Destination: The Americas


Immigration & Naturalization
Archivist: Jody McKim

Alien Detention

Causes (Grounds) for Exclusion Noted on BSI (Board of Special Inquiry) Lists,
ca. 1903-1924

Immigrants detained faced only minor obstacles to their admission. The most commonly detained immigrants were women traveling alone (or with her children), destined to a husband, fiancé, or male relative. These women could not be admitted without assurance that someone would care for and protect them. A woman may have been held to wait for her husband to come collect her, or to wait until a response was received to a telegram informing her husband or relative of her arrival. Once it was known someone expected her, she could be sent forward via rail to her destination. The "Cause of Detention" in these cases usually reads "to husb[and]," or to father, mother, sister, brother, brother-in-law (b-i-l), uncle, etc. Then, in the "Disposition" column, one will read the name and address of the person to whom the immigrant was released, even if that person is at an address far from Ellis Island. If this information is preceded by the initials "R.R.," it means the passenger was sent forward via rail.

Often, immigrant aid societies took charge of these women (or children traveling alone) and guaranteed immigration officials of the immigrants' safe arrival at their proper destination. In these cases, the person to whom the immigrant was released may be the name of the aid society, such as "Hebrew Society," "Irish Home," etc.

Another common cause for detention was an immigrant's lack of tickets through to his or her final destination. The cause listed in these cases is typically "to Tel $," meaning a telegram had been sent to their relatives to send money for transportation fare. Once received, the immigrant was ticketed and released.

One will often see a time noted at top or at various points down the "Cause" column. This is the time of day (on the date noted at the top of the list) when the immigrant was detained.

The government also used the Record of Detained Aliens to capture administrative information. The "Discharged" column showed the name or initials of the Immigrant Inspector who decided to release the immigrant, which allowed for review of his work and decisions. The date and time of discharge not only recorded more information about the disposition of the individual case, but also contributed to statistics covering the average length of detention by cause, by nationality, or by Inspector.

The "Meals" column shows the number of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners consumed by each detained immigrant. This data was used to compute the monthly bills to steamship companies, who were responsible for the detention expenses of each excludable immigrant they brought to United States ports of entry.

 

 
13(c   Aliens ineligible to citizenship (after 1924)
ACC             Accompanying (an alien accompanying another alien who has been excluded)
ACL Contract laborers
ALCOHOLIC Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens
ANARCHIST Anarchistic or other subversive aliens
ASST Assisted alien
BEGGAR Paupers, professional beggars, and vagrants
C.D. Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens (Loathsome or dangerous contagious disease)
CERT Certificate, usually a Medical Certificate indicating illness or physical debility
CL Contract laborer
CONST Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens (constitutional psychopathic inferiority)
CRIPPLE Aliens likely to become public charges
D.C.D. Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens (Loathsome or dangerous contagious disease)
EPILEPTIC Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens
FAVUS Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens (Loathsome or dangerous contagious disease)
FEEBLE MINDED Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens
IDIOT Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens
ILLIT Illiterate
IMBICILE Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens
IMM Prostitutes, procurers, and like immoral classes
IMMORAL Prostitutes, procurers, and like immoral classes
INELIG Aliens ineligible to citizenship
INSANE Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliensMental or physical defectives and diseased aliens
L.D. Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens (Loathsome or dangerous contagious disease)
LCD Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens (Loathsome or dangerous contagious disease)
LPC charges Aliens likely to become public
M.D. Aliens with mental, physical, economic or educational disqualifications
MED Medical - Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens
MED CERT Medical Certificate, usually in combination with another abbreviation more specific to the ailment or problem involved
MENTAL Aliens with mental, physical, economic or educational disqualifications
MENTAL      Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens
MORAL TURP           Aliens convicted or admitting comission of a crime involving moral turpitude
P.D. Aliens with mental, physical, economic or educational disqualifications
PAUPER Paupers, professional beggars, and vagrants
PG Pregnant (note, this annotation may have another or an additional meaning, as it has been seen on the records of male passengers)
PHYSICAL Aliens with mental, physical, economic or educational disqualifications
PHYSICAL Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens
POLYGAMY Polygamists
PREG Pregnant
PRIOR             An alien who has been previously excluded from admission into the U.S. at a port of entry and deported
PROST Prostitutes, procurers, and like immoral classes
PSYCH Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens (constitutional psychopathic inferiority)
SENILE Aliens likely to become public charges
STOW Stowaway
TRACH Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens (Loathsome or dangerous contagious disease)
TRACHOMA Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens (Loathsome or dangerous contagious disease)
TUBERCULOSIS Mental or physical defectives and diseased aliens
UNDER 16 Children under 16 years of age, unaccompanied by or not coming to one or both parents
 VAGRANT     Paupers, professional beggars, and vagrants
Contributed by Rose Mary Keller Hughes

   

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US Research Archivist: Jody McKim

DVHH < Destination: The Americas < United States Genealogical Research Aids < Immigration & Naturalization < Alien Detention Causes (Grounds) for Exclusion

Last updated: Saturday April 21, 2012


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