Sunday, February 12, 2017

When Jews Were Limited From Immigrating Into the United States of America

Nadene Goldfoot                                            
Harry Shleifman, born in 1908, was lucky when his parents and he immigrated in 1922 from
Ekaterinoslav, Wiladnik, Russia-Poland to Liverpool, England to Ellis, Island, New York on April 10th  when he was 14.
He became a Cantor with a beautiful voice in a synagogue in Portland, Oregon.  If they had waited 2 more years, they probably wouldn't have made it.  

From 1820 to 1924, Jews were immigrating into the USA.
In 1820, 3,000 Jews entered.
In 1880, 300,000 entered.  Pogroms were going on in Europe against Jews, especially in Russia.
My Jewish  grandfather from Lithuania, Nathan Abraham Goldfus/foot  was in Dublin, Ireland's port on the Parisian headed for Winnipeg in 1893 but wound up in Council, Idaho marrying my grandmother in 1905.  Many Jews came in circuitous routes trying to get here on cheaper fares.  I never have found where he entered.  In those days, records were not kept very well.  He may have been a wet-back from Canada!  No one cared, then.  I don't think he ever got to see the Statue of Liberty.

"A limitation on Southern and Eastern European immigration was first proposed in 1909 by Senator Henry Cabot Lodge." This again targets Italians and Jews.  This population was made up of many poor people.  They have produced lawyers and doctors, a credit to their families.  Jews and Italians wound up living in South Portland's neighborhood together.  On one corner was an Italian deli and across from it on the other corner was the Jewish deli.  One could feast in those days!  The children attended Failing Grade School together.  Mel Blank was a student there that they all remembered.  There was one Black Boy at Failing, friend to all.  My father told me that they all succeeded in life.  Even the one that turned out to be a crook.  He was a BIG TIME crook!

 Anti-Semitism was in existence.  The famous Dryfus trial in France let Jews know that they were in a time of a lot of anti-Semitism.  This French Captain was found guilty of an act he was innocent of and condemned to life imprisonment in 1894.  It shocked and woke up the Jews of France and the rest of the world to anti-Semitism.

Italians and eastern European Jews were limited the most of all immigration.  It was a convoluted law by 1924.   Enacted May 26, 1924), called the Johnson-Reed Act "

Introduced by Congressman Albert Johnson in the House of Representatives and David Reed in the Senate, the Immigration Act of 1924 was intended to permanently restrict the immigration numbers from "undesirable” areas of the world— particularly from Russia and eastern Europe.   It was a United States federal law that limited the annual number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the United States as of the 1890 census,  So if 100 were living here in 1890, only 2 could enter in 1924.   That was cutting the number entering in 1921 which admitted 3% of those already here on 1910 census.   Then, if 200 were living here in 1910, they allowed 6 to enter.  Jews were put on a quota system of entering medical schools.  So many were able to pass the entrance exams that the officials felt others would never be able to get it.  So many capable students were turned away because of this quota.  

  • United States: Certain universities, most notably Harvard, introduced policies which effectively placed a quota on the number of Jews admitted to the university.  One American who fell victim to the Jewish quota was late physicist and Nobel laureate Richard P. Feynman, who was turned away from Columbia College in the 1930s and went to MIT instead.  According to historian David Oshinsky, on writing about Jonas Salk, "Most of the surrounding medical schools (CornellColumbiaPennsylvania, and Yale) had rigid quotas in place. In 1935 Yale accepted 76 applicants from a pool of 501. About 200 of those applicants were Jewish and only five got in." He notes that Dean Milton Winternitz's instructions were remarkably precise: "Never admit more than five Jews, take only two Italian Catholics, and take no blacks at all."    As a result, Oshinsky added, "Jonas Salk and hundreds like him" enrolled in New York University instead.

  • Reed College in Portland, Oregon opened their doors in 1908.  "Reed also never adopted the de facto quota system that kept the number of Jewish students small at many other elite colleges. This added to Reed’s appeal among a nationwide pool of prospective students.  
  • Robert Fernea testified, " “We had a lot of Jewish students, [which was] the outcome of the 
  • quota system for Jews and for women that still existed in Eastern colleges. And once that 
  • quota was passed, forget it. No matter how good you were. This was also true in some 
  • California schools. So I understood why a number of the students at Reed were from those 
  • backgrounds. How else would we get people coming all the way to Oregon from New 
  • York?”
    Jews who wanted an education used various ways to overcome this discrimination: bribing the authorities, changing their religion, or traveling to countries without such limitations. In Hungary, for example, 5,000 Jewish youngsters (including Edward Teller) left the country after the introduction of Numerus Clausus.

" This period of immigration came to an end with the passage of restrictive laws in 1921 and 1924. Jewish emigration from Eastern Europe to the United States never again reached the levels that it did before 1920.

WWI had started in 1914, and Jews couldn't travel by ship on the ocean safely so immigration was curtailed.  People were afraid that after the war, the high numbers from Eastern Europe would pick up again.  "The war ended in 1918.   1919 brought the second highest number of immigrants of that entire wave of immigration"of Jews" to our shores; only in 1906 were the figures higher".

"The 1921 measure capped the number of immigrants allowed in at roughly 350,000 per year. It also established quotas for individual countries, derived from their percentage of the U.S. population. This was a rigged system, as those percentages included how many Americans were descended from that group’s original settlers. Some nations therefore received unusually large quotas, despite minimal immigration in the few years before the bill’s enactment. If ten people had arrived in 1750 from Great Britain, the number of that original cluster’s descendants would be huge by the 20thcentury. The base year, moreover, was set back a decade to 1910 to exclude from the figures all those who had recently arrived from war-torn Europe after the sea lanes were safe again in 1918. It was not immigrants in general who were blocked, but certain nationalities and religions.
Fiorello LaGuardia, Italian American New York mayor for 3 terms
from 1934 to 1945.  

Fiorello LaGuardia branded the 1924 act “the creation of a narrow mind. Nurtured by a hating heart.”

" In 1924, they revised them with another immigration act, even tougher. This law cut the overall yearly figure in half, to 165,000, and moved the base year to 1890, thus totally excluding from quota calculations not only recent arrivals but the entire generation of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. The quotas for some nations dropped substantially under this revision, went way up for others.
 Within the diminished total figure,
 legal immigration from Russia was limited to 2,248 a year,
 5,982 from Poland,
 3,845 from Italy.
 Germany, on the other hand, had a figure of 51,227,
 while Great Britain and Ireland combined were allowed 62,574 slots. 
In short, these bills were specifically designed to keep out not immigrants in general, but immigrants from specific places, places considered undesirable. Jews were those undesirables.  
Senator Thomas Sterling b: 1851, d: 1930
(in office from 1913 to 1925) Republican from South Dakota
probably never met a Jewish person in that state.  

Upon questioning, Senator Sterling agreed that this idea was specifically designed to limit the number of Jews from places like Russia and Poland. The proportion of Jews from these countries exceeded their proportion in their homeland’s population. While Sterling’s amendment never passed, it made the anti-Semitic aspect of the 1924 law very clear.

During year period prior to the 1921 law, 805,228 immigrants entered this country legally, 119,036 of whom were Jewish. In the year after the 1924 law, legal immigration to the United States dropped to 294,314, of whom only 10,292 were Jewish, a reduction of over 90 percent.

The 1924 law stayed "  It governed American immigration policy until the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which revised it completely.  

US immigration quotas from Germany were not filled in the early years of Nazism.

By September 1939, 95,000 German Jews had emigrated to the USA.  "President Franklin D. Roosevelt convened a conference in Evian, France, in July 1938. Despite the participation of delegates from 32 countries, including the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, and Australia, only the Dominican Republic agreed to accept additional refugees. The plight of German-Jewish refugees, persecuted at home and unwanted abroad, is also illustrated by the voyage of the "St. Louis.", the ship that Cuba turned back and would not allow them to land.  They were trying to get to the USA but lacked proper papers.  

Although finding a destination proved difficult, about 36,000 Jews left Germany and Austria in 1938 and 77,000 in 1939. For many, it just meant getting to the next nearest country in Europe, which didn't help them in the end. 

 German Jews were destitute. This means that the German Jews had been robbed by the German government and, after 1935, literally came without any money whatever. This made these refugees utterly dependent for food and shelter on anyone willing to help. Some had relatives and some had friends willing to do so. The majority depended on charitable organizations such as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

 My Uncle Werner's family of Westerburg, Germany,  were lucky to be able to afford getting him a ticket for the USA, but couldn't afford one for his younger sister or themselves.  He had already done a bout in Aushwitz before it was running full strength and that was enough to get him out first.  He had been picked up after  Kristallnacht, walking a cow to market.  He boarded the SS Washington on May 4, 1939, probably one of the last to get out of Germany.  My great uncle had been called upon to take responsibility for Werner from the Jewish Services, a private group.  He had to guarantee the USA that he was responsible financially for Werner.  The first thing he did was get him a job in my father's butcher shop.  Werner's mother had stuffed his suitcase with her good linen sheets.  That was all he could manage; one suitcase.  

We remember.  6 million Jews died in Europe that could not get out because of a maniac named Hitler who wanted all Jews dead, and the whole civilization of Europe could not stop him.  Instead, they appeased him in order to keep their heads.  They handed over the Jews.  

Updated: 7:11pm on Reed College Resource:
 See also Numerus clausus in the United States.

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