors had a very short period of time to determine if the information volunteered was even true. If they determined an arrival could pose a danger to society or if any of the information was questionable, then their stay at Ellis Island was extended.

Nevertheless, even with far more restrictive conditions, only about 2% of the millions of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island were sent back.

Fast-forwarding back to 2018, and the pompous, holier-than-thou talking heads are outraged over the policy of treating lawbreakers as such and separating them from their families upon illegal arrival. If we are going to be subjected to morally-superior but badly botched references to Emma Lazarus, then at least make sure the poem is pertinent.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Nowhere does it immortalize, “Send these, the cartels, parentless kids-tost to me, I lift my open borders beside the human traffickers.” At no time during the great migrations that populated the New World were the proper ports of entry wholly ignored.

Many of the Trump Administration ‘s most vocal critics have themselves claimed to “adamantly” oppose illegal immigration. Most even supported increased levels of deportations and decreased levels of legal immigration.

These very same people — including but not limited to Senator Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama — believe Americans are so easily manipulated that we are either too stupid or won’t bother to YouTube their past comments.

“You have to concentrate on saying the people who should be here are the ones who come legally,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said after the American voters put her in office for the first time. “The day when America could be the welfare system for Mexico is gone. The illegal immigrants who come and commit crimes… that’s not what our nation is all about.”

This manufactured outrage is all about votes. Nothing more. Nothing less. The left truly didn’t believed President Donald J. Trump would or could ever win. They believed they finally had the numbers after years of unfettered immigration to forever change the electoral map.

Unfortunately for them, the electoral map didn’t change as fast as their tone.

Written by

Laura Lee Baris is the Assistant Editor at People's Pundit Daily (PPD) and the Producer of "Inside the Numbers" with the People's Pundit. Laura covers politics, entertainment, culture and women's issues. She is also married to the People's Pundit, Richard D. Baris, and a mother to their two beautiful children.

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