In one instance, an application that Mr. Frank said he submitted in 1938 languished in an American consulate in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, amid a swell of similar applications and was lost in a bombing raid in 1940. Mr. Frank wrote to a friend that the extensive papers he had gathered as part of a visa application “have been destroyed there.”
In 1941, as Mr. Frank was again attempting to navigate the matrix of paperwork and sponsors necessary to immigrate, the United States government imposed a stricter review of applications for visas, grew suspicious of possible spies and saboteurs among Jewish refugees, and banned applicants with relatives in German-occupied countries.
The new research comes at a time when President Trump’s attempts to curb immigration have been likened to those in the World War II era. Mr. Trump has repeatedly sought to justify letting fewer people into the country by arguing that criminals and terrorists could be among the immigrants and refugees seeking to enter.
Mr. Breitman underscored those similarities, pointing to debates over immigration policy today and after Sept. 11. Mr. Breitman said that as Mr. Frank was trying to get to the United States, the country was instituting an “extreme cutback” on immigration.