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>Israel Faxx
>JN Aug. 5, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 142

Dakar Search Continues with US Assistance

An American nuclear submarine has begun searching for the crew of the Dakar submarine which disappeared Jan. 8, 1968, en route from Britain to Haifa. The US submarine has the most sophisticated sonar equipment available and officials are hopeful new information may be uncovered that will give a clue as to what happened to the vessel and its crew of 69.


Ellis Island: The Island of Tears

By Shelley Gollust (VOA-Washington)

Ellis Island in New York harbor saw the arrival of 12 million immigrants between 1892 and 1924. They came on ships from many countries including Ireland, Italy, Poland and Russia. Today, 40 percent of America's population has at least one family member who immigrated through Ellis Island. As someone once said, for many Americans it is holy ground. This is the experience of one immigrant on Ellis Island many years ago.

As the ship sails into New York harbor, the passengers crowd each other to get their first look at the Statue of Liberty. There she stands, arm raised high, holding the light of freedom. They have spent weeks inside the dark, wet ship. Now they are marched off to a small island. Everyone is tense. This place -- Ellis Island -- is a door into an unknown world. And no one can be sure what is on the other side of the door.

The immigrants enter a big building. It is made of red brick and stone, with big rounded windows. It is beautiful and proud, like a king's palace. Inside, the immigrants struggle up stairs to the Registry Room, the "Great Hall." Doctors and nurses watch them closely. Anyone who shows signs of weakness or sickness might be sent back home. Medical inspectors put marks on the clothes of those with possible health problems. An "E" means eye trouble. An "H" means heart disease. An "X" means mental disorders.

Next there is a legal inspection. Officials sit at tall tables at one end of the Great Hall. They ask questions, quickly. "Do you have a job? Do you have money? Are you an anarchist? Can you read and write?"

Hundreds of immigrants wait their turn in the Great Hall. Sunlight flows in through the rounded windows. Outside, across the water, they can see the tall buildings of New York City. The Great Hall is noisy with the sounds of different languages. There are joyful meetings as family members and friends greet new immigrants.

The inspections usually last a few hours. Then the immigrants walk down a divided set of stairs. It is called the "stairs of separation." The stairs on the left lead to the boat to New York City. The stairs on the right lead to the railroad office where immigrants can buy a ticket to travel to other parts of America.

The stairs in the center are for those who must stay on Ellis Island, temporarily. About 20 percent remain for several days or weeks. Some are sick. Others are held for legal reasons.

Only 2 percent of the total are forced to return home. The most common reason for rejection is infectious disease. Some people are sent back because they have no money or job skills. Some are unmarried women, traveling alone. Some are criminals, or people with unpopular political ideas.

A surprising fact is that many immigrants who were permitted to stay, did not stay for long. One of every three who came to America during the 1900s chose to return home again.

Those were busy days on Ellis Island as 5,000 immigrants moved through the center almost every day. There were 33 buildings where people ate, slept, and received medical care. There were representatives of 40 different religious, cultural and social service agencies. These groups helped immigrants find work or join family members already in America.

Conditions on Ellis Island were not always pleasant. The food was often bad. There were not enough beds. And those who were forced to stay waited days or weeks without knowing what would happen to them. So, there was a reason why Ellis Island also was known as the "island of tears."

1907 Was the busiest year on Ellis Island. More than 1 million immigrants passed through in that year. At the time, America needed workers. Immigrants were accepted quickly. Then an anti-immigration movement arose. Congress passed laws restricting immigration for people of some races and national groups.

Some immigrants continued to come to America through Ellis Island after 1924. But most of them already had been inspected and approved at American embassies in their home countries. Ellis Island began to be used mostly as a holding place for illegal immigrants. The United States Government finally closed the immigration center on Ellis Island in 1954.


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