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The boy who was desperate to be an American
The boy who was desperate to be an American

There was a time in the United States when a youngster trying to enter the country illegally could be celebrated rather than vilified. In the last year, thousands of minors have been intercepted crossing the border with Mexico; none has been treated in the media like Benjamin Axelrod, my wife's great-grandfather and possibly the most persistent immigrant in our history. Axelrod was born in 1894 or 1895 in Russian Podolia (now part of Ukraine). He died in 1973 in Florida, a successful immigrant Jewish businessman, like so many others. But when my mother-in-law began to research her family history last year, she discovered that his story was much more remarkable: Her grandfather had once...

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