|East European Jewish migrants and settlers in Belgium, 1880-1914: a transatlantic perspective|Caestecker, F.; Feys, T. (2010). East European Jewish migrants and settlers in Belgium, 1880-1914: a transatlantic perspective. East Eur. Jew. Aff. 40(3): 261-284. dx.doi.org/10.1080/13501674.2010.530422
In: East European Jewish Affairs. Institute of Jewish Affairs: London. ISSN 1350-1674, more
migration control; Jewish migration; refugees and emigrants; Jewishcharity; Belgian; Prussian and US border policy; Jewish community inAntwerp; Red Star Line; cholera; Ellis Island; quarantine; sovereignty;medical examination; Antwerp
This article analyses whether the Jews leaving Tsarist Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, part of the transatlantic mass migration of the end of the nineteenth century, became subject to state control. Most emigrants from Eastern Europe in this period passed through the ports of Bremen, Hamburg and Antwerp. In the 1880s only a few emigrants were not welcome in America and sent back to Europe, but economic competition and the supposed health threat immigrants posed meant the US became the trendsetter in implementing protectionist immigration policy in the 1890s. More emigrants were returned to Europe because of the newly erected US federal immigration control stations, but many more were denied the possibility to leave for the United States by the remote control mechanism which the American authorities enforced on the European authorities and the shipping companies. At the Russian–German border and the port of Antwerp, shipping companies stopped transit migrants who were deemed medically unacceptable by American standards. The shipping companies became subcontractors for the American authorities as they risked heavy fines if they transported unwanted emigrants. The Belgian authorities refused to collaborate with the Americans and defended their sovereignty, and made shipping companies in the port of Antwerp solely responsible for the American remote migration control. Due to the private migration control at the port of Antwerp transit migrants became stuck in Belgium. The Belgian authorities wanted these stranded migrants to return “home.” It seems that the number of stranded migrants remained manageable as the Belgian authorities did not make the shipping companies pay the bill. They were able to get away by making some symbolic gestures and these migrants were supported by charitable contributions from the local Jewish community.