Unaccompanied Minor Immigrants in 1910

Authored By:  Anne M. Zadora

Above are the pages that document the conversation between Gennarino Pesce/Eddie Fish and the investigator from Naples, Italy.  Images are copyright to the Center for Migration Studies and are part of the St. Raphael Collection.

Above are the pages that document the conversation between Gennarino Pesce/Eddie Fish and the investigator from Naples, Italy. Images are copyright to the Center for Migration Studies and are part of the St. Raphael Collection.

Justice Neal’s memorandum, “The Homeland Security Act of 2002…. It also introduced a new term — unaccompanied alien child — to define a child who has no lawful immigration status in the United States, has not attained 18 years of age, and who has no parent or legal guardian in the United States… (2007).”  This clarifies what it is meant in the modern era to be a child immigrant who has entered the United States of America without making use of proper channels.  Throughout immigration history this instance has occurred, and with sometimes unfortunate results including deportation.

Immigrants who were not first or second class passengers were questioned and examined, in their native languages. The examination was both physical and a cursory sort of physical to determine fitness to enter the country.  The sick, broke or document-less were returned to their native country. There were questions to be answered, primarily designed to determine mental fitness of those travelling in third class on the steamships, or in the case of children deafness or if a child were mute.  Most importantly, these inquiries were used to determine if there was a means to start one’s new life in the new land such as having the required amount of funds.

The story of Gennarino Pesce/Eddie Fish is an account of one young boy’s attempt to return to his homeland and to the care of an aunt in Brooklyn NY.  To clarify:  Gennarino Pesce and Eddie Fish are the same boy. He was questioned by the investigator from Naples and revealed his name and that he could read and write English, that he had left the United States with his mother.  Because neither documentation nor family members (godfather in Chicago and aunt in Brooklyn) could be found he was ordered deported back to Italy.  By the time his birth certificate was found with an incorrect inscription of his name [Gennara rather than Gennaro] the deportation ship had already left.  Approximately six weeks later the boy returned to the States via another ship and upon arrival arrived at the St. Raphael Society where he was reunited with his aunt in Brooklyn (Image, 1910).

References

Bhabha, J. & Schmidt, S., “Seeking Asylum Alone: Unaccompanied and Separate Children and Refugee Protection in the U.S.,” Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2008, 127-138, 157, 162. Accessed March 12, 2015. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/226840971?accountid=1406

Passel, J., “Demography of Immigrant Youth: Past, Present and Future,” Immigrant Children, Vol. 21, No, 1, Spring 2011. Accessed April 27, 2015, Retrieved from http://futureofchildren.org/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=74&articleid=539&sectionid=3715

Gennarino Pesce, Image of Page 22, March 28, 1910.

St. Raphael Society, Center for Migration Studies, New York, NY.

Gennarino Pesce, Image of Page 21, March 28, 1910.

St. Raphael Society, Center for Migration Studies, New York, NY.

“Immigration in the Early 1900s,” EyeWitness to History, 2000. Accessed April 27, 2015, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com.

Neal, D., Memorandum: Operating Policies and Procedures Memorandum 07-01: Guidelines for Immigration Court Cases Involving Unaccompanied Alien Children, Falls Church, VA: Department of Justice,  May 22, 2007.

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