Harry Bridges in Ellis Island Era Immigration
Harry Bridges (1901-1990) was an Australian immigrant and the longtime president of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU), representing West Coast dockworkers. Bridges, a militant trade unionist, was also for many years a secret official of the Communist Party USA. In 1934, Bridges led the longshoremen to victory in a prolonged and sometimes violent strike against West Coast shipping interests.
Bridges migrated from Australia to America as a sailor in 1920. His prominence as a radical union leader, his connections to Communists, and his lack of American citizenship made him vulnerable to deportation by the government. Between 1939 and 1954, the government made five separate attempts to deport the labor leader. In every case, Bridges either prevailed in his deportation hearing or won on appeal. Thus, he was allowed to remain in the country and to keep his position with the ILWU, which he held until finally retiring in 1977.