One hundred years ago, it seemed that immigration to the United States would be a thing of the past. Congress had already forbidden most migration from Asia. In 1921 it began restricting migration from Europe. However, in 1921, the United States Catholic hierarchy organized within the National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC) its Bureau of Immigration. Since 2001, that organization has been known as Migration and Refugee Services (MRS), which is now a division of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The earliest records of the NCWC Bureau of Immigration’s main office in Washington, DC, and its busy port office in New York City, are located at the Center for Migration Studies of New York. What do these records of a century of action on behalf of immigrants have to tell us today?
Does something survive a hundred years by accident? In the cases of the Italian Welfare League, definitely not. The League’s papers, on deposit in the Center for Migration Studies archives, tells the story of generations of women who, while refashioning the League to meet the needs of their time, have also kept it in continuous operation for a century.
June 20 is World Refugee Day. This is a look back to a time when there was no World Refugee Day, but there were refugees.
The coronavirus pandemic’s heroes are the “essential worker,” the medical professionals tending the sick, the bus drivers and train conductors taking those professionals to work and home again, the ambulance crews bringing the desperately ill to the hospital, and the letter carriers, truck drivers, and bicyclists delivering mail, medicine, and food. For nineteenth and early twentieth-century immigrants, clergy were also essential workers.
In this post, Mary Brown and Nikhita Mendis discuss how sending victims of unrest and disasters back “home” has occurred throughout US history and elsewhere.
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.