the separation of families has been a problem within the US immigration system for many years. This post highlights some of the stories preserved in the National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC) Bureau of Immigration Records in the CMS archive when family separation was in the headlines and enforcement of immigration laws was seen as protecting American jobs.
Heightened focus on the “illegal immigrant” suggests that persons without status constitute a new phenomenon, but the issue of authorization to enter and remain in the United States stretches back to the end of the nineteenth century. One agency working with Ellis Island-era immigrants in danger of deportation was the Saint Raphael Society for the Protection of Italian Immigrants. This post examines some of the Society’s records, which includes stories and photographs of persons in danger of deportation.