The Danger Encountered by Girl Immigrants 1880

The Commissioners of Emigration of New York have an imperative duty staring them in the face in connection with the women steerage passengers who arrive at Castle Garden. While there has been a great deal of sympathy expended upon immigrants whose hard earned dollars are taken from them by middle men and runners for railroads, there is no attention paid to another class, altogether deserving of protection and help.

It seems that in some way, not understood by the public, evil minded people discover the arrival of young and unprotected girls, and in several instances lately they have been kidnapped from the Garden soon after their arrival. On last Saturday a case of this kind came before the authorities and to the knowledge of the public, and through it facts in regard to other cases have been obtained.

The steamer that landed at dark on that evening brought over a young girl who was to join her aunt living in this city. Telegraphing her arrival to this relative, the young girl awaited a reply and was kept in suspense until Monday morning, the telegram for some reason not being delivered until that time. On Sunday afternoon as the girl, who is only sixteen years of age, waited for the coming of her kinswoman and was anxious, doubtless, to leave the strange place she was in, two fashionably dressed young men accosted her, addressing her by her name and informing her that they had come for her. They regretted the delay she had been subjected to.

The girl happily was suspicious of them and asked them several questions, among others the name of the person sending them. The right name was given, but when the clever girl inquired as to the sex of the person they betrayed themselves. "Man or woman?" was her query. "Man," was the response. "Wrong," was her reply, and when they insisted that they were not, she indignantly refused to talk further with them and they left. That girl owes it to her common sense that she is not today a prisoner in some vile den in New York, for these elegantly dressed strangers were, beyond a doubt, runners for such places, or intending her to become a denizen of one as their victim. Another young woman, less watchful and clear headed, was taken away from Castle Garden on the same day. A young man called for her, claiming to have been sent to take her to her destination, and she, confiding in his statements, went with him. Shortly after her father appeared and his grief and despair at the loss of his child affected the strangers about him. It is to be hoped that he will insist upon the Commissioners making a prompt and thorough search for her, and that the police authorities be informed of the business that is being practiced at the Garden.

When it is possible for a class of people to traffic in the souls and bodies of young girls, who are entrusted to the care of these Commissioners, it is time for them to make an investigation and find who among their employees are confederates of these villains. Very evident it is that they have confederates from whom they obtain the facts they are possessed of, and their detection is the first duty of the authorities. The Italian padrone system, about which there was so much popular indignation, vile as it was, does not surpass this iniquity in any respect; and if young foreigners come to our shores to be consigned to such a doom as girls kidnapped from Castle Garden most probably meet with, it would be well to notify the authorities abroad, and inform the immigrants of their probable fate. Surely such a crying evil will not be permitted to continue another day, nor will the Commissioners fail to take every means to secure the arrest of these fashionably dressed scoundrels, for whom hanging is entirely too good.

Website: The History
Article Name: Italian Immigration Abuses
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle August 22, 1880
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