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.)

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