Trump’s ban, and the day it was evoked, is all too coincidental with an unfortunate point in our country’s history. In the summer of 1939, the United States denied entry to over 937 Jewish refugee passengers onboard the St. Louis. These refugees were fleeing the Nazi threat in Germany. The ship was initially bound for Cuba, but the majority of the refugees were not allowed to disembark. The Cuban president at the time, Frederico Laredo Bru, then ordered the ship out of Cuban waters.
The St. Louis then changed course for Miami, with refugees hoping that the U.S. would grant them asylum. The ship floated off the port of Miami, while Jewish groups attempted negotiating with the U.S. government to allow the refugees to enter. Despite this, the U.S. denied the passengers entry, and forced the ship to return to Europe.
In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jewish educator Russel Neiss and Rabbi Charlie Schwartz created the Twitter page St. Louis Manifest. The page’s bio reads, “#WeRemember the victims of Naziism turned away at the doorstep of America in 1939 #RefugeesWelcome.”
Starting at 2:15 a.m. on that Friday, every five minutes Neiss and Schwartz remembered one of victims who were sent to their death after the St. Louis was forced to return to Europe.
The first tweet was, “My name is Herbert Ascher. The US turned me away at the border in 1939. I was murdered at Auschwitz.”
According to Neiss’ calculations, it takes 21 hours to post every name. Out of 252 tweets, 38 are accompanied by photos of the victims.
In 2016, 2,500 migrants and refugees have died trying to cross the Mediterranean into Europe. By closing the U.S. borders to these people, we very well may be sending them to their deaths just like the U.S. did with the St. Louis victims.