On the ferry to Ellis Island 🗽
Once an immigration station, Ellis island welcomed more than 12 million immigrants to the United States. But let’s not get history twisted- it also served to erase a lot of people’s cultural history, renaming millions of people entering the United States because their names were “not American enough.” In the 1920s, immigration to the US would steeply decline by way of the Emergency Quota Act of 1921, which was designed to keep Eastern Europeans, Jewish people and other “undesirables” out of the United States. Immigration declined more than half that year alone.
The Immigration Act of 1924 formalized the Asian Exclusion Act, which banned all immigrants from Asia. This was on top of the 1880s Chinese Exclusion Act which banned Chinese laborers from immigrating to America. Ellis island would serve as an immigration detention facility, housing thousands at a time who were to be deported.
When we talk about how broken the American immigration system is today, let us not forget the reality that our policies started a century ago and have been consistently designed to strip power from certain groups and keep certain people out from America altogether.
These policies changed in the 1950s and 60s, but their legacy is still felt today. Let us continue to reform these policies, because the kids in cages thing happening right now is a gross violation of human rights and we absolutely need to do better.