National Archive Post #3

Paul Hogue

On the 3rd and final day of researching the National Archive Center, I found three documents from the INS on a 33-year-old South Asian immigrant of Indian descent in Montreal, Canada, by the name of Wattan Singh Pansar from file number 55986-264. He was living in Montreal because he needed to get a work visa to come to America and was waiting for approval from the INS.  The first letter was written on May 23, 1939, by Margaret E. Stevenson who worked in the Notary Public. The letter is about approval from INS to let Pansar into America so that he could go to training at his job at “RCA Manufacturing Company Inc,” which was a manufacturing company that specialized in manufacturing electronics for radio usage.  The document says that the purpose of the training “opportunity to improve himself in the art of servicing your petitioner’s products, and further of becoming more familiar with such products.”[1] The next letter was from Washington D.C. District Director of INS  J.L. Hughes giving his approval for Wattan to come to America saying: “It is a petitioned that the alien be granted a waiver of the excluded provisions of the contract labor section of the Immigration Laws, as one who may be temporarily admitted under the designated status of Student-Laborer.”[2] The last was from immigrant inspector Charles V. Nellet who gave his approval after doing a thorough background check on Wattan immigration status so that he can head to America. Each of the documents gives the reasons why they approved for Wattan to go to the U.S. from Montreal, Canada.

The letter from the INS approves of him being able to stay in America and work at the company.  The letter gives details with praises that his boss gave him so that they can give them an understanding of who he is as an employee. It shows how a boss’s role in getting an employee a visa for work is very critical.  This letter shows the process of getting approved for a work visa and a glimpse of the reasons for approval for an immigrant who planned on coming to America to work.

What the letter represents is the admiration of a white boss for an immigrant. Immigrants faced discrimination because of their ethnicity and the fears of taking over the jobs of American born citizens.  Americans did not want immigrants moving up either because they did not want them to have that much power with leadership. From the past documents, I read from the previous trip to the National Archive, they usually consisted of a deportation letter sent to an immigrant because of them being in the U.S. illegally. 

Reading a document that features praises and reasons why an immigrant should stay in America is amazing. It shows how an immigrant’s hard work to be accepted in his job. Even though he probably had to go through a lot, he was able to persevere through hard work to move up and given a visa to come to America to further his job skills.  It shows the trust that the company had for him to go to this training.

[1] Margaret, INS commissioner, Camden, New Jersey, May 23, 1939, File 55986-264, INS approval letter, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, (National Archives, Washington D.C.)

[2] J.L., INS District Director, Washington D.C., March 31, 1939, File 55986-264, INS approval letter, records of Immigration and Naturalization Service, (National Archives, Washington D.C.)

National Archive Post #2

Paul Hogue

On my most recent trip to the National Archive Center, I was able to uncover more information on South Asian immigration. I examined documents that came from people who emigrated to America from places such as India, China, and Japan. These documents gave details of why some of these immigrants chose to come illegally, as well as the police reports of those who were arrested on U.S. soil. These records came from across the United States such as: Arizona, California, New York, and Texas. Through my research I came across a report about a convicted smuggler from British India, of a man named Ram Singh.

The first document I was able to find was a letter from November 17, 1928, between the Honorable John G. Sargent, his assistant secretary Robe Carl White, and the Attorney General about convicting smuggler Ram Singh. The letter detailed why Ram Singh was both arrested and convicted and why they believed that his parole should be denied. They wanted his parole denied because in what White explained: “violation of the immigration laws”[1] referring to an immigration law he broke that involves bringing illegal aliens into the United States.

Along with the documents I read I also found the border patrol arrest report of Singh’s, written by Joseph A. Conaty, who was the Acting District Director, to the Commissioner-General of Immigration in Washington, D.C.. The report explained Ram Singh’s arrest in Fish Springs, Imperial County, California by border patrol. Ram Singh was not only arrested for smuggling illegal Mexican immigrants but also for the contraband they found on him, which was food for another group of smugglers. The report gives details about how Ram and his partner Indr Singh planned the smuggling, and what he calls a “smuggling enterprise”[2] because of how many illegal immigrants they would transport to the United States.

While reading the documents, I was able to find a deportation letter for Ram Singh from the Acting Commissioner of Immigration George J. Harris dated August 22, 1928 to the Commissioner of Immigration at the Angel Island Station, a U.S. Bureau of Inspection and Detention for illegal immigrants in San Francisco, California. In the letter Commissioner Harris explains that he wants Ram Singh to be sent back to his home country of British India, because of his role in smuggling illegal aliens from Mexico into Mexicali, California. He used Section 8 of the Immigration Act for his basis of the argument to deport him. Section 8 states that “Any person who… encourages or induces an alien to… reside…knowing or reckless disregard of the fact such…residence…in violation of the law, shall be punished as provided…for each alien in respect to whom such a violation occurs…imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both”[3]. The section was an important argument for the commissioner to use because Singh was smuggling aliens out of personal convictions for expanding his and Indr enterprise.

I also found the arrest warrant for Singh by the U.S. Department of Labor Immigration Service District No.31 dated July 24, 1928, which was executed by Inspector Walter Bliss. The inspector gave him his rights and allowed him to explain to the court why he should stay in America. He also gave Ram a clean bill of good health based on how he looked. He does not write about if he received a proper medical evaluation, but just observed his physical features and presumed he was in good health. 

The last document I looked at was a court transcript between Ram and Inspector Bliss. The inspector was asking standard questions for immigrants who were in the country illegally; such as where their home countries are, how did they come to America, what is their purpose for being in America, and do they have family here. Then after that, he asked him about his smuggling operation of illegal aliens from Mexico coming to the U.S. It also showed Ram being sentenced to one year in prison for his role in the smuggling operation, but he was permitted to stay in the U.S. after his sentence was completed.

The material about Ram Singh was very informative and eye-opening. It showed the legal process that immigrants, here legally or not, must go through when they are convicted of a crime in the United States. These documents showed that immigrants go through the same process as someone who was born in the U.S., but they also have the added fear of not only going to jail but potentially getting deported to a country they worked so hard to leave once they are released.

[1] Robe Carl White, Assistant Secretary, letter, Los Angeles, California, November 14, 1928, File 55635-3; Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, (National Archives, Washington D.C.)

[2] Joseph A. Conaty, Acting District Director, Washington D.C., October 26, 1928, File 55635-; Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, (National Archives, Washington D.C.)

[3] Federal Immigration and Nationality Act Section 8 USC 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv)(b)(iii), accessed October 24, 2019,

National Archive Center post #1

Paul Hogue

The trip to the National Archive Center, in Washington, D.C., was very informational. My goal was to find documents about early South Asian immigration to the East Coast including marriage records and ship manifest. I was able to discover essential documents from these early 1900’s immigrants from Europe and East Asia that included: marriage records, letters between couples, ship manifest, deportation letters from the government, and letters between immigrants and the Department of Labor discussing citizenship status.  From that research, I came across a letter between the Board of Special Inquiry and Gastano P. Moronan, an immigrant from Goa, Portuguese, East India, translated from Portuguese to English it discusses his reasoning to remain in the United State.

The document reveals the conversation between Mr. Moronan and an inspector from the Department of Labor giving his reasoning of why Mr. Moronan should stay in America. The inspector, a man only listed as Bruno, ask Mr. Moronan standard questions such as; do you have relative in this country, how long have you been in the country, “do you have a seamen book or any discharges with you”[1] (he was able to provide papers confirming that he is a seaman) and do you have proof of papers. Overall, he was asked standard question that would be asked in an immigration court, pertaining to if he is eligible to stay in America.  The document shows in detail the court battles new immigrants had to go through in order to stay, if they were eligible to stay in America.

While looking at these documents, I noticed that they were immigrants that moved from Europe to Ellis Island, Manhattan, and Philadelphia. These documents disclosed reasons why each person wanted to stay in United States. For example, one stated that a man by the name Emile Taggbert, an immigrant from Switzerland, wanted to stay in United States because he was married to an American woman. His wife wrote a letter to the Department of Labor defending him so that he would not be deported; another document showed a letter of deportation from the Secretary of Labor stating that he had the right to appeal his deportation.

Hopefully, on the next trip to the National Archive Center, I can find more primary sources from South Asians immigrating to the East Coast. I will be able to find more material that consists of South Asian ship manifests, marriage records, letters of deportation, or letters to the Secretary of Labor petitioning for them to stay. I believe these are important because it gives an essential understanding of who they are and why they came to the United States. It also gives reasoning to why they left their countries of origin and came to the United States, and if they have any family that already immigrated to the United States previously.

[1] Bruno, Ellis Island, Immigrant Inspector, New York Harbor, N.Y., December 7, 1918, File 54436-253; Court Transcript, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, (National Archives, Washington, DC.)