Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island

Posted at

Tasneem Raja, Moyers & Company / Op-Ed

An unaccompanied child migrant was the first person in line on opening day of the new immigration station at Ellis Island. Her name was Annie Moore, and that day, January 1, 1892, happened to be her 15th birthday. She had traveled with her two little brothers from Cork County, Ireland, and when they walked off the gangplank, she was awarded a certificate and a $10 gold coin for being the first to register. Today, a statue of Annie stands on the island, a testament to the courage of millions of children who passed through those same doors, often traveling without an older family member to help them along.

Of course, not everyone was lining up to give Annie and her fellow passengers a warm welcome. Alarmists painted immigrants — children included — as  disease-ridden job stealers bent on destroying the American way of life. And they’re still at it. On a CNN segment about the current crisis of child migrants from Central and South America, Michele Bachmann used the word “invaders” and warned of rape and other dangers posed to Americans by the influx. And last week, National Review scoffed at appeals to American ideals of compassion and charity, claiming Ellis Island officials had a strict send-’em-back policy when it came to children showing up alone.

Ellis Island

Immigrant children at Ellis Island, New York

That’s not true, according to Barry Moreno, a librarian at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and author of the book Children of Ellis Island. The Immigration Act of 1907 did indeed declare that unaccompanied children under 16 were not permitted to enter in the normal fashion. But it didn’t send them packing, either. Instead, the act set up a system in which unaccompanied children — many of whom were orphans — were kept in detention awaiting a special inquiry with immigration inspectors to determine their fate. At these hearings, local missionaries, synagogues, immigrant aid societies and private citizens would often step in and offer to take guardianship of the child, says Moreno.

In Annie’s case, her parents were waiting to receive her; they’d taken the same journey to New York three years before, looking for work. But according to Moreno, thousands of unaccompanied children came over without friends or family on the other side of the crossing, many of them stowaways. Moreno doesn’t know of an official count of how many children were naturalized this way, but he says it was fairly common. And he can point to at least one great success story, that of Henry Armetta, a 15-year-old stowaway from Palermo, Italy, who was sponsored by a local Italian man and went on to be an actor in films with Judy Garland and the Marx Brothers. “He’s one of the best known of the Ellis Island stowaways,” Moreno says.

Other children journeyed to Ellis Island alone because they had lost their parents, often to war or famine and had been sponsored by immigrant aid societies and other charities in America. The picture above shows eight Jewish children whose mothers had been killed in a Russian pogrom in 1905. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society had obtained “bonds” to sponsor their immigration, and they arrived at Ellis Island in 1908. As Moreno notes in his book, thousands of orphans came over thanks to such bonds, and after landing, many would travel on “orphan trains” to farms and small towns where their patrons had arranged their stay.

Ellis Island officials made several efforts to care for children detained on the island — those with parents and those without — who could be there for weeks at a time. Around 1900 a playground was constructed there with a sandbox, swings and slides. A group of about a dozen women known as “matrons” played games and sang songs with the children, many of whom they couldn’t easily communicate with due to language barriers. Later, a school room was created for them, and the Red Cross supplied a radio for the children to listen to.

And of course, many of those kids grew up to work tough jobs, start new businesses and create new jobs and pass significant amounts of wealth down to some of the very folks clamoring to “send ‘em back” today.

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Corporate Inversions: A “Get Out of Taxes Free” Card

From the Center for Effective Government (

If you don’t pay your taxes in America, you risk heavy fines or even jail time. That is, unless you are a major, profitable corporation able to merge with a firm registered in a low-tax country. American firms have been on a buying binge lately, but some of these mergers have little to do with extending product lines or growing market share and everything to do with shedding the responsibility to pay taxes in the United States.


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Highway Trust Fund Temporarily Saved, Unemployed Still Waiting on EUC

From the Center for Effective Government (

Legislation to save the National Highway Trust Fund temporarily uses funding from the same sources that had been included in bipartisan legislation to extend unemployment benefits. The funding, which could have supported the 3.1 million Americans who have been searching for work for more than six months, was instead used in a last-ditch effort to prevent an additional 700,000 Americans from becoming unemployed as a result of the National Highway Trust Fund’s expiration.


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Community Leaders, Advocates Call on Secretary of Transportation to Ban Use of Hazardous Rail Cars

Seek emergency order banning the use of hazardous rail cars to ship explosive crude oil

FireballThe fireball that followed the derailment and explosion of two trains, one carrying Bakken crude oil, on December 30, 2013, outside Casselton, ND.


Charlene Benton

President of the Ezra Prentice Homes Tenants Association, Albany, NY

July 15, 2014

Washington, D.C. —

Today, two national environmental organizations filed a formal legal petition to compel the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue an emergency order prohibiting the use of hazardous rail cars—known as DOT-111s—for shipping flammable Bakken crude oil. (See FAQ sheet for more info on petition.) The National Transportation Safety Board has repeatedly found that the DOT-111 tank cars are prone to puncture on impact, spilling oil and often triggering destructive fires and explosions. The Safety Board has made official recommendations to stop shipping crude oil in these hazardous tank cars, but the federal regulators have not heeded these pleas. (See quote sheet of on-record statements by public officials for more information.)

“These oil tankers have been called the Ford Pinto of the rails,” said Ben Stuckart, City Council president in Spokane, Washington. “National Transportation Board members, U.S. Senators, and local officials are all on record on the danger of these antiquated, unsafe rail cars. It’s long past time for the government to take action to protect communities like mine.” Officials estimate between 13 and 16 oil trains a week come through Spokane, a major hub for rail traffic, although those numbers would skyrocket if planned oil terminals on the West Coast are built. Spokane is one of many towns across the country that has seen an organized and strong community opposition to these trains.

In September 2013, in the wake of the deadly Lac-Mégantic and other rail disasters, the federal government began a rulemaking process to set new safety standards for crude oil rail cars. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has stated publicly that the DOT-111s will likely have to be phased out, and even questioned whether the industry’s replacement design is safe enough for U.S. communities. The draft rule is currently under review at the White House. But the groups believe that the process is moving too slowly and likely to drag on a year or more before a final rule is in place. While Secretary Foxx has issued emergency orders addressing other urgent safety issues, all the Department has done to date is urge shippers to use the safest tank cars in their fleets. Immediately banning the use of DOT-111 tank cars to ship Bakken crude would reduce the risk of punctures and oil spills by over 75 percent, according to rail industry estimates.

“The continued use of potentially unsafe DOT-111 train cars is a disaster waiting to happen. The people of Albany County are standing up today to ask the federal government take swift action to improve rail safety,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “In light of recent incidents in North America, a strong response from the federal government is needed to protect the public.” Trains carrying Bakken crude oil arrive daily into the Port of Albany, like many other towns across the country. Firefighters and first responders have hurried to train for impending disasters and increased risk.

“These exploding oil trains are in our backyards, where our kids play,” saidCharlene Benton, president of the Ezra Prentice Homes Tenants Association in Albany, NY. “We’re putting our children’s and our neighbors’ lives in jeopardy here. Over the last three years, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of these dangerous oil trains coming through our community. Our community has organized against these oil trains because we don’t want to be the site of another catastrophic disaster. We need a national emergency ban of these oil rail cars.”

The recent surge in U.S. oil production, much of it from Bakken shale, has led to a more than 4,000 percent increase in crude oil shipped by rail since 2005, mostly in long oil trains with as many as 120 cars and over 1.5 miles long. The Bakken crude has proven to be more explosive than shippers represented. And the Bakken crude has been shipped in the most dangerous tank cars on the market—the DOT-111s. The result has been oil spills, destructive fires, and explosions when oil trains have derailed. More oil spilled in train accidents in 2013 than the total in 1975–2012 combined. Canada has taken steps to ban many DOT-111s immediately and is phasing them out of hazardous transport altogether, which will shift even more of these tank cars to the U.S.

The petition follows closely on the announcement that the oil and rail industries have reached their own compromise proposal on rail safety, one that would only seek to slowly phase out dangerous DOT-111s over three years, and that would propose a weaker standard for new rail cars than the industry had previously proposed.

Meanwhile, it is estimated that 25 million Americans live in the dangerous blast zone along the nation’s rail lines. View a map of the nation’s rail lines and local actions against oil-by-rail and a map showing your proximity to an oil rail line.

The petitioners are Sierra Club and ForestEthics, represented by Earthjustice.

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Equal Pay for Women Would Mean a More Secure Retirement for All

Posted at

Kitty Lan, Campaign for America’s Future Op-Ed

The link is simple and clear: Women earn less than men in the workplace – almost $450 billion less in total each year nationwide – resulting in lower Social Security payments after retirement. The pay discrimination against women not only hurts their current well-being and future security, but also means tens of billions less in revenues to fund Social Security.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Social Security Works co-hosted a telephone press conference call today, releasing SSW’s research on how closing the gender pay gap can improve women’s Social Security benefits and strengthen the program’s finances. The conversation was also joined by Ben Veghte, Research Director at Social Security Works, and Stephanie Connolly, legislative and policy associate at Social Security Works.Equal Pay

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed 51 years ago. Despite having made tremendous gains, women still face discriminatory pay in the workplace, earning on average only 77 cents for each dollar earned by their male counterparts. The pay disparity affects all income levels – even women in higher earning fields are affected, the report says.

The impact of the pay gap is also long-term. Social Security benefits are based on lifetime earnings, so women are penalized in retirement because they were not compensated equally during their working years. For Americans over 65 today, women receive only $12,000 annually on average from Social Security, while men receive more than $16,000. Furthermore, statistics show that women live longer; that’s one reason women are more than 60 percent of all seniors relying on Social Security.

Women are receiving a quarter less in benefits than men each year, but more than three quarters of women rely on Social Security as their primary source of income. The damage of gender discrimination in the workplace thus becomes life-long.

DeLauro highlighted how Social Security is a fundamental cornerstone of our society, and further emphasized the growing importance of women in our workplace today. “Women only accounted for less than one-third of the workplace when the Equal Pay Act was passed. Today, we stand for half of the American workforce,” she said. She commended the Affordable Care Act for finally removing the discrimination towards women in health insurance policies, and calls for the elimination of gender income discrimination in the workplace.

Closing the gender pay gap would also strengthen Social Security finances. Right now the Social Security trust fund is projected to be able to pay full benefits through the year 2033, and would be able to pay 75 percent of benefits afterward. Modest changes to raise revenue coming into the trust fund, however, would assure that full benefits could be paid to future retirees for at least the next 75 years. The report says that if women’s income were equal to men with the same age and education levels, that would generate “tens of billions of additional Social Security revenue each year,” enough to “reduce Social Security’s projected long-term shortfall by roughly one-third.”

The American public agrees that closing the gender pay gap is not just a women’s issue – over 70 percent of the nation agrees that this country needs to continue to work to give men and women equality in the workplace.

So how can we fix the persisting problem of the gender pay gap?

An important first step is raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Increasing the minimum wage will affect 4.8 million working mothers. This increase will lead to additional income, additional Social Security revenue, and greater benefits after retirement.

Just passing the Equal Pay Act wasn’t enough. Our government must continue to hold corporations responsible and demand justice for women in the workplace. It’s time we finally make sure that women are being paid the same as men in the same jobs.

“Those who work hard and contribute to work and family should have adequate protections for themselves and their families when they retire, become disabled, or die,” the report said. “Eliminating the wage gap is especially critical to advancing these American values.”

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Take the #LiveTheWage Challenge—July 24–30, 2014

NOTE: Obviously if you are reading this in the weekly news update, it is past July 24. Don’t let that stop you! Just pick your seven days…

It’s been five years since Congress last raised the federal minimum wage. The current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is not keeping up with the current cost of living. Working full time to support a family shouldn’t mean living below the poverty line.

Someone who works full time on the minimum wage earns only $290 a week – after taking into account average housing costs and taxes, that is just $77 a week to spend on food and transportation. Could you live on $77 a week?

CHN encourages you to join the national movement to raise the minimum wage by taking the Live the Wage Challenge from July 24 – 30, 2014. Take the challenge and share your experiences with #LiveTheWage and #RaiseTheWage. For key facts, tips, and full details on how to participate visit and download this information sheet (PDF).
Be sure to share your experiences on social media and with your networks!

Sample Tweets:

  • I’m taking the #LiveTheWage challenge. My food, transportation and entertainment budget for the week is $77
  • I’m taking the #LiveTheWage challenge. Sen./Rep. XXX, will you take it with me?
  • Just spent $X.XX on groceries. I learned you can’t afford to buy milk or vegetables on a minimum wage. #LiveTheWage
  • Daily update: With 5 days to go, I only have $X.XX left in my budget. #LiveTheWage
  • I’m now over my #LiveTheWage budget by $X.XX and I still have X days to go.
  • #LiveTheWage Challenge shows incomes haven’t kept up w/ the cost of living. We need to #RaiseTheWage so Americans can make ends meet.
  • When workers can’t even make ends meet, how can they support businesses and grow our economy? #LiveTheWage #RaiseTheWage

Important Notes:

  • The Challenge is not a perfect mirror for the difficulty of making ends meet while earning the minimum wage. As a volunteer taking the Challenge, you’re not expected or encouraged to default on any legal, financial, work or family obligations.
  • You could fail, and in this case that is okay! “Live the Wage” is about bringing awareness to the struggles of living on the current federal minimum wage. For tips on how to participate visit,
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Once Upon a Time: An Analysis of the 2014-15 General Assembly Approved Budget

Posted by PA Budget and Policy Center on July 22, 2014 in


The $29.0 billion 2014-15 state General Fund budget enacted earlier this month fails to confront Pennsylvania’s serious revenue problems. Lawmakers pretended that the half billion dollar revenue shortfall in 2013-14 did not exist and “balanced” the 2014-15 budget with one-time transfers, accounting tricks, and phantom revenues.

The budget relies on a myriad of dubious revenue sources including an increase in collections well above what the Independent Fiscal Office projected, revenue from a proposed casino that does not yet have a gaming license, and federal approval of the governor’s “Healthy Pennsylvania” alternative to Medicaid expansion. If these revenues fail to materialize, it is quite likely that Pennsylvania will face a mid-year budget crisis.

Already, there are signs that revenue collections will head off course. On July 18, in response to a lawsuit challenging the governor’s plan to expand gas drilling in state forests and parks, the Corbett administration agreed not to lease any more state land for drilling until the court makes a ruling. The budget assumes that $95 million will be raised from these leases, however this revenue will be delayed if it arrives at all.

The final budget provides less than half of the education funding increase proposed in February, leaving many school districts to, once again, reduce programs for students. While there are some welcome increases in certain programs, they may be illusory, as the commonwealth may have to scale back spending before the end of the year.

The General Assembly and Governor Corbett could have put the Commonwealth on a responsible path by enacting a severance tax on natural gas drilling, imposing taxes on smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes, and closing corporate tax loopholes. Instead they deepened the Commonwealth’s financial problems by making additional corporate tax cuts.

Status: The General Assembly passed Appropriations bill (HB 2328),[1] which contains line-item funding for most of the commonwealth’s programs, just hours before the start of the fiscal year on July 1st. Governor Corbett initially withheld his signature, calling on legislators to make changes to the state pension program. Over the next few days, the legislature approved an amended version of the Fiscal Code bill (HB 278),[2] which is necessary to implement the 2014-15 budget plan. Governor Corbett approved both the budget and the Fiscal Code on July 10, but vetoed several line items worth $72.4 million (0.25% of the General Assembly budget), including $53 million of the General Assembly’s budget.

This analysis is based on the current version of both the Appropriations and Fiscal Code bills, after the Governor’s vetoes, and is subject to change as the General Assembly could attempt to override the Governor’s veto.


Download a PDF Version of this Analysis at

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1100 Calls a Week for 1100 Deportations a Day

From the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (

On June 30, 2014, President Obama announced that he is ready to take executive action to address our broken immigration system and keep families together. After years of fighting for just and humane immigration reform, this is welcome news for our communities. The Administration has not yet announced any specific plans, but the President signaled he would take action at the end of the summer. We hope that Presidential relief can provide an end to deportations while we wait for a permanent fix to our broken immigration system.

However, we also know that we cannot take executive action for granted.


Call-In Number: 866-473-5915

Once connected, you can choose to continue in English or Spanish.

Tell President Obama:

English: “I’m from [City, State, Community], I urge President Obama to keep his promise to fix as much of the immigration system as possible. The President has the authority to alleviate the suffering of our community. We ask him to provide the broadest possible administrative relief to our immigrant communities NOW!”

Español:“Soy de [Ciudad, Estado, Comunidad], recomiendo al presidente Obama a cumplir su promesa de cambiar el sistema de inmigración como sea posible. El Presidente tiene la autoridad para aliviar el sufrimiento de nuestra comunidad. Le pedimos que amplie el alivio administrativo a nuestras comunidades inmigrantes AHORA!”

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State Releases New Child Care Learning Standards

From Pre-K for PA (

The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning has posted the 2014 Infant, Toddler, and Pre-Kindergarten Learning Standards for Early Childhood.

Pennsylvania’s Learning Standards for Early Childhood are research-based according to age and development, and form the foundation for curriculum, assessment, instruction and intervention within early care and education programs.

The 2009 standards have been revised to reflect current research-based content and integration, and to align with the Pennsylvania Core Standards. All state-funded programs will have one year to transition to the 2014 Infant, Toddler and Pre-Kindergarten Standards.

Required implementation of the standards begins July 1, 2015.  In the meantime, all programs are encouraged to download and print the 2014 standards by going to

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Child Nutrition Reauthorization 101: Summer and Afterschool Meals Webinar

From the Food Research and Action Center (

August 06, 2014 2 p.m.

Register at


  • Katie Adamson, Senior Director of Health Partnerships and Policy, YMCA
  • Erik Peterson, Vice President of Policy, Afterschool Alliance
  • Kate Sims, Child Nutrition Policy Analyst, FRAC

Join us for the second webinar in our CNR 101 series as we take a look at the Summer and Afterschool Nutrition Programs. These vital out-of-school time programs are underutilized and reach only a fraction of the children who have access to school meals during the regular school day. The Child Nutrition Reauthorization is an excellent opportunity to invest in these programs in order to extend their reach to many more communities across the country.

During the call, we will discuss current and upcoming legislative opportunities to further improve these important programs. We’ll also share ideas from our field partners on how to address barriers to implementing summer and afterschool programs.

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