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Would Deport Immigrants in 15 Seconds Too Soon

September 3, 1923
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Five hundred Jewish immigrants who arrived from Russia on the Esthonia, many who came on the Braga and two other steamers may be deported because their ships came in a few minutes or a few seconds before September 1.

Coming in during the last quarter of a minute of the month of August, according to the Immigration Department’s interpretation of the law, the Esthonia’s passengers belong to the August quota which is already filled. Under the regulations, they cannot come in under the September quota.

Commissioner Currau, commenting on the situation declares that the law by which these immigrants are barred is “fiendish”. The Bureau of Immigration in Washington however has ordered that the law be strictly enforced.

An effort will be made to intervene with higher officials at Washington to set aside the harsh ruling of the Immigration Bureau.

“Times” Scores “Fiendish” Ruling.

The New York Times today comments editorially on this ruling which would bar immigrants arriving a few seconds too soon. The editorial in part is as as follows:

“Commissioner Curran uses restrained language when he calls “fiendish” the ruling that the thousand or two immigrants who crossed the line at Quarantine a few minutes – in one case only 15 seconds – before midnight on Aug. 31 must be deported because they do not fall within the September quota… Besides being so cruel, the decision flies directly in the face of common sense that it seems as if a way must be found to set aside or get around it…

The incident, like others less flagrant that have preceded it, cries aloud for a revision of our Immigration laws, especially as regards the details of its administration. Without departing from the percentage basis for the admission of aliens, much greater discretion could be given to the officers charged with the duty of enforcing the law. It ought always be possible to rearrange and adjust the monthly quotas in a way to prevent extreme hardships…”

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