I’ve always felt like an “alien,” and aliens populate my books. This week’s New Yorker cover reminds me of my grandmother Carolina Watrobska, a Pole whose illegal escape from Ellis Island in 1921 was reported in the New York Times. Here is a condensed version of the article:
AIDS ALIEN SISTER TO SLIP INTO CITY
“Emaciated and pale from a hunger strike undertaken on behalf of her sister, Stefania Watrobska, 21 years old, was taken from Ellis Island yesterday. She was charged with violating Section 8 of the Immigration act in that she assisted an alien to land in the United States in violation of law.
“Stefania’s younger sister, Carolina, 18 years old, arrived here last week from Poland, but was ordered deported because the monthly quota of immigrants from that country had been exhausted. Stefania’s lawyer was unable to persuade the authorities to allow Carolina to enter, although her sisters would be glad to care for her.
“Last Friday, Stefania obtained a pass to visit Carolina at Ellis Island and took her place in the detention pen. Carolina slipped out and has not been seen since. The deception was discovered, and Stefania asserted she did not know Carolina’s whereabouts.
“When the authorities detained her, Stefania went on a hunger strike. She touched no food Saturday, Sunday, or yesterday, and when she was half carried into the Federal Building she almost collapsed. The United States Attorney who represented the Government said that if Carolina did not appear soon, Stefania would be deported instead.”
What’s your immigrant story?