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"'And the longer you stay away from Ireland the better Irishman you are,' is the somewhat ambiguous motto of the wizened old man who sits next me in the third class railway carriage on the way to Wexford, county Wexford, Ireland. He follows up this Irish bon mot with the explanation that he is returning to his home after an absence of thirty-five years in the coal mines of Wales, that Ireland is a 'grand country,' and -- but, of course, the conversation turns to politics."
Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-10-14
"Crowded quarters have the advantage, if such it be, of sociability. By the third day of our trip we have learned a few statistics; eighty-eight children, a bride and groom, two patriarchs from Russia (if length of beard be any criterion), a London actor, a theological student from South Africa--we are as diversified as a ringside audience."
Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-10-20
"If 'twere done, 'twere well it were done quickly," is an axiom that cannot be applied in Ireland. So, between my determination to leave Wexford for america and my actual departure there is a long interval, made doubly long by doubts, disturbing stories of difficulties likely to befall me, and fear of the demands made by 'red tape.'"
Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-10-15
'At the conclusion of her testimony Representative Siegel of New York Commented that her statement of conditions and every criticism she had made had been confirmed in speeches made by Chairman Johnson and himself on the floor of the house. "I agree with you," he assured Miss Forbes, "that you have been accurate as to facts and that your statements have been correct. Many changes however, have been made at Ellis island since you were there, and some of the changes and improvements you have suggested today have been made and are now in operation."
The Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-12-21
"The president, after studying the disclosures of incompetence of employee and ill treatment of immigrants, came to the conclusion that the system of administration at the island is responsible for the conditions and ordered not only a shakeup in the force of inspectors but a revision of the rules and regulations which make it difficult to obtain properly qualified employees. Mr. Harding expressed the determination to clean up the island and thereby end the ceaseless complaints of arbitrary and inhumane treatment of immigrants."
The Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-11-05
"Secretary Davis says the criticisms written by Miss Genevieve Forbes of The Tribune after she had entered Ellis Island as an immigrant are 'grossly exaggerated,' although in reviewing conditions during the last two years he states that the Ellis Island force was badly disorganized during the war, and many of the men on duty there at the beginning of his administration were inexperienced."
The Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-11-29
Miss Forbes went through the immigration mill Mr. Davis has observed it as the secretary of labor might observe it. Is he so credulouas to believe that the eye of the secretary develops and encourages abuses? Does he believe that when the secretary of labor visists Ellis island his subordinates want to expose under his eyes everything that he as a right minded man could condemn? If Miss Forbes had been known as an American newspaper reporter she would not have had the experiences which fall to the lot of the immigrant. It was because she was regarded as an Irish immigrant girl that she had them and could see what happened to the people the United States is receiving as its future citizens.
The Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-12-21
"As a result of the trip of investigation made by Miss Genevieve Forbes and her consequent articles in The Chicago Tribune and The New York Daily News, there is already a notable change in the attitude of many officials handling the immigrants. On Ellis island the newcomers to America have good food, sanitary quarters and adequate sleeping arrangements. Though many officials are still intolerant and overbearing, the official brutality and uniformed savagery with which Miss Forbes reported she had to deal is being brought under control."
The Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-11-14
"W.W. Husband, commissioner general of immigration, came from Washington to attend the conference, which follows disclosures in a series of articles written by Miss Genevieve Forbes for The Chicago Tribune."
Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-11-03
"After my 'forcible release' from Ellis island, I return the next day as an American citizen to see if I can gain protection from the American eagle. I learn that inasmuch as most of the people calling at the island to claim relatives or friends are without influence, money or position, the major 'minor' officials treat them as much as they treat the immigrants. We go first to the information desk, make inquiry, and receive a pass. We are then shoved into a large 'bull pen' enclosed with a high wire fence and guarded by impudent youths, who order us about, ignore our questions, and refuse us any accurate information."
Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-10-26
"'And What's more, we don't need you to butt into our affairs,' is the way the chief inspector shows his approval of my humble and in the beginning, quite unargumentative efforts to help the five girls who have ben forbidden to telephone or telegraph relatives waiting for them while they are held at Ellis Island. The authorities will not release them until their relatives come to claim them; their relatives won't come until the girls notify them; the officials forbid the immigrants to communicate with the outside world. It seems an endless circle. I intimate as much to the inspector."
Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-10-25
"As we climb the stairs we catch glimpses of cages and bars. Self-important officials, holding their jobs because there is an Ellis island, yell and scream at us because we are at Ellis island. The noise is deafening; the procession incessant. At last we aer shoved into a large room with rows of benches, each marked with a different number and accommodating about 100. At the end of each bench is a raised platform and a desk before which an inspector is supposed to sit."
Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-10-24
"'All women and children ashore.' Down the narrow stairs we stumble, an emotionless, hesitant, frightened mass. And always the raucous voices of our two guards, hurling brusque ruthless, often profane commands at us. Even the women who have been most self-possessed are shaking. 'if my husband were here,' whispers one of the women, ' he'd punch that man, even if he had to go to jail for it.'"
Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-10-23
"'Damn you, you're in America now, get in line, d'ye hear? You're in America,' screams the illiterate, uncouth foreigner in charge fo the tender for Ellis Island, as he shoves us, a confused and stumbling mass of men, women and children, on to the upper platform of the ferry. About a third of our number get seats, the rest of us stand; crowded together in the narrow and dirty passage between the staircase and the benches. The floor is filthy."
Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-10-22
'of course they've got to have rules, but why can't they treat us as if we were decent when they enforce them?' asks a little English girl, between sobs, as she puts on her clothes after inspection at quarantine early Monday morning. Compelled from infancy to obey laws and to observe rules, we even some of the most rebellious or stupid of us, have left our native countries believing in the necessity of strictly enforced regulations. But when we see, at the threshold of our new home, petty officials using a bit of gold braid, a uniform, or a subordinate title as a means of insulting women, shaming girls, frightening children, and infuriating men, we cease to reason and begin to argue emotionally, often hysterically.
Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-10-21
We hate them as we love them, our fellow passengers in the steerage, which is the first indication that 'they' over whom first cabin travelers sentimentalize, has become the 'we' of our own circle. I, with five other girls from Queenstown, spend a sleeplessly sleepy night in a stuffy cabin with almost no ventilation. Up at 6:30, we hurry to breakfast, for we are at the first sitting. This is due, in part, to the difference in food for the Jewish groups, who compromise much of the continental delegation, in part to the protest made by the English speaking passengers for preference.
Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-10-19
"On Board Ship, At Last, On Way to Ellis Island" - Genevieve Forbes Herrick - The Chicago Daily Tribune
Lack of education, what excuses are made in thy academic name. The rejected immigrant, loath to admit disqualification on the score fo morals, cleanliness, or health, prefers to blame all his troubles on inability to read and write. As a result, when we go to the inspector's office at Queenstown, we find an inconsistently large group of 'literate illiterates.' We all know the subterfuge, but we play the game, not so much through loyalty as through fear lest it may also be our game.
Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-10-18
A rolling stone may gather almost no moss; but it certainly accumulates the maximum amount of official papers and documents, all marked "important." By the time I reach the office of the American consulate at Dublin, anticipation had ceased to hold any charm. Each new office entered means a new stipulation hurled at me, until the whole world, officially, seems to be saying, 'I dare you to get out of this country.'"
Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-10-17
By the time our little group reaches Dublin we have enlarged it to include several more bound for America. There is Bill, the handsome New York policeman who has been home for a visit in Limerick. And Mar McGinn, with gorgeous red hair and "a hairy" coat. Mr. McKee hastens to tell us he has. been working eight years in a Detroit automobile factory. Of course, he is authority on everything.
Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-10-16
From emigrant to immigrant. The transition is more fundamental than a change in spelling. Less than three weeks ago I, a "greenhorn" Irish girl, dressed in a homemade blue suit, a bow of green ribbon in the buttonhole, a green felt hat and heavy Irish clogs, leaned out of a third class carriage at Wexford, County Wexford, Ireland, and waved good-by to the group of friends who wished me good luck in America, the promised land, whither I was going to get a "job with my girl friend."
Chicago Daily Tribune 1921-10-13
XV-"Brown: 'It's wrong for a civilized society...'" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald Examiner
From the beginning of the conversation, it was clear that Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. knew little about the machinations of the state's $3.5 billion garment industry. But he seemed eager to learn. "What's going on in this industry?" he asked at the beginning of the interview. "Do the laws work to protect the workers? Is everyone making minimum wage? Who is responsibile for the violations?" I told him my story about rampant labor and health code abuses. He seemed slightly incredulous. Could this still be going on in California? And then he appeared upset to hear that a bill recently signed into law would not solve the problem. "Why couldn't my people get manufacturers held jointly liable with contractors for all the violations?" he asked indignantly. Standing in the living room of his sparsely furnished home in Laurel Canyon, Brown reached for the telephone. Within moments, Don Vial, the director of California's Department of Industrial Regulations, and a member of Brown's governing Cabinet, was on the speakerphone. Now it was a three-way conversation.
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner 1981-01-30
XIII-"Who are the players? What are the problems?" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner
What stands in the way of cleaning up California's rapidly growing $3.5 billion garment industry, centered in Los Angeles and officially recognized as "the dirtiest in the state"? After an intensive eight-month investigation, which included a month's undercover work posing as an illegal garment worker, the Herald Examiner discovered that the garment industry's major problems revolve around the manufacturers, not the contractors. These people, the manufacturers, control the purse strings of the industry yet are not held legally accountable for the health and labor conditions under which their garments are made.
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner 1981-01-28
Talk to major retailers in Los Angeles, the impeccably dressed corporate executives who reap grand profits from selling high fashion and style, and they will completely disavow the problems of the garment industry. But talk to labor commission officials or even spokesmen from various contractors' or manufacturers associations, and they will tell you that until big retailers agree to accept responsibility for their part in perpetuating flagrant labor and health code violations, the industry will continue to be "the dirtiest in the state."
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner 1981-01-27
If Linwood Melton was a good example of a manufacturer insinuated from the exploitation of the industry, Norman Blomberg, the president of Sauci Inc., an $8 million budget-blouse company, was someone who seemed to know the story. "So it's a horrifying business. What's new?" Blomberg said when I told him the conditions under which I worked on his rose-and-cream-colored short-sleeved blouse at Felix Mendoza's shop. He seemed sure of himself, a man with arough exterior.
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner 1981-01-26
Felix Mendoza is the first to admit that he should go out of business. No excuses. No bitterness. He says there is hardly a chance to make a go of it as a garment contractor in Los Angeles. You remember Mendoza. He was the slightly built man who thought I was another poor illegal and gave me a job in his small and dank sewing factory near Central Los Angeles. His shop was filthy, nightmarish. And for a full week's work, I earned a pitiful $38.74
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner 1981-01-23
The manufacturers' response to knowing I worked on their garments seemed miled to the way Oscar and Martha Herrera greeted the news that I was a journalist, not a Brazillian garment worker. The first time I entered the shop as a newspaper reporter, one sunny Tuesday afternoon, the Herrera's responded to me cooly but politely. Oscar stood over the mangle, swiftly arranging the blue trousers on the roller before he lowered the steaming top. As I approached, he looked up with a puzzled expression on his face. Some of the other workers that had befriended me when I worked in the shop came forward, like Sergio from Guatemala. He recognized me immediately and smiled. He knew something was up.
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner 1981-01-22
VII-"'I"m not Joan of Arc. I'm a garment manufacturer.'" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner
To hear wealthy dress manufacturers Richard Freedman and Lowell Meyer talk, you would think that single-handedly they overcame the recession and every other obstacle in a competitive business, to put their firm on top. Listening to smooth-talking women's sportswear manufacturer Warren Handler talk, you would think that all it took for him to succeed was good design and lots of hard work. And I might have believed them, all of them - had I not been demeaned and exploited as a worker in one of their contractor's unhealthful shops. Or had I not know about the manufacturers' sanctioned edge over everyone else in the Los Angeles germent industry.
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner 1981-01-21
VI-"Merlina faces the labor commissioner - and wins" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner
The offices of the state labor commissioner, on the fifth floor at 107 S. Broadway, are painted hospital green and off white, a no-nonsense kind of place. In the large, rectangular shaped entry room, clerks stand behind an old, built-in wooden counter that divides the space into offices and a waiting room. That day, nearly everyone in the waiting room was either black or spoke Spanish. I never would have complained to the Labor Commission had I not know that what happened to me at Ernst Strauss Inc. happens to garment workers every day. Labor Department officials believe that many employers regularly refuse to pay but because the workers are largely undocumented - an estimated 90 percent of them in Los Angeles are here without papers- they get away with it.
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner 1981-01-20
Make no mistake about the quality of the operation over at the union-organized Ernst Strauss Inc. The shop, maker of very expensive, fine-quality women's suits and coats, is considered the best in Los Angeles. Ask garment industry leaders, union officals, ask the owners themselves. "The pay is the highest in California - maybe the country," said one owner. "The workers are so loyal you couldn't beat them away. " said another. "It's a union shop," explained someone from the International Ladie's Garment Worker's Union. "A 30-year member. Everything is done right." But "right in the undisputed best shop in town is a relative term. On June 12, a Thursday, I went to work as a sewing machine operator in Ernst Strauss factory. As before, I posed as a poor, illegal brazillian germent worker. I no speak English. Espanol, por favor.
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner 1981-01-19
The Los Angeles Country Health Department found Felix Mendoza's shop a full month before I knocked on the door looking for work there. Since October 1979, when a county ordinance mandated the Health Department to locate and license the estimated 3,000 sewing shops in Los Angeles County, health officials have been trying to clean up what Richard Dinnerline, L.A. county chief of occupational health, called "the filthiest of all industries." According the the Health Department's Dec. 30 1980 figures, 2,746 garment factories have been found and licenced in the past year. Health officials believe there are hundreds more, especially in outlying areas of the county where immigrant workers often live.
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner 1981-01-16
I was beginning my second odyssey into the $35 billion California germent industry, another weekling, nine-hour-a-day journey into the underworld of fancy clothes and high style. I knocked on the wooden door behind the grate at 331 N. Mountain View in Los Angeles. Just when I thought no one would answer, a small, thin, dark-eyed man slowly opened the door. He was Felix Mendoza, a Mexican-born sewing contractor who had been in business for only six months. "I'm looking for work," I said in Spanish through the bars. "Can you sew?" he asked. It was his only question.
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner 1981-01-15
It was almost 5 P.M. on a Tuesday when I stepped out of the elevator onto the factory room floor. I stood quietly, looking anxiously to both sides of the now empty sewing shop. Near the entrance, a dark-haired man in a white t-shirt stood working at a long, wooden table piled high with red cloth. His name: Oscar Herrera, owner of the shop. Late afternoon light filtered through the rows of sooty windows that formed one entire wall of the large production room. He motioned for me. "Venga venga! Come here!" he said in Spanish. "What are you looking for?" "Busco trabajo. I am looking for work," I said nervously. "Do you know how to sew?" he countered. I nodded yes, not wanting to lie outright. He told me they had work and that if I could make this jacket - he walked over to a rack of clothes and held up a white blazer - and this dress - he held up a short-sleeved red one - I could have a job.
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner 1981-01-14
Enrique's mother pays smugglers to get him across the Rio Grande and then to her in North Carolina. She cannot sleep. She has visions of him dead. At 1 a.m., Enrique waits on the edge of the water. "If you get caught, I don't know you," says the man called El Tirindaro. He is stern. Enrique nods. So do two other immigrants, a Mexican brother and sister, waiting with him. They strip to their underwear. Across the Rio Grande stands a 50-foot pole equipped with U.S. Border Patrol cameras. In daylight, Enrique has counted four sport utility vehicles near the pole, each with agents. Now, in the darkness, he cannot see any. He leaves it up to El Tirindaro, a subspecies of smuggler known as a patero because he pushes people across the river on inner tubes by paddling soundlessly with his feet, like a pato, or duck. El Tirindaro has spent hours at this spot studying everything that moves on the other side. Enrique, 17, tears up a small piece of paper and scatters it on the riverbank. It is his mother's phone number. He has memorized it. Now the agents cannot use it to locate and deport her. She left him behind in Honduras more than 11 years ago and entered the United States illegally to seek work. In all, Enrique has spent four months trying to find her. El Tirindaro holds an inner tube. The Mexicans climb on. He paddles them to an island in midstream. He returns for Enrique with the tube. He steadies it in the water. Carefully, Enrique climbs aboard. The Rio Bravo, as it is called here, is swollen with rain. Two nights before, it had killed a youngster he knew. Enrique cannot swim, and he is afraid. El Tirindaro places a plastic garbage bag on Enrique's lap. It contains dry clothing for the four of them. Then El Tirindaro paddles and starts to push. A swift current grabs the tube and sweeps it into the river. Wind whips off Enrique's cap. Drizzle coats his face. He dips in a hand. The water is cold.
Los Angeles Times 2002-10-07
Enrique is stuck on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, watching, listening and planning. Somewhere on the other side, in the United States, is his mother. You are in American territory," a Border Patrol agent shouts into a bullhorn. "Turn back." Sometimes Enrique strips and wades into the Rio Grande to cool off. But the bullhorn always stops him. He goes back. "Thank you for returning to your country." He is stymied. For days, Enrique, 17, has been stuck in Nuevo Laredo, on the southern bank of the Rio Bravo, as it is called here. He has been watching, listening and trying to plan. Somewhere across this milky green ribbon of water is his mother. She left him behind 11 years ago in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to seek work in the United States. Enrique is challenging the unknown to find her. During her most recent telephone call, she said she was in North Carolina. He has no idea if she is still there, where that is or how to reach it. He no longer has her phone number. He had written it on a scrap of paper, but it blew away while he was being robbed and beaten almost four weeks ago on a freight train in southern Mexico. He did not think to memorize it.
Los Angeles Times Sunday, October 6, 2002
From the top of his rolling freight car, Enrique sees a figure of Christ. In the fields of Veracruz state, among farmers and their donkeys piled with sugar cane, rises a mountain. It towers over the train he is riding. At the summit stands a statue of Jesus. It is 60 feet tall, dressed in white, with a pink tunic. The statue stretches out both arms. They reach toward Enrique and his fellow wayfarers on top of their rolling freight cars. Some stare silently. Others whisper a prayer. It is early April 2000, and they have made it nearly a third of the way up the length of Mexico, a handful of immigrants, riding on boxcars, tank cars and hoppers. Enrique is 17. He is one of an estimated 48,000 Central American and Mexican children who go to the United States alone every year. Many are searching for their mothers, who have left for El Norte to find work and never come back. Many credit religious faith for their progress. They pray on top of the train cars. At stops, they kneel along the tracks, asking God for help and guidance. They ask him to keep them alive until they reach El Norte. They ask him to protect them against bandits, who rob and beat them; police, who shake them down; and la migra, the Mexican immigration authorities, who deport them.
Los Angeles Times 2002-10-04
As Enrique enters Mexico's southernmost state of Chiapas, he knows why immigrants call it "the beast." Bandits, street gangs and police will be out to get him. Even tree branches scraping the boxcars may hurl him from the train. But he will take those risks. He needs to find his mother. Enrique wades chest-deep across a river. He is 5 feet tall, stoop-shouldered and cannot swim. The logo on his cap boasts hollowly, "No Fear." The river, the Rio Suchiate, forms the border. Behind him is Guatemala. Ahead is Mexico, with its southernmost state of Chiapas. "Ahora nos enfrentamos a la bestia," immigrants say when they enter Chiapas. "Now we face the beast." Painfully, Enrique, 17, has learned a lot about "the beast." In Chiapas, bandits will be out to rob him, police will try to shake him down, and street gangs might kill him. But he will take those risks, because he needs to find his mother. When he was 5 years old, she left him in Honduras and joined hundreds of thousands of women from Central America and Mexico seeking work in the United States. An estimated 48,000 youngsters go north alone every year, many to search for their mothers. This is Enrique's eighth attempt to reach El Norte. First, always, comes the beast. About Chiapas, Enrique has discovered several important things. In Chiapas, do not take buses, which must pass through nine permanent immigration checkpoints. A freight train faces checkpoints as well, but Enrique can jump off as it brakes, and if he runs fast enough, he might sneak around and meet the train on the other side. In Chiapas, never ride alone.
Los Angeles Times 2002-10-02
His quiet vow to villagers: 'I'm going to find my mom'. The day's work is done at Las Anonas, a rail-side hamlet of 36 families in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, when a field hand, Sirenio Gomez Fuentes, sees a startling sight: a battered and bleeding boy, naked except for his undershorts. It is Enrique. He limps forward on bare feet, stumbling one way, then another. His right shin is gashed. His upper lip is split. The left side of his face is swollen. He is crying. Gomez hears him whisper, "Give me water, please." The knot of apprehension in Sirenio Gomez melts into pity. He runs into his thatched hut, fills a cup and gives it to Enrique. "Do you have a pair of pants?" Enrique asks. Gomez dashes back inside and fetches some. There are holes in the crotch and the knees, but they will do. Then, with kindness, Gomez directs Enrique to Carlos Carrasco, the mayor of Las Anonas. Whatever has happened, maybe he can help. Enrique hobbles down a dirt road into the heart of the little town. He encounters a man on a horse. Could he help him find the mayor? "That's me," the man says. He stops and stares. "Did you fall from the train?" Again, Enrique begins to cry.
Los Angeles Times 2002-09-30
The boy does not understand. His mother is not talking to him. She will not even look at him. Enrique has no hint of what she is going to do. Lourdes knows. She understands, as only a mother can, the terror she is about to inflict, the ache Enrique will feel and finally the emptiness. What will become of him? Already he will not let anyone else feed or bathe him. He loves her deeply, as only a son can. With Lourdes, he is a chatterbox. "Mira, Mami." Look, Mom, he says softly, asking her questions about everything he sees. Without her, he is so shy it is crushing.Slowly, she walks out onto the porch. Enrique clings to her pant leg. Beside her, he is tiny. Lourdes loves him so much she cannot bring herself to say a word. She cannot carry his picture. It would melt her resolve. She cannot hug him. He is 5 years old. They live on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, in Honduras. She can barely afford food for him and his sister, Belky, who is 7. Lourdes, 24, scrubs other people's laundry in a muddy river. She fills a wooden box with gum and crackers and cigarettes, and she finds a spot where she can squat on a dusty sidewalk next to the downtown Pizza Hut and sell the items to passersby. The sidewalk is Enrique's playground.
Los Angeles Times 2002-09-29