Castle Garden Southwest

A professor of mine from the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon, Frances Cogan, is writing a new book on the Castle Garden Immigration Station, the precursor to Ellis Island.

Castle Garden was a hallmark of what Cogan calls “pragmatic idealism.” It was based on both an aknowledgment of the reality of immigration and a desire to do good by both the country and the people coming to it. Given the frothy gibberish that characterizes the current immigration debate, anything pragmatic should be welcomed by those not satisfied by political foam.

So, inspired by this radical contrast to the current thinking about immigration, Francie wrote a proposal for a new series of immigration stations in the Southwest built on the Castle Garden model. She sent the proposal toSenator John McCain. One of his field officers let Francie know that the senator was very, very not interested.

Since the proposal is interesting (and the lightning rejection by a politician of McCain’s stature is like a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for interesting ideas), I thought I would offer the proposal for download here. Thanks to Marshall for hosting the documents and Francie for writing them.

From Francie’s abstract:

The most practical plan to solve the illegal immigration problem along the Southwest border is to build a series of eight small immigration stations across California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The key to both national security and cost is to entice potential illegal immigrants to cross legally using a series of incentives which would make crossing at the border and being registered for a renewable green card a much better option than hazarding an illegal crossing through the desert. Enticements would include: granting a one year green card ID and work permit (renewable to five years, but with a yearly personal or signed renewal request); an immigrant’s five year portable group health insurance plan with nominal monthly premiums; use of an official labor exchange for jobs; a place to stay with food and shelter while waiting to get the job; and free transportation to the immigrant station and to bus station or airports to help the immigrants on their way.

The pilot program suggested throughout this report envisions the future particulars of such a single station, located in Nogales, AZ. Questions of operation, security, and humanitarian concerns, as well as possible financing possibilities, are included, as well as the scope of the problem of illegal immigration today and the solution. The plan described is based on the highly successful New York City Castle Garden Immigrant Depot, and accoutrements and policies when processing eight million immigrants arriving in the U.S. between 1855 and 1890.

Dowload the proposal here:

Castle Garden Southwest proposal

Castle Garden Southwest appendix

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