Shockwaves from the catastrophe created by the Wall Street Crash of 1929, reverberated like an economic tsunami, through the Bahamas.
After the high profit Prohibition era (1920-1933), which made millionaires of some Bahamians, and those foreigners with the connections to get their liquor to the American mainland, the long term effects of the Wall Street Crash, seemed to reverse everything.
Americans suddenly had little money to take luxury holidays to Nassau, to throw pennies in the sea, for young negro boys, to dive for. The effects of 1929 made economic migrants of thousands of Bahamian peasants, across the islands.
As the meagre living made from American visitors began to wane, fruit and sponge exports also began to slowdown.
Bahamians began to take the desperate chance, on starting a new life, on the southern Florida coast.
(The Miami News, Monday, 03 June 1935)
As more and more Bahamians were being smuggled in, their numbers were difficult not to notice. Florida was strictly segregated. Negroes lived in the coloured section, venturing out into white areas looking for jobs.
With few employment opportunities available for West Indian negroes, in the 1930s, in the Miami area, the authorities were soon alerted to many negroes frequenting soup kitchens, begging on the streets, trying to get labourer jobs and failing all, applying for federal or local relief, in the forms of unemployment benefits.
(The Anniston Star, Sunday, 12 May 1935)
It wasn’t long before Dade County officials alerted immigration and federal authorities.
By August 1935, there were an estimated 2,000 illegal alien Bahamians in Dade County, Florida, who were facing being hunted down, and deported from the United States.