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Episode 411
Produced and Narrated by Chris Gratien
Episode Consultant: Devin Naar
Series Consultant: Emily Pope-Obeda Script Editor: Sam Dolbee
with additional contributions by Devi Mays, Claudrena Harold, Victoria Saker Woeste, Sam Negri, and Louis Negri
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Leo lived in New York City with his family. Born and educated in the cosmopolitan Ottoman capital of Istanbul, he was now part of the vibrant and richly-textured social fabric of America's largest metropolis as one one of the tens of thousands of Sephardic Jews who migrated to the US. Though he spoke four languages, Leo held jobs such as garbage collector and shoeshine during the Great Depression. Sometimes he couldn't find any work at all. But his woes were compounded when immigration authorities discovered he had entered the US using fraudulent documents. Yet Leo was not alone; his story was the story of many Jewish migrants throughout the world during the interwar era who saw the gates closing before them at every turn. Through Leo and his brush with deportation, we examine the history of the US as would-be refuge for Jews facing persecution elsewhere, highlight the indelible link between anti-immigrant policy and illicit migration, and explore transformations in the history of race in New York City through the history of Leo and his family.

This episode is part of our investigative series Deporting Ottoman Americans.

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