WASHINGTON - The federal government is opening the immigration files of millions of refugees, war brides, "enemy aliens" and other foreign nationals in the USA in the
first half of the 20th century.
A gold mine for historians, genealogists, scholars and descendants, the files include private details on such public figures as Spanish artist Salvador Dali as well as family heirlooms confiscated from Chinese laborers.
The immigration service signed an agreement Wednesday to transfer at least 21 million files to National Archives facilities near San Francisco and Kansas City. A searchable index is at www.uscis.gov/genealogy.
The files were compiled under the Alien Registration Act of 1940. They include photos, visa applications, birth certificates, personal letters and transcripts of
interrogations of celebrities and unknowns.
Documents in Guerino DeMarco's creased brown file show the gardener was arrested in 1942 and held for three months at New York's Ellis Island after visiting his mother in Italy.
Another Italian, Raffaele Annunziata, registered when he arrived from Salerno in 1948. Like others, he certified that he and his kin were not "idiots," "imbeciles,"
"feeble-minded" or "insane," and that he was not a "professional beggar" or "anarchist."
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