In the Shadow of Liberty: The Chronicle of Ellis Island

By Edward Corsi | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
DEPRESSION TURNS THE TIDE

FROM the outset of my administration I realized that the modern problems of Ellis Island were in distinct contrast to those of the flood-tide days.

The depression throughout the country had brought a lengthening of bread lines and those clamoring for municipal relief. The immigration laws provided for the deportation of "public charges" or vagrants under certain conditions. To all parts of the world had gone the news that America was no longer the "land of promise"; it was being rumored and reported by disappointed aliens in writing to their friends on the other side that the "promise" had been deleted from the mythical name which had gained force for two centuries.

In the administration of Secretary Doak at Washington there was a clearly defined policy of deportation. First, he had publicly announced that he intended to rid the country of undesirable foreigners. In some instances, he employed the "anarchist" or radical clause of the law, but he also made a drive against vagrants and unemployed, as well as those here illegally.

Early in my regime at the Island, New York's Alien Squadron of the Police Department accompanied by ambitious Immigration Inspectors detailed by Secretary Doak to Ellis Island for the grand clean-up, entered a Finnish dance hall in Harlem and locked the doors behind them. The celebrating Finns were lined up against

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