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Ellis Island Officers Want Relief from “Weird” Immigration Laws

June 4, 1923
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Unless the short session of Congress, convening in December, finds time and inclination to amend the immigration law, Ellis Island will again next year be the scene of daily tragedy, in the opinion of the immigration authorities here, according to an article in today’s issue of The SUN AND GLOBE. Needless sufferings, the officials assert, is inflicted on immigrants through weird workings of the law which the immigrant is unable to foresee and which the authorities at Ellis Island are often powerless to ameliorate, with the best will in the world to do so.

With regard to the policy of restricting or selecting or letting in all immigrants the officials as such hold no opinion. They want quick relief, however, from those features of the law which have nothing to do with the policy, but which, nevertheless, inflict upon the people of the island the unpleasant duty of separating the members of families, making decisions obviously in conflict with common sense and ordering the deportation of many an applicant who they know would make a useful citizen.

Robert E. Todd, commissioner in charge at Eliis Island, believes that a better way of determining nationality could be applied.

“The case of place of birth determining nationality, is illustrative of the lack of coordination abroad that ought to be remedied. Even where a consul may know that the quota of his country is not full, he has scant means of knowing whether the quota of some other country is full, and the natural inclination is to grant a vise to all the members of a family if the heads of the family are eligible. Then they come here and we have no option, often, but to reject some members and admit others.

“We are not the ones who actually break up the families, however. The immigrants themselves do that. In the case of children being refused admission on medical as well as other grounds, it is not infrequent for the parents to chose to come into the country without the rejected child.”

Commissioner Todd believes that the nationality of the head of the family should determine the eligibility for admission of all its members accompanying him, so far as the quota law is concerned. He admits that it would be subject to such abuses as marriage for the sole purpose of passing the Island. But these abuses could ### now inflicted.

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