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Luigi Riccardo, the proprietor of a marionette theater in New York's Little Italy, eagerly anticipates the arrival of his wife Maria and daughter Tessa, whom he has not seen in five years. Luigi dreams of becoming an American citizen, but because he refuses to make graft payments to Regan, the ward boss, he is informed that he will not receive his naturalization papers. When Regan orders Dr. Ross, an Ellis Island physician, to classify Maria and Tessa as unfit to enter the country, Luigi becomes wild with grief. Newspaper reporter Sam Potts learns of the Italian's misfortune and, through local prizefighter Bump Rundle, offers Regan a phony bribe in exchange for Luigi's papers. Regan accepts and Sam exposes him publicly, enabling Luigi to welcome his wife and daughter as American citizens.