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ing farm owners, and in really settling down to develop into prosperous American citizens.
Altho the Mexicans are not to be looked upon as Europeans or Asiatic laborers, nevertheless, as they are chiefly found on the Pacific Coast, present a separate and difficult problem, and in many respects are assimilated with very great difficulty, it is thought best to touch briefly upon their situation here.
In 1900, as reported by the census, the number of Mexicans in the United States was 103,410. Since that time their immigration has been very rapid. During the nine years between July 1, 1900 and 1909, 23,991 were entered by the Bureau of Immigration. Presumably the number immigrating has been very much larger, perhaps as high as 50,000 a year, altho the majority of those who come over for the first time go back to Mexico, coming largely simply for seasonal work.
The Mexicans are practically all of them engaged in unskilled work. Their chief employments are general construction work, as section hands, members of extra gangs on the railroads, as common laborers in railway shops, in coal and ore mining, as general laborers at the smelters, and at times as seasonal farm hands in Texas, Colorado and California. Usually the Mexicans seem to be without ambition or thrift, are content with the wage relations, and their progress in consequence has been slow, much more so than that of the Japanese or Chinese.
From the records of the Immigration Commission, it appears that in 1909 about one-sixth of the section hands and the members of the extra gangs on the railroads in the Western Division were Mexicans.
Their wage was the lowest of that paid to any of the laborers who were simply on the maintenance-ofway work, being say 25 per cent. less than that of the Japanese. In some cases they have been able to take the places of the higher paid Japanese or Hindus.
Some of them have been taken as far north as Colorado and elsewhere, to work, but mostly when they are taken far away from the Mexican border, arrangements are made by which they can be returned home at the expense of the railway company that engages them. Probably 50 per cent. of those entering the country at El Paso claim their transportation back to that place.
As workers, the Mexicans are stronger physically than the Japanese, more tractable and more easily managed. They are inferior in that they are more likely to drink to excess, and are more irregular in their work, especially after pay-day. Very few of them rise to the rank of foremen; they are, nevertheless, tho unprogressive, intelligent enough to work fairly well under careful supervision.
In certain cases earlier, especially in 1903 and 1904, they were employed as strike-breakers, but not of late years.
Where they have been employed in agriculture, even in growing sugar beets, or otherwise where they come into competition with the Japanese, they are found less efficient. For example, where the pay is by the acre, from $18 to $20 for the hand work, the Japanese will care for from II to 12 acres each,
and the Mexicans about 8. The Mexicans will earn, say, $2 or over per day, while the season lasts. In a few cases the Mexicans are preferred by the employers as hand workers to the Japanese, but in most cases they are considered inferior.
Where they have settled in colonies as, for example, in Los Angeles and other such places, the Mexican quarters are usually by far the poorest in the city. Generally, they are located in the least desirable districts, are overcrowded, and are kept in a filthy condition. In Los Angeles the investigations of the Immigration Commission show that their family incomes are the smallest, their standard of living lowest, their lack of thrift the greatest, of all of the immigrant races investigated. Approximately $8 per month was the cost of subsistence among the railway laborers. Their food is largely vegetable, beans taking the place rice takes among the Asiatics.
They are not readily assimilated. They have poor educational facilities at home, and apparently in our country, where opportunities are furnished, they do not like to attend school. The large percentage of illiterates is noteworthy. Of those investigated by the Commission, 50.58 per cent. only reported that they could read and write. Moreover, they learn English very slowly; less than 14 per cent. of those investigated could speak English. Of those who had resided in the United States less than five years, only 7.1 per cent. could speak English.
Even when their children go to school their attendance, and apparently their intelligence, are decidedly less than the average. Generally, as workers, the Mexicans are looked upon as inferior; marriages between Mexicans and Europeans are very rare, and
tho when they go back home, apparently they have taken some American ideas and American institutions with them, they have shown very little progress toward assimilation.
Unlike the Chinese and Japanese, also, they are very likely to become public charges. They are also likely to be quarrelsome, and inclined toward crime, the principal offenses being petty larceny and drunkenness, with fights and other crimes usually brought about by drink. It would seem from the records that the Mexican is even less desirable as a citizen than he is as a laborer, but it should be borne in mind that a very considerable proportion of them are seasonal laborers, and never intend to become permanent residents of the United States.
ORIENTAL IMMIGRATION TO THE PACIFIC COAST STATES
According to the Census of 1900, the number of Chinese in the continental United States was 93,283, 88,758 of whom were males, and 4,525 females. Owing to the conditions under which the Chinese live, it is probable that the number of males was somewhat larger than these returns.*
It is impossible to estimate with any degree of accuracy the number of Chinese now in the United States. Many of those enumerated have died; some have returned to China; others who were on a visit to China have returned here; and men, women and children of the eligible classes have been admitted into the United States from time to time, nearly 20,000 having been admitted according to records. Further than this, a considerable number of the Chinese are smuggled across the border, while a good many others come from China representing themselves either as native-born Americans, or as belonging to one of the eligible classes (for example, students or travelers), when, as a matter of fact, they are coolies, and intend to settle in this country permanently as laborers. On the whole, however, since the reasonably careful enforcement of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the number of Chinese is, on the whole, steadily diminishing. Furthermore, a consider
Reports of Immigration Commission, Vols. 23-25.