16 June 2014

Italians Crowding Here. Thousands Of Almost Penniless Immigrants Arriving.

Tuesday, April 14, 1896
New York Tribune, p.5
Italians Crowding Here.
Thousand of Almost Penniless Immigrants Arriving
The Accommodations of Ellis Island Over-Taxed - Reasons Given for the Great Influx
     Italians have been coming to this country at a great rate for several weeks, and the authorities on Ellis Island are almost ready to throw up their hands in despair. Every incoming Mediterranean steamship brings a cargo of the excitable sons of sunny Italy, and a poor lot of prospective citizens they are.
     Nearly 4,000 immigrants have arrived here in the last two days, and with the exception of those on the steamships La Touraine and Etruria they are all from Southern Italy. On Sunday the Bolivia brought 1,376 and yesterday the Alesia, of the Fabre Line, added 1,064 to the lot. One Sunday 600 were detained for examination. Of this number about one half will be sent back. The richest of the new arrivals had only a few dollars, and among those detained there was not an average of $2.00 apiece, many of them, in fact being practically penniless. How they intended to subsist, they themselves did not know; but they appeared to believe that the States ran with milk and honey.
     The officials on the island are handling the arrivals as fast as possible, but cannot work fast enough to escape overcrowding the limited accommodations. Eight hundred remained on Ellis Island Sunday night, and 700 last night. Three boards of special inquiry were sitting all day yesterday, and they investigated more than 500 cases which came before them.
     Another feature of the present trouble at Ellis Island is the number of friends of immigrants who go over to the island. Every Italian has informed a friend or two on this side of his coming, and the friends gather all their friends and hie themselves to the Battery to make miserable the life of "Dick" Ganley and the other policemen stationed there. As many as can, and it is only necessary to get a pass from a steamship company, go to the island and the others crowd, often hundreds deep, in front of the "iron gate."  In fact the transport Arizona, according to the men at the Battery, is virtually an excursion boat in which to carry Italians for a harbor outing.
     Great is the fun of the Italians in the springtime with Uncle Sam's officers and Uncle Sam's boats. Dr. Senner, the Commissioner of Immigration, said yesterday that this year is bad enough, but it has not come up, as yet, to the record made in 1893.  In that year 42,000 Italians came into this port, but that was when the laws were even less stringent regarding immigration than now.  From the beginning of the Department year, July 1, 1895, to March 31, 1896, 32,000 Italians have landed, 9,000 landing in March.  There is practically nothing for these people to do. Not 10 per cent of them have tickets far beyond New York, and the majority of them will doubtless squat down here and wait for something to turn up. Among the reasons gien for the present swarm are Italy's political and financial conditions and the war in Abyssinia, for which the men fear they will be drafted. Since January 1, 16,000 Italian immigrants have arrived here, and reports from Naples inform the officials that about 15,000 are yet to be sent over, as soon as vessels are available, which will run the number of Italians arriving here this spring up to more than 30,000.
     At present Dr. Senner has to care for several hundred more immigrants every night than he has accommodations for. Plans have been submitted and accepted for added facilities for improvements, but nothing can be done while present congestion continues.
     Dr. Senner has another reason for the great immigration, and that is that the Italians, who are kept informed by their kindred here, are rushing in for fear that an educational qualification may keep them out later. The exodus, he believes, may be also helped along by various colonization schemes now on foot. To these the Doctor is opposed. Aside from the present Italian immigration he said the immigration had decreased 40 per cent since 1893. Thousands of these fellows believe that they can crowd into this country penniless, dirty and without means of livelihood, and there will be no objection; but the Commissioner thinks that when a few thousand have been deported, it will act as a check on the others of like condition. The steamship Belgravia, of the Anchor Line, is now on her way here with 1,400 Italians.


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