Ellis Island

Ellis Island

[ Oct.2016 ] On the second day in New York, we went to Ellis Island where all the immigrants from Europe historically went past.

We had bought the 9 am boat tickets, so we left our hotel early enough, but on the way, we took a wrong subway and in the end we had to run to the port.

But when we arrived, we found that the boats were leaving one after another, so we did not have any trouble taking the boat.

This ‘Statue Cruises’ boat stops at Liberty Island first where the Statue of Liberty is.

And most of the people got off there, but we stayed on the boat to Ellis Island.

Ellis Island was where the immigration office was from 1892 to 1954.

I borrowed the Japanese language audio guide to understand things well.

Apparently as many as 17 million people went through here.

The immigration office was needed because the second or third generation of the original immigrants started to alienate the new immigrants, although all of them, apart from the native Americans, were immigrants themselves.

There was a record of someone’s remark in the museum about Chinese immigrants saying “They do not fit to our white people’s culture”.

All those people who arrived in New York had to go to the hall which was on the first floor.

While they were climbing up the staircase, the people in charge were watching them from above and if they find someone who moved abnormally, they wrote some marks on his/her clothes with chalk.

And for example, people who had Trachoma were sent back.

There was a testimony of a member of a big family from Russia saying that her grandmother had a little boil on her finger and because of that the old woman was sent back by herself and no one saw her after that.

Although most of the people were cleared through Ellis Island to live in the US and only 1% were repatriated, the image I had was something like the scenes in Nazi films and that made me feel bad.

But in fact I think we need a similar system of immigration in Europe now.

Of course, we must not refuse people because of diseases, but we should refuse people with criminal records and those people who have strong religious ideologies against European common values.

The visit to Ellis Island made me think a lot and it was meaningful.

When we got back to the mainland, finally the sun came out.

We went to a ramen (Japanese noodle) restaurant listed in our guide book, but it was so popular that we had to wait too long.

So instead, we went to a hamburger restaurant nearby.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do – in America, we should eat hamburgers rather than ramen, shouldn’t we.

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