Send Those Children Back, Oh Wait…

Send Those Children Back, Oh Wait…

Children coming to the United States without their parents have been coming in since at least 1892. On the day Ellis Island opened, January 1, 1892, the first person in line was Annie Moore and her two brothers that had traveled from Ireland. Being the first, she was given a gold coin and now a statue stand to encourage children to come to America.

Some officials, like Michelle Bachmann have claimed that Ellis Island is required and has strict orders to send them back. That is not true. She called them “invaders” and warned of possible trouble making antics from them. Historically, immigrant children without parents have been getting in trouble for years and years. In 1921, 13-year old Osman Louis, from Belgium, was a stowaway and was helped out by Helen Bastedo to keep the child in the country.

The Immigration Act of 1907 declares that children under 16 that are unaccompanied by parents are not permitted to enter in the normal fashion. They are not sent back. The procedure states they must enter a detention center where an inquiry from special inspectors will determine their fate. May times, synagogues, missionaries and even private citizens would offer to take over the guardianship of the child.

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.

You want to send them back? That isn’t the modus operandi of the United States of America.



The opinions in this blog are those of Tom Knuppel