Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island

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This post originally appeared at Mother Jones.

Immigrant Children, Ellis Island, New York, ca. 1908 (National Archives)
Immigrant children at Ellis Island, New York, circa 1908 (National Archives)

An unaccompanied child migrant was the first person in line on opening day of the new immigration station at Ellis Island. Her name was Annie Moore, and that day, January 1, 1892, happened to be her 15th birthday. She had traveled with her two little brothers from Cork County, Ireland, and when they walked off the gangplank, she was awarded a certificate and a $10 gold coin for being the first to register. Today, a statue of Annie stands on the island, a testament to the courage of millions of children who passed through those same doors, often traveling without an older family member to help them along.

Alarmists painted immigrants — children included — as disease-ridden job stealers bent on destroying the American way of life. And they’re still at it.

Of course, not everyone was lining up to give Annie and her fellow passengers a warm welcome. Alarmists painted immigrants — children included — as  disease-ridden job stealers bent on destroying the American way of life. And they’re still at it. On a CNN segment about the current crisis of child migrants from Central and South America, Michele Bachmann used the word “invaders” and warned of rape and other dangers posed to Americans by the influx. And last week, National Review scoffed at appeals to American ideals of compassion and charity, claiming Ellis Island officials had a strict send-’em-back policy when it came to children showing up alone.

That’s not true, according to Barry Moreno, a librarian at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and author of the book Children of Ellis Island. The Immigration Act of 1907 did indeed declare that unaccompanied children under 16 were not permitted to enter in the normal fashion. But it didn’t send them packing, either. Instead, the act set up a system in which unaccompanied children — many of whom were orphans — were kept in detention awaiting a special inquiry with immigration inspectors to determine their fate. At these hearings, local missionaries, synagogues, immigrant aid societies and private citizens would often step in and offer to take guardianship of the child, says Moreno.

A German refugee reads a Superman comic book at the New York Children's Colony, a Viennese-run school for refugee children. (Library of Congress/Marjory Collins)

A German refugee reads a Superman comic book at the New York Children's Colony, a Viennese-run school for refugee children. (Library of Congress/Marjory Collins)

In Annie’s case, her parents were waiting to receive her; they’d taken the same journey to New York three years before, looking for work. But according to Moreno, thousands of unaccompanied children came over without friends or family on the other side of the crossing, many of them stowaways. Moreno doesn’t know of an official count of how many children were naturalized this way, but he says it was fairly common. And he can point to at least one great success story, that of Henry Armetta, a 15-year-old stowaway from Palermo, Italy, who was sponsored by a local Italian man and went on to be an actor in films with Judy Garland and the Marx Brothers. “He’s one of the best known of the Ellis Island stowaways,” Moreno says.

Eight orphan children whose mothers were killed in a Russian pogrom. They were brought to Ellis Island in 1908. Augustus Sherman/National Parks Service

Eight orphan children whose mothers were killed in a Russian pogrom. They were brought to Ellis Island in 1908. Augustus Sherman/Ellis Island Foundation

Other children journeyed to Ellis Island alone because they had lost their parents, often to war or famine and had been sponsored by immigrant aid societies and other charities in America. The picture above shows eight Jewish children whose mothers had been killed in a Russian pogrom in 1905. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society had obtained “bonds” to sponsor their immigration, and they arrived at Ellis Island in 1908. As Moreno notes in his book, thousands of orphans came over thanks to such bonds, and after landing, many would travel on “orphan trains” to farms and small towns where their patrons had arranged their stay.

Ellis Island officials made several efforts to care for children detained on the island — those with parents and those without — who could be there for weeks at a time.
Ellis Island officials made several efforts to care for children detained on the island — those with parents and those without — who could be there for weeks at a time. Around 1900 a playground was constructed there with a sandbox, swings and slides. A group of about a dozen women known as “matrons” played games and sang songs with the children, many of whom they couldn’t easily communicate with due to language barriers. Later, a school room was created for them, and the Red Cross supplied a radio for the children to listen to.

And of course, many of those kids grew up to work tough jobs, start new businesses and create new jobs and pass significant amounts of wealth down to some of the very folks clamoring to “send ‘em back” today.

Tasneem Raja is MoJo’s Interactive Editor. She specializes in web app production, interactive graphics and user interface design. Before joining Mother Jones, she was an interactive producer at The Bay Citizen. Before crossing over to the dark side, she was a features reporter and copyeditor at The Chicago Reader.
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  • JJ5306

    These immigrants are white. See the difference. They too were illegal.

  • Charles Reynolds

    Tasneem, you all just still
    don’t get it do you? Its not about “job stealing children”.
    Its about being taken advantage of by a bunch of low life politicians
    in countries all over the world, including our own. Its about a world
    that is far different than the one where millions of people passed
    through Ellis Island looking to start a new life. (Interesting that you use Ellis Island, a LEGAL access point for immigrants to compare it to the ILLEGAL access being used at our borders.) Its about people
    who want to kill us, and other people who want to live in a country
    that will not only care for them but one where they don’t have to
    worry about drug cartels or secret police. Its about doing things the
    right way versus doing things the wrong way. Its about people who
    would stoop so low as to use children as pawns. And Ms Raja, its about
    the fact that the Immigration Act of 1997 – besides being written
    from the viewpoint of a much different world – was never designed to
    anticipate the mass scale of abuse of goodwill that is being
    perpetrated today. When will you all, right and left robots alike,
    think about the impact of these events before spewing your pablum. -
    - And one more thing, young lady.The lie being force fed down the
    throats of Americans that there are jobs aplenty, that things are
    getting better, is a lie nonetheless. I DARE you or any of your
    liberal phonies to go out and get one of those jobs and feed your
    family off of them. The LEFT lie that its all getting better and the
    RIGHT lie its all the left”s fault will be as big a downfall as
    letting all these ILLEGAL immigrants just walk all over us.

  • Mark G

    Anarchy and Chaos. I love it. We don’t need no stinkin borders. After all, we live in a world economy. And if you don’t like what happening here, just leave.

  • Joan Harris

    Three of my four grandparents immigrated from Yugoslavia around 1900 and the grandmother who was born here was also Croatian. There was a community of Croatians that carried on traditions even though their grandchildren would never learn their language…it was frowned upon. Between different ethnic groups there was discrimination. I grew up in an ethnic melting pot and it made no sense to me that there was a common thread (they were all immigrants) and yet the different nationalities were divided.

  • Anonymous

    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

    John Kenneth Galbraith

    Charles, your rant above is just such an attempt. A specious and vapid attempt to find some way to deny reaching out to children that are innocent victims of our own actions.

  • Carroll

    For those unwilling to let the rich pay a fair share … maybe 20,000,000 or so will cover our Social Security checks in the coming decades.

  • Anonymous

    Boy I hope old Lou “send-em-back” Barletta reads this, he went to school with my husband and my mother in law knew his parents were straight off the boat…

  • Lorry frey

    I agree with much of what you say, except that corrupt governments in these countries are only too happy to send people off so as to rid themselves of their responsibilities. People would not leave their homes as they don’t from Costa Rica a stable society. We should be working toward that instead of our meddling in oil rich middle eastern countries.

  • rascalina

    Actually America was open to immigrants back then since they were building a nation. Also I’d like to note, there was no social security or welfare programs. You came here, you found a job, worked it and you made money. It wasn’t possible to be a drain on tax payers. Today our national debt is sky high, and we have high unemployment, and the lowest labor participation rate we’ve had in years. We can not afford more people who will not add value to the country. Perhaps people who support this kind of immigration we are faced with today, should be in line, trying to adopt these children and providing them food, shelter and an education so that the govt doesn’t have to fund it.

  • Penny Dreadful

    Many people are doing just as you suggest. Why do you imagine this isn’t the case?

  • Chris Aquino

    Bill, I’ve noticed that in this article, as well as all the news reports that I’ve seen say that these children are undocumented immigrants. You and all the news sources and the U.S. Government are wrong! These people are refugees. To say different is to negate their plight. They are fleeing their countries to avoid dying.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, two wonderful examples. One, the unaccompanied minor, her parents were here waiting for her, the other ended up in film. Please tell us of the countless others who ended up working in sweatshops, or were victimized in some other manner, by less sophisticated means. That of course, wouldn’t go well with the feel good narrative.

  • Anonymous

    Since I believe in the goodness of most Americans, the quiet ones, the great “silent majority”. I think many people would be lining up to help refugee children if they had a way to do that. Americans, in general, are generous and kind and empathetic; they are not all concerned ONLY with what is good for themselves or what may cost them a few bucks. We are a good nation at heart; that heart is still beating strongly. It can’t be stopped by hatred and bigotry and racism.

  • Michael Dodson

    Rascalina, undocumented immigrants who work in the USA are contributing significantly to the health of our Social Security System. SSI and Medicare taxes are withheld from their wages. However, they are not eligible for benefits. I have seen a figure of some $13 billion/year in contributions to Social Security from undocumented immigrant workers who cannot receive benefits.

    Second, a Texas Baptist charity was prepared to purchase a motel to refurbish and use as a temporary home for 600 of these Central American refugee hopefuls. That was private charity money being used to help these little children and which would have created a $50-million positive effect on the surrounding economy.

    But, rightwing hate media learned of the plan and misreported and distorted it. It was killed off. The hate media claimed that the federal government was paying $50-milion for the motel and making it a first-class resort for the little children.

    So, even when Americans with big hearts try to do as you prescribe, the rightwing haters will kill their plans.

  • 6stufapins

    Issue; the covert method our administration used to get us to this point.
    Issue; the purpose isn’t humanitarian.
    Issue; the numbers are so great of the influx, we arent prepared. BUT we could have been.
    Issue; the prez played Dumb but wants money to “fix” it. But not the border. He wants ALL illegal immigrants to freely cross
    Theres more. But I’m busy.
    This is FAR different than “standard” child immigration.

  • Pragmatic

    In all fairness there is a big difference between the children arriving at Ellis Island then and the ones arriving at our southern border today. The Children arriving at Ellis Island were sponsored, as is pointed out in the article, by their parents, family members or immigrant aid organizations. They are basically the equivalent of an unaccompanied minor travelling by air, as my son did on a number of occasions.

    The ones arriving from central america today are not sponsored. If they have relatives in the US then those relatives can apply to take custody of them but there is a process. It seems to me that many of their parents are simply the dupes of the Coyotes.

    I deplore the situation that they face at home but why cant their neighboring countries like Nicaragua and Mexico help also? It would be less expensive for us to pay the Mexicans and the Nicaraguans to set up facilities on their borders than to process the kids here.

  • crabjack

    “Actually America was open to immigrants back then since they were building a nation.”

    The timing is perfect, then. After years of funneling our resources into the greedy hands of the American wealthy class, we are a country in need of re-building!

  • 6stufapins

    These kids and families involved, deserve humanitarian treatment. But a responsible government would do more to protect its citizens.
    We are wide open without any regulation. NO CONTROL OF THE BORDER.

  • Frank Rommey

    Appreciate your willingness to stand in for an example of inhumanity. And your commitment to lie in order of furthering the effects of your hate.
    Let me offer you a free flight to Russia… you will be in the company of your fellows, hating America and the Americans…

  • jimcolby08318

    Look to the entire West Coast during the early to middle 1800′s. Mostly children of Chinese extraction that came there unaccompanied.

  • jimcolby08318

    I suppose that you were a native; long here before the immigrant, yes?

  • fiorastar

    My great-grandmother was one of those children coming through Ellis Island. She had a ticket purchased by her mother from a man who was passing through their subsistence farming village and decided to settle. She had no sponsor, no family in the US, and no idea what she would do–she was given 24 hours notice that she was to leave her home forever. She made a friend on the boat, another young girl, and they found an apartment and a job together in New York, then migrated to St. Louis, where she became the founder of our US family, and one of my most beloved relatives–her courage, and the love she showed me as a young child, continue to inspire me today. Let’s remember these children from Central and South America are refugees from terrible things, and we cannot simply send them back.

  • Eric Lawson

    Well said Pragmatic Peace!!

  • Eric Lawson

    One of my concerns is that these countries will empty their Juvenal detention centers .Like Castro did back in the 70 ts . They were sent adults as well if memory serves me right. To Florida!!..Florida is still Reaping the whirlwind from that move !!. Screen these people As im sure is being done . Send the undesirables Packing Peace!!

  • James Post

    We should treat these unaccompanied children in a humanitarian fashion, but we do have the right to control our borders.

    Further, since we are talking about the late 19th and early 20th century, and we were supposedly so humane back then, let’s implement out a few other things that were laws/normal practice back then:
    *Segregation
    *maximum income tax rates of 3% at the federal level
    *next to no safety net for poor people
    *no medicare, social security
    *discrimination considered acceptable against many groups, not just blacks
    *abortion illegal almost everywhere

    Ah yes, the good old days….

    In the early 20th century, several children from my family, my great aunts and uncles, were sent back to Europe because of health issues. Can we do that with these immigrants, back to Central America?

    The analogy offered in the article between then and now is somewhat valid, and has plenty of holes as well.

    As stated in my first paragraph, treat the children humanely, but we have every right to control our borders. And the people who don’t believe we can allow everyone into here are overwhelmingly good people, who should not be the objects of the frequently used race card.

  • Pragmatic

    Your grandmother was probably an adult(at least 18) or passed for one.
    I’m not suggesting sending them back without a hearing but I am suggesting that we house them on the borders of their home countries.

    “Refugees from terrible things” What about all the other refugees? Central America is a picnic compared to many places. Why not let them in also? We brought in the lost boys and many other Somalis and now some of them are going to fight with Al Shabab.
    Lets concentrate on fixing the root problems these people face and stop providing more cheap labor for Walmart and their ilk.

  • fiorastar

    My great-grandmother had her 14th birthday on the boat, and her friend she met was also newly 14–that was why they became friends. Neither had ever left their families or villages before this journey. She never saw her family again.
    Yes, we should absolutely concentrate on fixing the root problems, but at the same time, these children should not be sent back to torture and death. Yes, we should allow desperate children who were sent alone by desperate parents to escape the terrible conditions they were in. And we do not know what these children will become, but if they are treated with compassion and help, they are far more likely to become something positive for our nation and the world than if they are treated as animals by those of us who consider ourselves more “civilized”.

    Since you know so much and are apparently against this new wave of needy child immigrants, I’m just wondering what your own ancestry is, and where your parents or grandparents came from? Unless it is an indigenous “First People” nation native to the North American continent, I would suggest you consider their journey.

  • KatInAZ

    Not all of the unaccompanied minors at Ellis Island were sponsored. Many were stowaways who didn’t get a sponsorship until after they arrived at Ellis. That makes me wonder why can’t the same be done now? Regular Americans sponsoring these children once they are here? Makes sense to me.

  • Skip Moreland

    Like the children at the border they just showed up. The children at the border have shown up and turned themselves over to the authorities, just like those children over 100 yrs ago. In fact that was all anyone had to do back then, was to just show up. You came across the border (ellis was a favorite for the europeans) and said here I am, passed citizen requirements and that was all that was necessary. It is how everyone’s family got here (not including the natives) of those of us who are not recent immigrants. You just showed up. That’s all it ever took. It’s how most of us got to be living here today.

  • Maddoggin

    Answer to your question: “did they cross the border legally or illegally like the current kids have done????”

    These kids are not crossing illegally. They’re turning themselves in to border patrol. Are there still immigrants coming through illegally? Of course there are but these kids are not. They’re walking straight up to border patrol. Not sneaking in illegally.

  • Scott Enerson

    why would you want to take a step backward?

  • Mayu

    I think you missed the point completely Scott. Reread the comment. Everyone is acting as if we should accept these children as we did back then… but he reminded us what “back then” also entailed. We can’t live in the past… especially when times are more dangerous. Is it truly that inhumane to protect our own people? We have vets on the streets, children going hungry in our own country… yet we want to give illegals more benefits than we give our own? And how do we control crime if we don’t know who is here and why?

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Lawson: You mean juvenile, right? Not Juvenal, the ancient Roman poet, first century AD? He has been detained… but not by the authorities! :) The thing with Castro (Mariel boatlift) included virtually no unaccompanied children and took place in 1980. How do you “reap a whirlwind”? Thank you for a very amusing post. :)

  • Eric Lawson

    Yes Mr Rock Thank you for the spell check. Very astute of you. What i wanted to say with out extensive elaboration. Was that Castro took advantage of the US Governments kind heart. Then abused their trust. by sending his emptied prisons. I would hope that the Countries involved in this Exodus be held to account No Riff Raff If you know what i mean. That a clear message be sent by the powers that be. That this will not be tolerated for the long run. Obama is already asking for 3.7 billion dollars to control this mess. Not a penny more Yes ??

    Peace!!

  • Rachida Djebel

    Too many below seem not to have studied the immigration patterns and means of the early influx of travelers from wherever to what is the so-called US even before it was named that. In the 18th and 19th century many came-adults and children-uninvited and not welcomed…and many were sent back from whence they came while others died during the crossing or after arrival at the destination -only one of which was Ellis Island. Children came unaccompanied often to join family members -a parent perhaps as was the case of my aunt-who had preceded them and had worked years to earn the child’s steerage passage….Some might want to read up on immigration policies then as now-and perhaps a ship’s manifest of passengers…Even speaking English was no guarantee of being welcomed (ask the Irish) nor a college education-ask my deceased grandfather from Eastern Europe…And while you are at it-where are these lines of demarcation called borders????!!! Next time you fly, look down…..perhaps then you will reconsider the ill-conceived phrases ‘legal’ vs ‘illegal’…maybe….And you might look up the term Manifest Destiny-and cry out against its blatant injustice and corruption of the one who taught to turn the other cheek and who was so against ill-treatment of any kind.

  • Anonymous

    @Maddogin, You’;re truly brain dead.
    How does “turning yourself in” somehow undo an illegal act?!?!
    We have procedures for seeking entry to this country. Get in line at a consulate in their home country. submit forms to get visa, etc. Crossing the border is BREAKING THE LAW.
    You don’t get to pick/choose the laws you wish to follow.

  • Gato Pardo

    The cherry on top of the cake is : US government officials visited Central American countries to have “secret” talks with their governments to solve this crisis and the BEST SOLUTION THEY COULD FIND IS TO PUT THE PARENTS OF THOSE CHILDREN IN JAIL!……Sometimes when it rains, it pours, i’m ashamed of my own government now.

  • Skip Moreland

    My response to the person who’s comment was deleted is that we are trying to deal with it (I had nothing to do with that deletion.).
    For one we have an aging population and not enough young people to support our current system. Having more young people helps to support the elderly, at least financially. There are a number of countries around the world (China & Japan being two) with aging population and not enough young people to replace the work force and they have come to realize that. We need to do the same.
    At every point in our history, immigration has helped this country. The new immigrates have always been hated, but eventually they settle in just like everyone else has. Each wave has reinvigorated us, brought new ideas, and in the end more wealth.Immigration has made this country what it is today. Therefore people like me do try to do something about these ridiculous anti-immigration acts.

  • Maddoggin

    The law George Bush signed in 2008 gives these kids their day in court. Its the law! As soon as they step foot on U.S soil these kids have rights. That’s the law!

  • Anonymous

    We don’t have these two groups in just America. This is pretty much how it breaks down everywhere in the world, and has throughout history. And the small-minded, venal, second group has always been the one most easily led by elites craftily appealing to their fears (overlords, nobles, dictators, the 1%; the list goes on…)

  • Anonymous

    You may “get the premise,” but your question shows you didn’t bother to read the article.

  • Anonymous

    Of course, the countries they are fleeing from have higher vaccination rates than the US does, so maybe they should be worried about catching something from us!

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  • Teresa Cain

    It’s a different time. While we should never treat children the way that some mean spirited Americans have chosen to do, we do need to have the personnel to make a more speedy assessment of their situation, to care for them humanely while they’re here waiting for the results of that assessment, and then, barring evidence that they were facing human trafficking or a threat to their life in their home country they should be sent back, We have so many children already here who need better care. If there is a general threat to children in a particular country, perhaps Congress should, in the context of comprehensive immigration reform, authorize staffing “safe stations” where children could go to apply to immigrate legally.

  • http://truckingmybluesaway.blogspot.com/ David Roche

    A nation that regards children in this way cannot by any sense or meaning of the word be considered a Christian nation. Every excuse, every ‘good’ reason given for having a lack of compassion toward these little ones is further proof.

  • Anonymous

    Those Central American countries also have had disruptions in stable govt’s by the US meddling via the CIA. This is what happened in the Ukraine several months back. The State Dept. spent approx. 5 Bil. to use for the far right maidan extremists to start riots . Now we have a commercial A/L downed and we are spinning the story to blame the Russians. WAKE UP….it’s right under your nose, don’t you smell it?

  • Anonymous

    Sounds a lot like those unchristian Christians.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, the uber rich knows how to play them….

  • http://www.ibnalhaytham.net/ bradleysteffens

    My great-grandfather emigrated from a small town in Germany by himself in 1880 at age fourteen. His parents were living; there was no war or famine. He came to America because it was the land of opportunity. It was all perfectly legal, because the US needed immigrants. He survived and prospered on his own, with no government assistance and no government interference. It was a different world back then. Comparisons to the situation today are specious.

  • Anonymous

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    explained I cannot believe that a stay at home mom can make $7420 in four weeks
    on the internet . more info here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

  • Kenneth Johnson

    If you remember the Cuban government had laws against Cubans coming to the US and view those who wanted to come as criminals. So they did not screen the refugees and released all criminals to the US,

  • Eric Lawson

    Very True Peace!!

  • Anonymous

    Jordan and Turkey have taken in TWO MILLION refugees in last 2 years. The massive and “Christian” USA is freaking out over 100,000…..

  • Anonymous

    The US still needs immigrants, especially young ones, to support our aging boomer population.
    PS: how do you know your ancestors arrived “legally”? You only know what you were told or assume….

  • Pragmatic

    Well according to the regulations of the time she was too young. I guessed she passed for 16.(I was wrong about that in my deleted reply) maybe she got a job at a fine employer like the Triangle Shirtwaist company or perhaps in the textile mills of Lawrence MA? Are suggesting we allow child labor as we did back then?

    Where my family is from is immaterial as no statement about it, just as the ones you make about your own, cannot be proven here.

    I will ask again, where do we draw the line? Central America as it is is not the worst place on earth. Do we let in anyone?

    Making people stay where they are motivates them to fix their own countries. It was the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act in this country that motivated our nation to finally end slavery through the vehicle of the Civil War.

    In closing it is you who are lacking compassion. Why should people endure having to leave their own countries. Lets help make the refugees companies better as opposed to just throwing up our hands.

  • im2late

    If Bradley’s great-grandparents were documented at Ellis Island, they were legal!

  • im2late

    Amen!

  • Elizabeth Haney

    Then change the law.

  • rascalina

    It’ll be easier to legalize drugs than to get americans to stop using drugs.

  • Shiela Robinette

    Yes, they were. Please re-read the article. Or tell us what your definition of “stowaway” is.

  • rascalina

    Many European countries have taken in “refugees” too. Does anyone remember when parts of Paris were burning just years ago. And it still happens but the media doesn’t cover it.

  • Anonymous

    My grandfather was a stowaway from Fryslan, on a cargo ship from the Netherlands. He was 12. He had an uncle here, but he found him only years later. By the time World War 2 came around, he confessed his illegal immigration and tried to join the military. He was refused because his skills as a barge and tug captain were too vital to the war effort in New York Harbor.

  • Anonymous

    Tell it to the do-nothing Congress; that’s their job. In the meantime, it’s still the law.

  • Anonymous

    According to the article, it looks like a lot stowed away and entered “illegally”, unlike these kids at the border, who are turning themselves into border patrol.

  • lostinbago

    Please tell me how 8-16 year old children from a culture immersed in violence and poverty is to “present evidence”.

  • Brett

    You’re right. I propose a solution to end this issue for good. Have a 100 yard dead zone at our border. Fill it with mines and lined at the border with automated weapons set to shoot anything that crosses into that dead zone. This will effectively stem the tide of drugs across the border. Sure a couple of people will risk it and get themselves killed, but that’ll stop quickly. Once the drug lords south of the border start losing revenue, they won’t be able to pay their armies and they’ll fade away with time. You’re welcome. I’ll look forward to taking your vote for President in 2028.

  • Laurie Lakin Meyer

    Ellis Island opened in 1892. I believe others who landed in the U.S. before that would have been “documented” at the port where they landed. There were dozens (or maybe even hundreds or more) of situations where those landing would have been “legal”, and possibly the same for the opposite. The only thing I’ve read where they “send them back” is if the immigrant had some disease that they were trying not to allow to get spread.

  • Bill Bert

    Leroy, could you explain the “big difference”?

  • Carl E. Mott III

    Legalization is not the answer, decriminalization of small amounts that users abuse, and the proper treatment of habitual users as a mental health issue, is. The Billion$ we spend on prohibition and interdiction just raises the drug street prices making them make them insanely profitable. Ending our War on Drugs policy would end that financial incentive and hence much, much less ‘product’ would be created and distributed.

  • Carl E. Mott III

    R’amen!

  • Fed up

    prohibition worked really well for alcohol :)

  • im2late

    Thanks for that. Didn’t realize it opened so late.

  • im2late

    So true! Also true that there is a large market for trafficked children and young women in the US. It certainly is hypocritical of Americans to ignore the fact that WE are creating a market for the drug lords and traffickers in Central America, Mexico and elsewhere in the world. (Jesus was right on the mark when he said: “First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

  • Elizabeth Haney

    I know it’s their job. What if millions of people come across our border? What is Congress going to do then?

  • Elizabeth Haney

    I disagree. We can’t take in everyone who wants to come. How many have you adopted?

  • Anonymous

    What was the population of the country back then and what is it now? Do you want this country to be like India?? When is enough enough?? Until we come to terms as to what kind of country we want India, or something less populated we should stop ALL immigration and develop a long term policy that takes into account jobs available, infrastructure and total population we want in this country. By the late 60s the population of this country stabilized with a future “level” population of about 275 million with room for about 500,000 or so “new immigrants coming in each year. About 1970 things changed; our legal immigration jumped from 250,000 a year to over a million a year even during the Great Recession, NAFTA put millions of Mexican farmers out of work, they literally lost the farm, many came here as illegals, swelling our population even more. From 1970 to today the ENTIRE population growth has come from immigration and the children of the immigrants. SOooo, when is enough enough??

  • Anonymous

    These are the same people who stand in front of women’s clinics screaming, claiming to be pro-life, they are NOT pro-life, they are pro-birth. Once the baby clears the birth canal they walk away patting themselves on their backs. Then claim to be Christian. So sad.

  • http://truckingmybluesaway.blogspot.com/ David Roche

    I wrote this little ditty while picking blackberries and thinking about this horror. The song “Jesus Loves The Little Children” was in my mind.

    Sing along, its called “Fundies Hate The Little Children”

    Fundies hate the little children
    most of the children in the world
    Red and yellow brown and black
    if you come here we’ll send you back.
    Fundies hate the little children of the world.

    Fundies love some little children
    some of the children in the world
    If you’re white you’re alright
    come on in no need for fright
    Fundies love some of the children of the world.

  • Teresa Cain

    I completely agree.

  • Teresa Cain

    I was not putting the burden on the children. Theoretically staff of aid groups and embassies and others operating/living/working in the areas from which the children come could confirm their situations.

  • lostinbago

    good, then we are agreed. Most of these children have been documented as fleeing horrendous conditions so they should be allowed to stay. This does not alleviate all the hatred shouted at the children and the vigilante behavior of uninformed adults of whom I am ashamed to call countrymen.

  • Teresa Cain

    Agreed.

  • Anonymous

    You also describe the poor white trash educated by Fux “news.” Ignorant, hating politics i.e. tea party

  • Anonymous

    Exactly

  • rascalina

    I misspoke…. I meant decriminalization.

  • JiGGLeBiLLy

    Just a reminder: the children coming across our border, currently, are mainly refugees from the ultra-violent drug war going on in South America, largely thanks to our backwards drug policies and anti-communist meddling by the CIA.

  • Robert O’Neill

    1. the population density would be the same as england if everyone in world moved to north america 2. the kids are not mexican.

  • Anonymous

    It’s County Cork, not Cork County.

  • jhertzli

    Free range kids.

  • jhertzli

    Why?

  • jhertzli

    “We’ve always had two major groups in our American society.” People who divide the US into two groups of people and people who don’t.

  • jhertzli

    Why can’t we? Free-range kids might even break up the current consensus that “helicopter parenting” is needed.

  • Madkate

    So true. Who do they think they came from? Immigrants! That is who our nation is made up of. It is a melting pot and we can be strong together, but not fighting each other over every little cause. Jesus said to love the little children. There are so many couples that cannot have children. Why not let them come in and be adopted?

  • BullShite

    The difference is that back then, if you showed signs of illness you were sent back, and if you were not able bodied (one of PT Barnums “freaks” who was missing all limbs faced this) looking enough to presumably acquire a job when you got here, or had family willing to care for you, you were not allowed. There were SOME checks and balances back then. Also these people were, for all intents and purposes LEGAL IMMIGRANTS. They came through Ellis Island, got their paper work, and were either let go, or sent back or held, but they did not come over ILLEGALLY like these children are.

  • Arch Angel

    Dude just say it, if it’s Italians, Irish or Germans it’s OK but not those darn Mexicans!

    “were either let go, or sent back or held” No sh*t Sherlock

  • Anonymous

    Yes, and as an American, I think that my country should allow child refugees into the country.

    Many countries with nowhere near the wealth or infrastructure of the United States have kept their borders open on humanitarian grounds, including Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. The BBC reported in June that “the UN is concerned that the burden of caring for refugees is increasingly falling on the countries with the least resources. Developing countries are host to 86% of the world’s refugees, with wealthy countries caring for just 14%.”

    I mean, the USA turned away Jewish refugees during the Holocaust and the Irish during the Potato Famine, so turning away refugees is almost a time-honored tradition….but it’s still wrong.

  • Anonymous

    If stowaways are legal immigrants, then the children crossing the border should be legal as well.

  • pointofgrille

    Many previous influxes of new immigrants and /or refugees were greeted with anger, fear and hatred. There has always been the cry of increased criminal behavior, jobs lost for Americans, disease, and other society ruining predictions. BUT, every group of immigrants and refugees that has made it’s way to these shores has, in the long run, bettered and strengthened our nation. And this one will be no different.

  • pointofgrille

    Comparing refugees to illegal immigrants is not one of the American values I was taught growing up in the good old U.S.A.

  • Anonymous

    Most of the children entering come from countries with healthcare systems that are better than the USA in many ways like childhood immunization programs.

    Texas kids have more difficulty that the immigrants on that score.

    Fox News has been lying to people (Surprise)

  • Anonymous

    Too many are only “Christian” for an hour and a half every Sunday morning.

  • http://www.swift2.blogspot.com Swift2

    They were not “sponsored.” They are refugees. The age is anywhere teen years, but many are quite young. This is not the usual people who cross the border to work. These are children whose lives have been threatened by gangsters.

  • http://www.swift2.blogspot.com Swift2

    The Irish side of the family came over in 1890, two years before Ellis Island. They had already moved from Ireland after the potato famine, and landed a job in Manchester. In the US, my grandfather became a carpenter, and when he cut his thumb off with a saw, he got a milk route. Actually, he also ran numbers from his milk truck, and would make a trip to Atlantic City every Saturday to show his money and his books and collect his money.

  • http://www.swift2.blogspot.com Swift2

    Made it a bigger business.

  • Anonymous

    It’s not Mexicans, dude…..they are from Honduras, Guatamala, and El Salvador.

  • Anonymous

    So, you are determining that they are legal immigrants solely because they came through Ellis Island versus the southern border? Has it occurred to you that it’s the SAME THING? They get here and then surrender and start going through the process. Whether they come by boat or through the desert doesn’t determine the legality. You strike me as one of those folks who thinks they know about the “line” and the “legal way” and has never actually had to deal with the immigration system.

  • Anonymous

    The xenophobes tend not to notice the distinction.

  • Anonymous

    So, the moral of your story is that India grew too big in population because they let too many people in from….where? Go ahead, I’ll wait.

  • Anonymous

    I agree, but we also need to hold our own government and military accountable for going into other countries and straight up dismantling democratically elected regimes just to install dictators that then force people to migrate to avoid violence and corruption. All the refugees are coming from countries that we have invaded, funded dictatorships in, or passed “free” trade agreements with over the last 40 years.

  • im2late

    Looks like our grandfathers took similar paths, Swift2. While my grandpa didn’t run numbers ;) he did work in the food industry, working as a self-employed vendor of fruits and vegetables. His “store” was a pushcart that he would wheel from his tenement building to the wholesalers to fill up his cart (I believe they were located on Park Avenue) He would then wheel his cart (with the help of my dad and his brother) to 1st Avenue in East Harlem which was then known as “Italian Harlem” and is now known as “Spanish Harlem.” The work was backbreaking and the hours long, but somehow he managed to support his wife and 8 children housed and fed on the income he earned. He died before I really was old enough to fully “relate” to him (especially due to the language barrier,) but I think of him often these days and am very much in awe of the courage he demonstrated in leaving his homeland to come to the US with nothing to begin a new life!

  • JC

    Naysayers, bigots, and extremist right-wingers….are you reading this? What’s more important…DO YOU GET IT???

  • Anonymous

    My Great Grandmother came here, from Ireland, by herself, at 14..

  • Anonymous

    ..from where my relatives come.

  • Anonymous

    LOVE this story. My Great Grandmother came from County Cork, at 14 years of age and by herself. Oh, we Irish, such tenacity!

  • marive

    Enlightening …nobody wants to leave their family and the environment they are used to…we wish everybody could stay home,but negligence of our governments are cornering people to run away for life…I see more compassion towards stray cats than to darker skinned people nowadays…

  • Mike Yurgec

    Absolutely correct Mr. Moyers. However, they all came legally. Big difference.

  • BeyondthC

    I think people are only mad about the kids who’ve been coming now because they are brown and come from South of the border. Just my opinion but I’m sure any European children seeking refuge would be welcomed with open arms.

  • Amazed

    My dear arm chair analyst, from Honduras to Arizona is shorter than from Ireland to Ellis Island. Bring out your tape measure!!!!

  • Amazed

    The India you outsource your tech jobs to right? How is India? where are you from? Enough will be enough when you and your extended families and those that think like you start going back to wherever it is that you came from and leave this land for the Native Indian owners

  • Daniel

    Obviously people in the 1890s were mad about the white children coming from Europe. There was a lot of discrimination against the Irish (my ancestors).

  • Daniel

    But this is a copout. The only reason people come here illegally is because our laws don’t give them a realistic opportunity to come here legally. We have numeric caps on the number of people we will accept from each country. So people from Mexico, etc. who apply for visas and green cards may end up waiting decades (or indefinitely) before they are allowed to come in. Ellis Island closed, and we don’t have a current equivalent to it. The real question is, are our immigration laws fair and reasonable if so many people feel the need to break them? We’ve moved from the days of “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free” to “Give me your educated, your highly skilled, your useful people, willing to blend in.” We are cherry picking our immigrants. So, naturally, the people with nothing who want to make better lives for themselves are often left out of the legal process. It’s a totally different situation today than it was back then…there was no such thing as “illegal immigration” because all immigration was legal.

  • BeyondthC

    I’m talking about now, obviously. That’s why I worded my comment in the present tense.

  • Anonymous

    I think of the thousands of exploited children who died in this process by human traffickers

  • dufus

    Please post your evidence for this information, as it partly and very narrowly accurate.

  • dufus

    Do you worry about a lot of other ifs and assumptions? I only ask because people who do so, do it about a lot of thins. In other words, where are you getting any legitimated, factual information that this is the case– immigrant children carry diseases??

  • dufus

    What prizes– where did u read THAT? The article says ONE person got an honor for being the first. ONE

    The res makes no sense

  • dufus

    There is plenty of historical documentation and stats on waves and lots of data on immigrants through ut history. There is also information on more current immigration stats. Do the research. Start with US depts.

  • dufus

    If NOT for immigrants/immigration, the population would have gone down — look it up. The birth rate among American-born women (regardless of ancestry) has been going down down down. Seems you got it backward. As well as upside down– it will take a whole lot more that population for the US to EVER be like INDIA!!!! I sure hope that needs no explanation– think about it

  • dufus

    They documented everyone– even the stowaways. Did u read the article

  • Guest

    Thanks for the correction. I only skimmed the article, and missed that point. Tried to delete my comment, but only my name was removed. :(

  • im2late

    Tried to delete my inaccurate comment, but only my name was removed from it. I did “skim” the article, but missed the important point you mentioned. I’m embarrassed. :( Thank you for the correction.