Maybe I should have a blog just for immigration myths.
There's a story about Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo that says his 11-year-old grandfather Joseph came to Ellis Island from Italy unaccompanied with a note pinned to his shirt directing that he be sent to Iowa, but he overshot Iowa and ended up in Denver 2 years later.
The story ignores the fact that an 11-year-old wandering off alone at Ellis Island in 1900 is as likely as one wandering through customs in 2006. There were hundreds of workers and immigrant aid society members at Ellis Island to assist and accommodate the recent immigrants. And how did poor Joseph eat on his trek and where did he sleep? Did no one help the child? Somehow the people of sepia-colored America are seen as quite different from people today.
Then there's the passenger list that shows 11-year-old Giuseppe with other Tancredo family members (sisters?) from Potenza on the ship Sicilian Prince landing at Ellis Island in 1903. As required, they each give the name and address of the person they are joining in the U.S. The women name their husbands; Giuseppe names his brother-in-law, Gerardo Marsico. The relatives all live in Denver at the same address.
When Grandpa Joe told the story of his arrival to his grandson Tom, did he forget he had family who traveled with him from Italy and who he lived among on Osage Street?
Tom Tancredo is proud that his grandparents wanted, above all, to leave Italy behind and to be American. He is one of the congressmen who wants to build a fence across the Mexican border because, he says, immigrants of today are different from those of a hundred years ago.